Super Rugby 2015: Round 11 Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Round 10 kicked off with a defeat for the unpredictable Crusaders outfit at the hands of the Chiefs, and ended with an upset which saw the Reds overcome the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. With injuries starting to mount and national team priorities forcing unions to rest their internationally contracted players we could see a few more upsets this weekend. Round 11 will be held against the backdrop of Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia and like those heroes of the past the teams will go into battle with typical Australasian grit and steel. The pick of Friday’s action will see the Brumbies take on the Highlanders at the Gio Stadium whilst Saturday will see four derbies take place. The ‘Saders and Blues will start Saturday’s proceedings which will culminate in the fierce North-South derby between the Stormers and Bulls. There are some mouth-watering fixtures this weekend so make sure you do the bottle store run early so as to avoid missing any of the action.

Chiefs vs Force | Friday 24 April | Waikato Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80mins)
Chiefs 1/10
Draw 33/1
Force 13/2

Chiefs (-16.5) 9/10 
Force (+16.5) 9/10 

The first game of the weekend sees the Chiefs take on the Force in Waikato. Both teams will be buoyed by last weekend’s performances which saw the Chiefs annihilate the Crusaders whilst the Rebels put in a gutsy display against the South African log leaders. The men from Melbourne will be without lock Sam Wykes who sustained an injury in last weekend’s feisty encounter whilst the Chiefs will have to deal with the loss of Aaron Cruden for the remainder of the season. Liam Messam’s men will want to put in a good home display for their fans who will be on cloud nine after last weekend’s result against their local rivals.

VERDICT: Chiefs (-16.5) 9/10
The Chiefs are back home and will be looking to leapfrog the Canes into first place in both the combined log and the New Zealand conference. I can’t see anything other than a big win for the Chiefs.

Brumbies vs Highlanders | Friday 24 April | GIO Stadium | 11:40

To Win (80mins)
Brumbies 4/10
Draw 22/1
Highlanders 22/10

Brumbies (-6.5) 9/10 
Highlanders (+ 6.5) 9/10 

A shock home defeat to the Melbourne Rebels would have had Steven Larkham’s men licking their wounds for the majority of this week . Last weekend’s loss made it two defeats on the bounce for the Sydney franchise and things aren’t going to get much easier with the Highlanders coming into town. The Highlanders’ form seems to be picking up at the worst possible time for Brumbies fans, however there is hope for the men in white and blue as the Highlanders will be resting key figures Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa. Will the Highlanders’ enforced resting of their All Blacks and the return of fullback Jesse Mogg be enough to see the Brumbies to victory?

VERDICT: Highlanders 22/10
The Brumbies were truly abysmal last time out and it seems they have entered a mini-slump. Despite the Highlanders resting some of their international superstars I think they will still have enough quality to overcome the out of sorts Brumbies.

Crusaders vs Blues | Saturday 25 April | AMI Stadium| 09:35

To Win (80mins)
Crusaders 3/10
Draw 25/1
Blues 28/10

Crusaders (-8.5) 9/10 
Blues (+8.5) 9/10

Last weekend’s game against the Chiefs will go down as one of the worst performances from a Crusaders side in the history of the union. Dan Carter was so bad with the boot that his teammates may be thinking about getting him a GPS system for his birthday. On top of Carter’s surprising inaccuracy, the Crusaders backline is really struggling to get going which means points are hard to come by. However if the ‘Saders thought things were not rosy in their camp all they have to do is look at the season their opposition for the weekend are having. The Blues have only tasted victory once this campaign and will be battling to avoid the tournament’s wooden spoon. They do have some experienced campaigners in their ranks, particularly Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock, who know more about the dark arts of scrumming than a front-row Voldemort.

VERDICT: Blues 28/10
My money’s on the Blues for this one. They had a terrific second-half performance against the Highlanders last weekend and with nothing left for the Auckland franchise to lose, they’re going to be going hard at a brittle Crusaders.

