The following are betting tips for selected fixtures in Round 4 of the 2023 Super Rugby season.
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To take advantage of odds before they possibly shorten, these previews are often published before the team sheets are announced. Those who are more risk-averse may prefer to wait for the squad lists before wagering.
The total scores calmed down last week. After average total scores of 61.3 and 69.8 in Rounds 1 and 2, the average total score was 44.7 in Round 3. Keep in mind that the average total score was 52.4 in 2022. The new laws to speed up the game were credited for creating the higher total scores as blowouts occurred. Across Rounds 1 & 2 the average winning margin was 21.75, but for Round 3 five of the six games were settled by 1-7 points. Have teams adjusted to the new laws or was last week an aberration?
Blues vs. Crusaders
The Blues defeated the Hurricanes (missing talisman Ardie Savea) to improve to 2-1 for the season, but it was a messy, ill-disciplined performance. The Crusaders rested a few key players and suffered a shock defeat to the Fijian Drua in Fiji last week. Unfortunately for the Blues, the Crusaders are better on the back of a loss than they are a win. Over the last twelve months the Crusaders have gone 4-0 on the back of a defeat (3-1 at the line), compared to 8-4 on the back of a win (4-8 at the line). Following those four defeats the Crusaders followed up with 15, 25, 38 and 37-point wins. The Crusaders have gone 2-0 both in the head-to-head and the line as the away underdog over the last twelve months and they have won seven consecutive games as the away side against the Blues. I would back the Crusaders +1.5 at 1.91 (bet365).
Highlanders vs. Force
Spanning this season and the last, the Highlanders bring a six-game losing streak into this clash and this season they have managed to score 20, 15 and 7 points. Bookmakers have failed to grasp how bad the Highlanders have been, with the southern side failing to cover the line in each of their last six games. No side has scored fewer points and no side has conceded more points than the Highlanders this season. Over the last twelve months the Highlanders have gone 1-4 at the line as the favourite. Spanning this season and the last, the Force bring 4-1 form into this game and while their previous numbers against the Highlanders are patchy, they should back themselves to at least cover the line. I would back the Force +17.5 at 1.83 (Unibet).
Reds vs. Drua
The Reds have been a predictable team for bookmakers. Over the last twelve months they have gone 5-1 as the favourite and 0-7 as the underdog. As I expected, the Fijian Drua will be a real handful on Fijian soil this season, but they are a different proposition away from home. The Drua have gone 0-4 as the away underdog over the last twelve months and they have failed to cover the line in their last three away games. All four of the Drua’s away defeats were by 13+ points and the last time they were on Australian soil they lost 17-46 to the Waratahs. I would back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.20 (BlueBet).