The following are betting tips for the semi finals of the 2023 Super Rugby season.
To take advantage of the odds before they possibly shorten, these previews are published before the team sheets are announced. Those who are more risk-averse should wait for the squad lists before wagering. This is especially important given the periodic rotation of international players in the lead up to this year’s World Cup.
Total scores remain elevated under the new rules that were designed to speed up play this season. There have over 8 tries per game this year, compared to six in 2022. Having said that, the scores have been gradually coming down. The average total score across the last 37 games was 56.3, compared to 61.3 for the first 47 games. Nationality has played a key role in the totals. New Zealand domestic games have averaged 49.1 points, while Australian domestic games have averaged 61.1. Trans-Tasman games have averaged 58.9 total points.
Crusaders (2) vs. (3) Blues
The Crusaders bring an incredible 28-0 home playoffs record into this game. They have won seven on the trot at home this season and all seven wins were by 12+ margins. Their unbeaten home finals record will be tested this week, however, due to around eleven first choice players sitting out injured. The Crusaders have already had to bring in ex-players in previous weeks to fill the gaps and they finished their quarter final match with 13 men on the field due to late injuries. They only have two specialist locks remaining, so any injury to Scott Barrett or Quentin Strange would hurt their cause further. One piece of good news is flyhalf Richie Mo’unga is expected to play, despite leaving the field early last week.
The Blues, in contrast, are relatively fit, with Patrick Tuipulotu the only major absentee. Their record away against the Crusaders is abysmal, however. Their upset win in Christchurch last year was their first in 18 years. The Crusaders have since beaten them three times: twice in Auckland and then by a 15-3 scoreline in Christchurch in Round 12.
The head-to-head odds look efficient and there’s no trend with winning margins in prior Crusaders vs. Blues matches, so I will focus on the total market when it is released. The two sides’ last meeting saw just 18 total points. Six of the Crusaders’ eight home games this season went under the total and eight of their last eleven home games against the Blues went under the total. The average total score for New Zealand domestic games this season has been 49.1, which is a ten points less than the broader season average. Rain is expected in Christchurch on Saturday, which could further dampen the scoring. I would back under 50.5 at 1.87 (BoomBet).
Chiefs (1) vs. (4) Brumbies
Both sides had to work hard for their semi finals berth last week. The Chiefs laboured past the Reds 29-20, while the Brumbies had to defend hard at the end to see off the Hurricanes 37-33.
The Chiefs have gone 14-1 this season and they have won seven of their last nine home games against the Brumbies. It should be pointed out, however, that five of those seven wins were by 1-7 margins. The Chiefs have failed to cover the line in their last three home fixtures, while the Brumbies have gone 3-0 at the line as the away underdog this season. The Brumbies have also covered the line in six of their last seven away games against the Chiefs. One notable stat is that no Australian team has ever won a playoff game in New Zealand. I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.30 (BlueBet). Those looking for more risk should consider the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.10 (Dabble).