Waratahs vs Rebels | Saturday 25 April | ANZ Stadium | 11:40

To Win (80mins)
Waratahs 1/5
Draw 25/1
Rebels 4/1

Waratahs (-11.5) 9/10  
Rebels (+11.5) 9/10 

The defending champions are coming off a victory that ended the sublime Hurricanes’ winning streak. Not only did they beat the last remaining undefeated team in the competition they also managed to pick up a bonus point in the process. They will be looking to leapfrog the Brumbies into first position this weekend but will have to overcome the competitions surprise package in the form of the Rebels, who are only four points behind the ‘Tahs. Adam Ashley-Cooper returns to the starting lineup for the New South Wales outfit whilst the Rebels name the same fifteen that produced one of the upsets of the season last weekend.

VERDICT: Rebels (+11.5) 9/10
I can see the Rebels making life tough for the Waratahs but the men from New South Wales should have enough quality to prevail in the end, although it will be a lot tighter than the handicap margin.

Lions vs Cheetahs | Saturday 25 April | Ellis Park | 17:05

To Win (80mins)
Lions 3/10
Draw 25/1
Cheetahs 11/4

Lions (-7.5) 8/10
Cheetahs (+7.5) 1/1

The first of two South African derbies sees the high-flying Lions do battle against the current occupants of the foot of the South African Conference. The Lions will want to continue to rebuild Ellis Park’s reputation as an exceedingly hard place to come and win a rugby match. The Johannesburg side will have exciting youngster Mark Richards back from injury whilst the Cheetahs will have to try get the job done without two cornerstones of their team in Willie Le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen. The Lions would have seen the Cheetahs’ lacklustre performance against the Reds last weekend and will be looking to further the Bloemfontein side’s woes.

VERDICT: Lions (-7.5) 8/10
If the Cheetahs weren’t missing such vital players I would have backed them to cause an upset but with the reshuffle that Willie Le Roux’s injury will cause the backline to undergo coupled with the late loss of scrummaging powerhouse Coenie Oosthuizen I can’t see the Cheetahs competing with this exciting Lions side.

Stormers vs Bulls | Saturday 25 April | Newlands Stadium | 19:10

To Win (80mins)
Stormers 7/10
Draw 22/1
Bulls 5/4

Stormers (-2.5) 9/10
Bulls (+2.5) 9/10

The North South derby is definitely the game to watch this weekend. Province are back from a mixed bag of a tour; two losses to Kiwi opposition were negated by two victories over the Force and ‘Tahs in Australia. Talisman Duane Vermeulen is back in the starting lineup and his battle with Pierre Spies will be one of the crucial aspects in determining who wins this one. The Bulls travel to the mother city after a well-deserved win against the hapless Sharks and will be looking to make it two memorable trips down the coast. The Pretoria based franchise will be without their impressive number nine Rudy Paige whose service from the base this season has been impeccable. A lot is riding on this one with both teams wanting to ensure they top the conference and avoid the playoff rounds. With so much on the line it’s going to be an epic battle at Newlands.

VERDICT: Bulls 5/4
It’s getting close to the playoffs and the Stormers find themselves top of the South African conference. Cue a massive choke and a scrap to get into the playoff places in true Province style.  It is going to be tight one but my money is on the Bulls to just sneak a win.

Reds vs Hurricanes| Sunday 26 April | Suncorp Stadium | 08:05

To Win (80mins)
Reds 22/10
Draw 22/1
Hurricanes 4/10

Reds (+6.5) 9/10
Hurricanes (-6.5) 9/10

The Reds return to Suncorp Stadium on the back of a narrow win against the Cheetahs. The victory was only the Brisbane outfit’s second of their campaign, whilst their opponents for this weekend have experienced completely contrasting fortunes. The Hurricanes were undefeated up until last weekend’s narrow loss at the hands of the Waratahs; despite this defeat the ‘Canes still top both the New Zealand conference as well as the combined log. The men from Wellington will want to make use of their game in hand to extend their advantage over the Chiefs but may not have it all their own way in Brisbane.

VERDICT: Hurricanes 4/10
The ‘Canes should really canter to victory in this one but with the Reds back home and coming off their second victory of the campaign, this may well be a tight affair. Opt for safety here.

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