The following are previews with betting tips for Round 11 of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
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Please note that 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, especially given the enforced resting of international players this season.
Friday, 26 April
Crusaders vs Lions
5:35 PM AEST, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
View a detailed form guide for Crusaders vs Lions
Prior to their bye last week the Crusaders steamrolled the Highlanders 43-17 in Christchurch to move to 7-1-1 for the season. They have achieved this despite starting the season without All Blacks forwards Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock. A recent issue for the Cantabrians, however, has been their slow starts. Against both the Brumbies and Highlanders the Crusaders trailed at halftime before pulling away as comfortable winners in the second half. They have also been heavily penalised by referees, so discipline is an area for improvement. All Blacks Scott Barrett, Matt Todd and Jack Goodhew are being rested for this clash. Prop Owen Franks is also absent due to an ankle injury.
The Lions defeated the injury-hit Chiefs 23-17 in Hamilton last week to snap a two-game losing streak. The return of Warren Whiteley together alongside Kwagga Smith boosted the side as the Lions dominated the Chiefs at the breakdown. They are now 5-4 for the season and occupy the 5th seeded spot, however just five points separate them from 14th place on the ladder. The Lions will have to make do without star player Malcolm Marx after he was sent home as per the Springboks resting policy. Gianni Lombard has returned home with a knee injury.
Betting: like most teams, the Lions have a poor record in Christchurch. Their best result over the last ten years was a 19-point defeat in the final last year. The Crusaders are on a 22-game winning streak at home and they’ve gone 9-2 at the line in Christchurch over the last 12 months. Nine of the Crusaders’ 11 home wins over the last 12 months were by 13+ points so I would back the Crusaders 13+ at 1.40 (bet365). Given the Crusaders have been slow starters in recent weeks, the Lions/Crusaders HT/FT selection at 7.50 (bet365) might appeal to those looking for more risk.
Sunwolves vs Highlanders
8:00 PM AEST, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Tokyo
View a detailed form guide for Sunwolves vs Highlanders
The Sunwolves came out of the starting blocks strongly against the Hurricanes last week. They shot out to a 23-10 lead but were held scoreless for the remaining 50 minutes as the Hurricanes came back to win 29-23 in Tokyo. The Japanese side have yet to win at home in five attempts this season.
The Highlanders snapped a six-game winless streak by defeating the Blues 24-12 in Dunedin last week. Despite the Blues dominating the first half stats, the game was close at halftime before the Highlanders pulled away in the second spell, courtesy of a dominant forwards display. In what is turning out to be an incredibly tight season, despite being 3-1-5 for the campaign, the Highlanders are one of six teams who are within 3 points of the Blues, who currently occupy the 8th seed and final playoff spot. In team news, fullback Ben Smith has been left at home to serve his second All Blacks rest week. This dents the Highlanders’ already depleted backs stocks, with Marty Banks, Richard Buckman and Waisake Naholo out injured. I expect Luke Whitelock and Aaron Smith will start this week after starting from the bench against the Blues.
Betting: since losing heavily in Round 1, the Sunwolves’ 4 home defeats have been by 1, 3, 13 and 6 points. The Highlanders have lost their last 4 straight away games so I would back the Sunwolves +15.5 in the pick your own line market at 1.50 (Sportsbet). The Sunwolves have a habit of starting strongly before fading, so for those looking for more risk, the Sunwolves/Highlanders selection in the HT/FT market at 6.10 (Unibet has appeal.
Saturday, 27 April
Hurricanes vs Chiefs
5:35 PM AEST, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
View a detailed form guide for Hurricanes vs Chiefs
The Hurricanes fought back from 10-23 at halftime to defeat the Sunwolves 29-23 in Japan last week. Their defence won the day as they kept the hosts pointless in the final 50 minutes of the game. The win sees the Wellington side to move to 6-1-2 for the season, with both defeats coming against the Crusaders. The Hurricanes have a good habit of winning close contests, with 5 of their 6 wins coming by 6 points or less.
The Chiefs slumped to a 17-23 defeat at home to the Lions last week. This ended a promising 3-1-0 run after the Hamilton side had started the season 0-4. Much of the turnaround in form had been attributed to the brilliance of Damian McKenzie at fullback, but their star player picked up a season-ending knee injury against the Reds a fortnight ago. Chiefs’ fans will be hoping to see the returns of Brodie Retallick and Nathan Harris after both were forced to miss last week due to minor injuries. Their scrum was taken to pieces in their absence.
