The following are previews with betting tips for Round 12 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, 3 May

Crusaders vs Sharks

5:35 PM AEST, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
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The Crusaders put on another professional performance to see off the gutsy Lions 36-10 last week to move to 8-1-1 for the season. The fact that they managed that result whilst rotating out a number of All Blacks is a testament to their enviable squad depth. Once again, however, they were a bit slow and clumsy out of the blocks before finding their rhythm and finishing strongly. In team news, Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty are being rested this week. Prop Owen Franks remains sidelined for another month due to his shoulder injury.
The Sharks ended a 19-year losing streak in NSW when they defeated the Waratahs 23-15 in Parramatta last week. Much of the win came down to the Waratahs’ terrible discipline, but it was nevertheless a promising start to their three-game tour. On paper this Crusaders fixture is the toughest possible game in Super Rugby, so it will be interesting to see if the Sharks rotate out any key players (as the Lions did last week) and then focus on picking up points against the wounded Chiefs next week.
Betting: the Crusaders have won 25 straight in Christchurch and for good measure they’ve gone 10-2 at the line at home over the last 12 months. Their last two home wins over the Sharks were both by 30+ points. Ten of the Crusaders’ 12 home wins over the last 12 months were by 13+ points so I would back the Crusaders 13+ at 1.40 (bet365).
Confidence: medium

Reds vs Sunwolves

7:45 PM AEST, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
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Prior to their bye last week the Reds shocked the Sharks 21-14 in Durban to return from South Africa with a respectable 1-1 record. They worked hard against the hosts and took their opportunities. After starting the campaign 0-3 the Queenslanders have gone 4-2 which has seen them rise into playoff contention.
The Sunwolves limp into this fixture on the back of a 0-52 mauling by the Highlanders in wet and blustery conditions in Tokyo. The late withdrawal of captain and former Highlander Dan Pryor didn’t help, but the Sunwolves were absolutely dominated by the visitors, particularly in the forwards exchanges. The Japanese side are now 0-6 at home this season. They are 2-2 away from home, so perhaps it’s for the best that 4 of their remaining 6 fixtures are away from Asia.
Betting: the Reds beat the Sunwolves in Tokyo in Round 5 and the Queenslanders are typically stronger at home than away. I would back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.31 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: low
Saturday, 4 May

Hurricanes vs Rebels

3:15 PM AEST, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
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The Hurricanes saw off the under-strength Chiefs 47-19 last week. After having stints on the wing and in midfield, Jordie Barrett was moved to his preferred position of fullback and he ran in two of the Hurricanes’ seven tries. With a 7-1-2 record, the Wellington side has a firm grip on the 4th overall seed and they are performing well enough to possibly pounce should the Crusaders stumble.
Prior to their bye last week the Rebels blew a 13-point lead to lose 20-23 to the Waratahs in Sydney. Ill-discipline undid their cause as it allowed Bernard Foley to keep the points ticking over for the hosts. This was on the back of a poor home defeat to the Stormers so the Rebels now have a real battle on their hands for the Australian conference just a few weeks after looking like they were going to run away with it.
Betting: the last time the Rebels visited Wellington they were slaughtered 71-6 but they have a much stronger squad now than they did in 2017. Nevertheless, the Hurricanes have gone 8-0 as the home favourite over the last 12 months so I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.25 (bet365). Five of the Hurricanes 7 wins this season have been by 1-12 points so for those looking for more risk I would back the Hurricanes 1-12 at 3.30 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: medium

Highlanders vs Chiefs

5:35 PM AEST, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
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After struggling for fluency and rhythm all season, the Highlanders thrashed the Sunwolves 52-0 in Tokyo last week to remain in playoff contention. Much of the victory came down to their forwards who completely dominated their counterparts. All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith, making his first start since returning from injury, also dominated proceedings with his accurate kicking and passing. In team news, Waisake Naholo and Liam Squire could return from injury this week, while Ben Smith is expected to return after being rested against the Sunwolves.
The Chiefs’ playoff chances now hang by a thread after they were defeated 19-47 in Wellington by the Hurricanes last week. They are now 3-1-6 for the season and haven’t won since Damian McKenzie’s season-ending injury in Round 9. In some welcome news, Brodie Retallick returns this week. He’s been sorely missed by the Chiefs in recent weeks.
UPDATE: Retallick has now been ruled out for a further three weeks.
Betting: the Highlanders have gone 4-1 as the home favourite over the last 12 months. They’ve already beaten the Chiefs in Hamilton this season so if I were to bet on this game I would back the Highlanders in the head-to-head at 1.28 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: low

