The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2022 Super Rugby season.
To take advantage of odds before they possibly shorten, these previews are published before the team sheets are announced. Those who are more risk-averse may prefer to wait for the squad lists before wagering.
Friday, 4 March
Moana Pasifika vs. Crusaders
View a detailed form guide for Moana Pasifika vs. Crusaders
Moana Pasifika will finally commence their campaign after their opening two fixtures were postponed due to a covid outbreak in the squad. That outbreak also cancelled their second pre-season fixture so all we’ve seen from them so far is a 7-61 pre-season thrashing at the hands of a largely second-string Chiefs’ squad. Unlike the Fijian Drua, Moana Pasifika’s squad features numerous players with Super Rugby experience, including Sekope Kepu, Christian Lealiifano and Jack Lam. The side also boasts quality in the coaching department in former Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger, Southland head coach Dale MacLeod and Pauliasi Manu.
The Crusaders moved to 2-0 for the season with a 34-19 win over the Highlanders. The comfortable-looking scoreline hid the fact that the lead changed five times before the Crusaders pulled away in the final fifteen minutes.
Betting: the line is currently 46.5 with 1.001 head-to-head odds for the Crusaders. Given the Crusaders have already put 42 points on the board against the Hurricanes, the 46.5 line does look within reach, but the Crusaders may go into cruise control once they take a commanding lead. I will simply opt for the Crusaders 9+/Crusaders 13+ in the HT/FT margin market at 1.10 (bet365).
Fijian Drua vs. Rebels
View a detailed form guide for Fijian Drua vs. Rebels
The Fijian Drua fell 3-42 to the Brumbies in Canberra last week to continue their tough start in Super Rugby. They showed a lot of heart but are still clearly a long-term project. The good news is they are heading in the right direction, with their performance in Week 2 an improvement on their performance the week before. The biggest issue they need to sort out at the moment is their ill discipline.
The Rebels have made a terrible start to Super Rugby Pacific. They lost 5-23 to the Reds in wet conditions in Round 1 before falling 3-28 at home to the Force. They have offered very little offensively and look the worst team in the country at the moment. The Rebels have yet to score any points in the second half this season.
Betting: the Rebels will be desperate for a win but they did lose to the Drua in pre-season. Given the Rebels have only been able to score 8 total points this season I will back the Fijian Drua +19.5 at 1.90 (Unibet).
Force vs. Reds
View a detailed form guide for Force vs. Reds
The Force bounced back well from their last-minute defeat to the Brumbies in Round 1 by thrashing the Rebels 23-5 in Melbourne. They totally dominated the game last week and it was pleasing to see, in Richard Kahui and Reesjan Pasitoa, the older and younger players playing well together.
The Reds moved to 2-0 for the season after they beat the Waratahs 20-16 in wet conditions in Sydney last week. It was a gutsy performance in a game in which they had to do a lot of defending.
Betting: the Force covered the line in 9 out of 10 games when installed as the underdogs against the Reds. I would back the Force +6.5 at 1.89 (bet365).
Saturday, 5 March
Blues vs. Chiefs
View a detailed form guide for Blues vs. Chiefs
After having their opening round fixture postponed, the Blues fell 32-33 to the Hurricanes in Dunedin last week. They led 24-14 at halftime but succumbed to three unanswered tries in the final ten minutes. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s debut was eventful. He had some great moments on offence but his missed tackle at the end proved costly. He’s still a work in progress but you can see the potential.
Prior to their postponed game last week the Chiefs led throughout and outscored the Highlanders three tries to one in their 26-16 win. All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick showed good form on his return from overseas, which bodes well for the Chiefs’ campaign.
Hurricanes vs. Highlanders
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs. Highlanders
The Hurricanes are making a habit of playing in high-scoring matches. After falling 32-42 to the Crusaders in Round 1 they defeated the Blues 33-32 in Round 2. In both fixtures the Hurricanes scored two late tries in the dying minutes, which is a nod to their conditioning programme.
The Highlanders slumped to 0-2 for the season after they fell 19-34 to the Crusaders. They were right in the contest until the 66th minute when the Crusaders pulled away. As has been the case for the last few years, the Highlanders are good in patches but struggle to put together an 80-minute performance.
Betting: the Hurricanes have won six straight at home against the Highlanders. The Wellington side went 4-1 as the home favourite over the last 12 months while the Highlanders went 1-4 as the away underdog. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.44 (Sportsbet).
Brumbies vs. Waratahs
View a detailed form guide for Brumbies vs. Waratahs
The Brumbies moved to 2-0 for the season after they comfortably beat the Fijian Drua 42-3 in Canberra. This was on the back of their nail-biting win over the Force the week before. It was only against the Drua, but still, the Brumbies did look solid and well-drilled last week.
The Waratahs are 1-1 for the season after they lost 16-20 at home to the Reds last week. They dominated every statistic except the scoreline as they somehow failed to win. Nevertheless the performance reflects a strong turnaround after the Waratahs were crushed 7-41 and 14-46 by the Reds last season. Their defence is far improved from last year, which bodes well going forward.
Betting: the Brumbies went 5-1 as the home favourite over the last 12 months while the Waratahs went 0-4 as the away underdog. The Brumbies have won eight straight against the Waratahs. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.44 (bet365).
Best Bets of the Round
Force +6.5 at 1.89 (bet365)
Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.44 (bet365)