The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 4 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, 11 March
Blues vs. Highlanders
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The Blues edged the Chiefs 24-22 in Auckland last week to improve to 1-1 for the season. Both of their games this campaign have been settled by 2 points or less. The Blues successfully welcomed back All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown via the bench last week.
The Highlanders fell 14-21 to the Hurricanes last week to slump to 0-3 for the season. Once again they were well in the game but were left to rue mistakes that undid their cause. It was the Highlanders’ fifth consecutive defeat to a New Zealand team.
Betting: the Blues have gone 8-1 as the home favourite over the last 12 months while the Highlanders a have gone 1-5 as the away underdog. The Blues have won 7 of the last 8 games when installed as the home favourite against the Highlanders. I would back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.28 (bet365).
Rebels vs. Brumbies
View a detailed form guide for Rebels vs. Brumbies
The Rebels’ horror season continued with a 26-31 home defeat to the unfancied Fijian Drua last week. This was on the back of limp offensive performances in which they lost to 5-23 to the Reds and 3-28 to the Force. The Rebels do have excuses, with fourteen players unavailable last week due to injury or suspension, but it was nevertheless a terrible performance with the Rebels missing 25 tackles. The injuries & performance curse that afflicted the Waratahs last season appears to have hit the Rebels.
In a game of two halves the Brumbies defeated the Waratahs 27-20 in Canberra last week to improve to 3-0 for the season. The hosts ran out to a 24-6 lead before the Waratahs fought back. The Brumbies maintained their structures and held their nerve when it counted to close out the win.
Betting: spanning this season and the last the Rebels have lost eight consecutive games. Over the last 12 months they have gone 0-9 as the underdog while the Brumbies have gone 7-1 as the favourite. Given the Rebels’ injury woes I would back the Brumbies 13+ at 1.54 (Unibet).
Saturday, 12 March
Hurricanes vs. Moana Pasifika
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs. Moana Pasifika
The Hurricanes saw off the error-prone Highlanders 21-14 last week to improve to 2-1 for the season. Despite their own error count, it was a much better defensive performance after they conceded 42 and 32 points in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively. The Hurricanes’ preparations for this game have been hampered during the week by a covid outbreak in the squad.
After a covid outbreak derailed their first two fixtures, Moana Pasifika finally made their Super Rugby debut with a 12-33 defeat to the Crusaders. The scoreline was more than respectable given Moana Pasifika had been crushed 61-7 in their only pre-season fixture and had fielded eleven Super Rugby debutants against the Crusaders.
Betting: the 1.02 head-to-head odds on the Hurricanes hold no appeal and we only have one game to go by to assess Moana Pasifika’s form, so I will sit this one out.
Crusaders vs. Chiefs
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The Crusaders fielded a rotated squad and defeated Moana Pasifika 33-12 last week to improve to 3-0 for the season. They were expected to win by a much larger margin but the win keeps the Crusaders at the top of the overall standings.
Bryn Gatland missed a game-winning penalty as the Chiefs fell 22-24 to the Blues in Auckland. They are now 1-1 for the season after they comfortably saw off the Highlanders the week before.
Betting: the Crusaders bring a six-game winning streak into this clash and they have won six straight at home against the Chiefs. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.38 (bet365).
Reds vs. Fijian Drua
View a detailed form guide for Reds vs. Fijian Drua
The Reds defeated the Force 29-16 in Perth last week to move to 3-0 for the season. They pulled away in the second half to secure the comfortable win despite the injury absences of co-captains Liam Wright and Tate McDermott. James O’Connor putt in an excellent performance.
Starting as 19.5-point underdogs, the Fijian Drua caused the biggest shock of the season when they defeated the injury-hit Rebels 31-26 last week. Even more impressive was the fact that they came back from 0-14 down to do so. This proved the Drua’s pre-season win over the Rebels was no fluke. Prior to last week’s win the Drua had been thrashed 40-10 by the Waratahs and 42-3 by the Brumbies, however, so I expect another heavy defeat this week.
Betting: the Reds may be tempted to rotate some of the squad for this clash, which may jeopardize them covering the -25.5 line. I will instead back the Reds/Reds in the HT/FT market at 1.16 (Unibet).
Sunday, 13 March
Waratahs vs. Force
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The Waratahs fell 20-27 to the Brumbies in Canberra last week after trailing 6-24 at one stage. The Brumbies were more clinical when it counted but the 7-point margin of defeat is a huge improvement over the 51-point thrashing the Waratahs suffered last season and is a reflection of how much they have improved since last year.
The Force lost 16-29 to the Reds in Perth last week to slide to 1-2 for the season. They got into good positions during the game but failed to convert enough of those opportunities into points as mistakes undid their cause. The Reds were simply the better team on the day.
Betting: the Force have gone 1-7 as the away underdog over the last 12 months, however they have also gone 7-2 at the line away from home and they have covered the line in four of their past five visits to Sydney. Eight of the last nine meetings between the two in Sydney were settled by 12 points or fewer. At the time of writing the total has yet to be published but four of the last five meetings between the two in Sydney went under the total and the Waratahs’ last three home games went under the total. I would back the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 1.68 (Unibet). Those looking for more risk should consider the Waratahs 1-12 at 2.80 (Unibet).
Best Bets of the Round
Brumbies 13+ at 1.54 (Unibet)