Brumbies vs Blues

7:45 PM AEST, GIO Stadium, Canberra
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The Brumbies defended well but struggled for territory and possession as they fell 15-20 to the Jaguares in Argentina last week. They picked up a bonus point for their troubles and this was on the back of an away win over the Stormers, so their overseas tour overall went well. The Brumbies will remain in Canberra until Round 16.
Prior to their bye last week the Blues fell 12-24 to the Highlanders in Dunedin. They dominated the first half but couldn’t make it show on the scoreboard. The Highlanders then pulled away in the second half. The Blues are without an away win against a Kiwi opponent since 2013 and they have lost their last six away from home against all opponents.
Betting: the Blues are on a six-game losing streak away from Auckland so I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 2.08 (BetEasy, TopBetta). Four of the Brumbies’ five home wins over the last 12 months were by 1-12 points for for those looking for more risk I would back the Brumbies 1-12 at 3.40 (bet365).
Confidence: low

Bulls vs Waratahs

11:05 PM AEST, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
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The Bulls suffered their 8th consecutive defeat in Cape Town as they fell 23-24 to the Stormers last week. It was their first defeat of the season against a South African opponent. The Bulls have fared worse against overseas teams this season, going 1-3 against foreign opponents compared to 4-1 against domestic opposition. Despite their patchy record they remain firmly in playoff contention because no South African conference team has better than a 5-5 record.
The Waratahs slumped to a 15-23 home defeat to the Sharks last week. The talking point was Jed Holloway’s red card and to add insult to injury, Bernard Foley missed a late conversion that would have given them a losing bonus point. The area that the Waratahs have regressed badly in this season is offence. They’ve dropped from averaging 34 points per game last year (2nd best in the competition) to 23 points this campaign (11th best in the competition). They are clearly hurting from the absence of Israel Folou and the departure of Taqele Naiyaravoro during the off-season. Between them, the duo combined for almost half of the Waratahs’ tries in 2018. In addition to Folou, the Waratahs embark on this tour without Tolu Latu (calf), Rory O’Connor (ribs) and Jack Dempsey (back). Lock Jed Holloway has also remained in Sydney to face his code of conduct hearing for the incident against the Sharks. Due to the injury headaches, Tom Robertson is expected to be rushed back into the squad after being out for six months with an ACL injury.
Betting: the Bulls are undefeated at home against the Waratahs over the last decade and the visitors have gone 0-4 as the away underdog over the last 12 months. I would back the Bulls in the head-to-head at 1.40 (Sportsbet).
Confidence: medium
Sunday, 5 May

Jaguares vs Stormers

5:40 AM AEST, Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires
View a detailed form guide for Jaguares vs Stormers

The Jaguares picked up their third consecutive win when they saw off the Brumbies 20-15 at home last week. In a game where their offence failed to fire due to ill-discipline and unforced errors, defence won them the game as they held the Brumbies pointless in the second spell. The win was their 7th in 8 games against Australian opposition and this was on the back of two away wins in South Africa, so the Jaguares’ season is trending in the right direction at the moment. The Argentinian side has been notoriously streaky over the last three seasons so they will be keen to keep their current hot streak going. When the Jaguares lose, they have a nasty habit of losing in groups of three or more.
The Stormers edged the Bulls 24-23 last week in a bruising contest to remain in touch with the Sharks at the top of the South African conference. The Stormers have a bye next week so they can throw everything into this clash. In mixed injury news, Pieter-Steph du Toit (shoulder) and Ernst van Rhyn (elbow) aren’t part of the touring squad, while loose forwards Jaco Coetzee and Sikhumbuzo Notshe have both recovered from injuries. Flanker Siya Kolisi and prop Frans Malherbe are being rested this week as part of the Springbok management plan.
Betting: the Jaguares have gone 5-0 as the home favourite over the last 12 months and with the Stormers resting some Springboks this week, I would back the Jaguares in the head-to-head at 1.61 (BetEasy).
Confidence: medium
 
Best Bets of the Round
Back the Bulls in the head-to-head at 1.40 (Sportsbet)
 
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