SUPER RUGBY WEEK ONE
Melbourne Rebels v Blues
Great matchup this to start off the season. The Rebels have named a great starting line up while the Blues have named a lot of their better players on the bench. Interesting in this game the home side has always won this clash with the Blues having a 3-2 win record.
The Blues should improve on their win record last year, they may get a couple of scalps in the NZ conference to go along with it, they’ve recruited well and Tana Umaga will have the boys fit for this year. The Rebels themselves have recruited well with league convert Marika Koroibete the biggest name to join the Rebels. He’ll be one to watch out for and could be some value for a sneaky few dollars on for Top Tournament Try Scorer.
Keep an eye out for the total in this game as the average points between these sides is 63.5 points, so anything less than 55 will be a bet for the overs. This should be a hard game to pick the winner from, but a couple of plays I like are Melbourne to be winning at Half Time and the Blues to win at full time.
Highlanders v Chiefs
The Highlanders have named a powerful backline with a few All Blacks including the two Smiths running around. The Chiefs have had a couple of injury concerns and may also be without Sam Cane for this clash.
The Highlanders have a great record against the Chiefs, winning the last six games between the two sides. The Highlanders have also only lost one of there last 12 games, with the upset to the Sharks last season (Highlanders got a Red Card early on). The Chiefs away record was pretty strong early on last year but faulted towards the end of the season losing to the Waratahs, Highlanders and Hurricanes away.
Since 2015 the average winning margin between the two sides is -12.5 to the Highlanders. I’m pretty confident the Highlanders will again do a job on the Chiefs.
Reds v Sharks
The Reds should be the big improvers in the competition this year, not only a chance to make the playoffs but also a slight outside chance to win the Australian Conference. The Reds have recruited superbly adding the likes of Stephen Moore, George Smith, Scott Higginbotham and Quade Cooper. Karmichael Hunt should attract plenty of game time and be a big improver this year.
The Sharks have lost a couple of good players in Jacques Potgieter, JP Pietersen and Willie le Roux, they will be looking for a big season from Patrick Lambie to guide them around the park. The Sharks have a pretty good record against the Reds having only lost twice in the last seven games, though this is a different Reds side.
The line opened up at -3.5 and has since gone out to -4.5 and -5.5. I don’t think there is particularly too much value in this game to have a bet so No Pick.
Sunwolves v Hurricanes
Last years champions the Hurricanes got the monkey off the back by winning their first title – a long time coming for this Hurricanes fan. The Sunwolves have a number of changes this year so it will be interesting to see how their season goes, I wouldn’t be expecting too much.
Nehe Milner Skudder is back this year but unfortunately misses the opening game due to a hamstring issue, this however brings the exciting up and coming player in Jordy Barrett, younger but bigger brother of World Rugby player of the year Beauden Barrett.
Not a lot looks interesting in this game, particularly with no history between the two sides, therefore No Pick.
Crusaders v Brumbies
Crusaders should canter in here. The Brumbies have lost a lot of players including Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano and most importantly David Pocock. While the Crusaders have maintained a similar squad with a couple of good additions. In the last seven games the Crusaders have won six of these, most by considerable margins.
This is my bet of the round and I think the Crusaders will do a job on the Brumbies provided the weather forecast holds up and is dry.
Waratahs v Force
The Waratahs should improve this year, I have them winning the Australian Conference and should be able to beat the Force this weekend.
The Force have a lot of injuries early on in the season though they do boast nine capped Wallabies in their squad including Wallabies Rookie of the Year Dane Haylett-Petty. Rumours circling that this will be the last season in the light blue for Israel Folau and that he will join his fiancé in Auckland next year, playing for the Blues, he is the X-Factor the Waratahs need to progress further this season.
The Force have a strong record against the Waratahs, winning three of the last four games. They’re somewhat of a bogey side for the Waratahs, however the last game played the Waratahs hammered the force 49-13 in Perth.
I think the Waratahs should win this game, but it is a bit of a hiccup fixture. No Pick.
Cheetahs v Lions
The Lions comfortably beat the Cheetahs last year by 17 points in there only fixture, this was at home however. The Cheetahs are usually pretty good at home and should give the Lions a run for their money. The Lions are however my pick for the Minor Premiership this year, they have a soft draw not having to play any New Zealand sides and you can get around $5 for this at the moment.
This has the potential to be a high scoring match with both teams playing an attacking style. I don’t particularly like anything in this game so No Pick.
Southern Kings v Jaguares
I can’t see the Kings improving too much on last year and they’ve almost got a completely new squad to boot. The Jaguares should be big improvers this year. They will know how to deal better with the travel and should rack up a few away wins (this being one of them), which they struggled to do last year.
Both teams beat each other in last years fixtures, the kings winning by 7 points at home to the Jaguares last season. Pride is the only thing that can help out the Kings in this game, I suspect Jaguares should win this one in the second half.
Again, being the first round and not liking any of the prices, No Pick.
Stormers v Bulls
Big clash this one, the Stormers at home have a great record against the Bulls winning the last five at home. I think they’ll beat the Bulls but its hard to predict what the score line will be. Both have a few changes to their squads with the Stormers losing the experience Schalk Burger but gaining Bjorn Basson. Meanwhile the Bulls have essentially a new front row but have gained Lood de Jager from the Cheetahs who should bolster their pack.
The same fixture in the first round last year I tipped up the Stormers at -6.5 and I think they’ll do the job again so will go again on the Stormers this year.
RESULTS STAKES ROI Final +3 3 100% Semi Finals -0.77 6.5 -12% Quarter Finals +2.94 9 33% Week Seventeen -1.2 11 -11% Week Sixteen -3.3 9 -37% Week Fifteen +0.52 19.5 3% Week Fourteen -16 16 -100% Week Thirteen +3.81 13.5 28% Week Twelve +2.71 17.5 15% Week Eleven -2.9 11 -26% Week Ten -0.35 14 -3% Week Nine -5.52 13 -42% Week Eight +6.77 12 56% Week Seven +7.8 9 87% Week Six +15.46 13 119% Week Five +1.61 10 16% Week Four -2.24 8 -28% Week Three -10 10 -100% Week Two +4.9 8 61% Week One -4.15 13.5 -31% Futures +5.7 10 57% Total +8.79 226.5 4% RESULTS STAKES ROI Final