Super Rugby – The Big Questions for Week 15
It’s back! It’s finally back!
That’s right, after a month’s break to accommodate the international window, this weekend sees the return of Super Rugby.
In truth, it’s a bit of a strange run home from here for the competition. The teams face just three games before the Finals, having just taken a month off, so it will be interesting to see who is quickest to settle back into their combinations.
It will be crucial too – the tussle for positions in the finals could barely be closer, so any slip up from here could easily be terminal.
Let’s have a look at the big questions, and a couple of nice early bets, for the return of Super Rugby.
Who will win the big Kiwi derby in Fiji?
It’s well established that the winner of the New Zealand conference will likely top the entire competition, and will be in the box seat to host a semi-final, and then the final itself.
As things stand, the Crusaders lead the way on 45 points (and a points difference of +146) from the Chiefs on 42 (+105), the Hurricanes on 40 (+98) and the Highlanders on 38 (+83). The Blues can start planning for next season.
The bookies have all but given the title to the Crusaders – they are $1.36 to top the Kiwi Conference, ahead of the Chiefs on $5.00, the Highlanders on $10.00 and the Hurricanes on $11.00.
But that extreme disparity in prices is interesting given that the top two teams in the market – the Chiefs and the Crusaders – meet this weekend, in the glorious surrounds of Suva, Fiji. A win in this game would see the Chiefs leapfrog the Crusaders into the conference lead with only games against the Reds (A) and Highlanders (A) still to come. They would be favorites to win both of those and, if they can do so, they would surely take out the New Zealand Conference as well.
After this weekend, the Crusaders have the Melbourne Rebels and the Wellington Hurricanes, both at home. That run is not much easier than what the Chiefs are facing.
That being the case, this Friday night’s match could very well decide the top team at the end of the season.
The Crusaders are slight favorites at $1.75 to win the game (to $2.08 for the Chiefs), but if you like the boys from Waikato to score an upset this weekend then you surely need to have a bit on them to win the Kiwi Conference as well at the very generous $5.00 on offer!
No matter what, it should be an absolutely cracking contest. Make sure you are in front of a TV!
Early Bet: When these two teams last met – in Round 1 of the season – it was the Chiefs who caused the upset, winning 27-21 in Christchurch. After that, the Crusaders went on an eight match winning run, and have won nine of the ten games they have played since. They are deserved favorites here. Take them at -1.5 points at $1.92 but save on the Chiefs to win the conference at $5.00.
— Fijivillage (@fijivillage) June 28, 2016
How will the Australian teams recover from a disastrous international window?
No-one will be looking more forward to getting back into Super Rugby than the Wallabies’ players. They went into the international break buoyed by a rollicking Rugby World Cup, but a 3-0 series defeat at the hands of the English has brought them back to Earth with a crash.
The Brumbies and Waratahs are locked in a tight battle for top spot in the Australian conference, and a single loss to either side could be enough to see them miss the Finals altogether.
The two teams are locked together on 34 points, but the Brumbies hold top spot by virtue of the fact they have won eight games to the Waratahs’ seven. From here, the Brumbies have the Reds (H), the Blues (A) and the Force (H), while the Waratahs will face the Sunwolves (A), the Hurricanes (H) and the Blues (A).
Of those, the Brumbies can probably claim to have the slightly easier draw, but there is not much in it. And the Waratahs looked to be running into form before the break, producing their best rugby of the season to flog the table-topping Chiefs in Sydney.
The bookies have the Brumbies favorites at $1.33 to take the conference, from the Waratahs at $3.00. In reality, it could go either way, and both teams will be eyeing their respective games in Auckland against the Blues with trepidation…
Early Bet: Both the Brumbies and Waratahs are prohibitive favorites this weekend (at $1.14 and $1.04 respectively) so it’s hard to see any value there! Instead, let’s stick with the Aussies and back the Rebels to beat the Stormers in Melbourne at $2.10.
There’s no place like home?