Betting: if Brodie Retallick returns for this clash then the Chiefs will be more competitive than they were last week, but I don’t rate their chances against the Hurricanes who have gone 7-0 as the home favourite over the last 12 months. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.25 (Ladbrokes, Sportsbet, TopBetta). Those looking for more risk should consider the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.10 (Sportsbet). Six of their last eight home wins over the Chiefs have been by this margin.
Waratahs vs Sharks
7:45 PM AEST, Western Sydney Stadium
View a detailed form guide for Waratahs vs Sharks
The Waratahs managed to shrug off the Israel Folou distraction last week as they defeated the Rebels 23-20 at the SCG. Bernard Foley starred in their come from behind win as he contributed 18 of the side’s 23 points. The result was crucial because the Rebels held a 7-point advantage in the Australian conference prior to that clash. The Waratahs now have the opportunity to eat further into the Rebels’ lead this week while the Melbourne franchise has its second bye week. The Waratahs have already had both of their byes.
The Sharks slumped to a shock 14-21 defeat at home to the Reds last week. This was on the back of a hammering in Durban by the Jaguares, so they have now lost four home games this season. As with the Stormers’ surprise loss to the Brumbies, the Sharks turned down kickable penalties, which came back to haunt them. In team news, prop Juan Schoeman is out with a knee injury.
Betting: the Sharks have gone 0-3 in NSW over the last decade. Neither team has looked that impressive this season, but based on the Sharks’ 1-5 record as the away underdog over the last 12 months, if I had to bet on this game I would back the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 1.40 (BetEasy).
Stormers vs Bulls
11:05 PM AEST, Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
View a detailed form guide for Stormers vs Bulls
The Stormers had more than 66% possession and 71% territory against the Brumbies but still fell short, losing 17-19 in Cape Town last week. They paid the price for poor game management as the Stormers turned down kickable penalty attempts, opting instead for line-outs and scrums. The defeat undid their upset win over the Rebels in Melbourne the week before. The Stormers have now won just one of their last five fixtures as they struggle to find consistency. Captain Siya Kolisi will likely start this week after starting from the bench against the Brumbies.
Prior to their bye last week the Bulls bounced back from their disappointing loss to the Jaguares by defeating the Reds 32-17. Handre Pollard had a poor night with the boot but the Bulls otherwise had a good day at the office. The Bulls are now 5-3 for the season but will be smarting from the fact that they’ve lost twice at home this campaign. The Bulls will enter this clash with confidence given they’ve gone 4-0 against South African opponents this season.
Betting: the Stormers have won their last 7 straight home fixtures against the Bulls. Frequently this season we’ve seen teams bounce back from poor results with good wins, and vice versa, so if I were to bet on this fixture I would back the Stormers in the head-to-head at 1.80 (Betstar, Bookmaker, Ladbrokes).
Sunday, 28 April
Jaguares vs Brumbies
7:40 AM AEST, Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires
View a detailed form guide for Jaguares vs Brumbies
Prior to their bye last week the Jaguares shocked the Sharks with a 51-17 win in Durban. This was on the back of a win over the Bulls in Pretoria. Prior to that the Jaguares had lost their previous eleven fixtures on South African soil. So often the Jaguares’ fortunes seem linked to their discipline and they only conceded a handful of penalties against the Sharks. The Jaguares’ defence has also been impressive in recent weeks.
The Brumbies picked up a surprise 19-17 win over the Stormers in Cape Town last week. The Stormers arguably underestimated them as they turned down kickable penalties during that clash, which proved to be a crucially bad decision. The Canberra side has now gone 6-2 in their last eight away fixtures in South Africa. They had to make over two and a half times as many tackles as the hosts in that clash so they might not have enough in the tank this week to upset the Jaguares. Hooker Josh Mann-Rea has returned home with a knee injury while David Pocock has also been sent home due to his calf injury.
Betting: the Brumbies put in a Herculean defensive effort last week, which I expect will hinder their chances against the physical Jaguares who are coming off a bye. The hosts have gone 4-0 as the home favourite over the last 12 months so I would back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.60 (Sportsbet).
Best Bets of the Round
Back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.60 (Sportsbet)
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