Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Saturday is fast approaching, which can only mean one thing….. we’re in for another action-packed day of Super Rugby. The first fixture of the day will see the Blues take on Jaguares. That’s followed by the Brumbies versus Chiefs. We then head over to the Republic for a bottom of the table clash between the Kings and Sunwolves, which is followed by a derby match between the Bulls and Cheetahs.
Blues v Jaguares | Saturday 2 April | QBE Stadium | 08:35
To Win Match
Blues 1/4 | Draw 28/1 | Jaguares 28/10
Blues (-9.5) 9/10 | Jaguares (+9.5) 9/10
The Blues host the Jaguares this Saturday in what should be a rather close-fought and exciting affair. The hosts come into this one off the back of a bye while the visitors went down to the Stormers at home last week. Both sides have only a solitary victory to their names this season and will be desperate to get another one under their belts this weekend.
The Blues last outing saw them play out a 16 all draw with the Reds. Tana Umaga’s side were the better team on the day but a late show from the Reds ensured the Blues had to settle for a share of the spoils. The Jags' last fixture was also a narrow run affair mainly due to inclement weather in Buenos Aires. Their opponents took a 13-8 lead into the half-time break courtesy of a spectacular try from diminutive fullback Cheslin Colbie. That try would ultimately prove the difference as the Stormers held out for a five-point victory.
In terms of team news, the Jaguares will be without 11 of their international stars as coach Paul Perez has opted to rest them. The Blues will also have a bit of a different look about them this weekend. Pierce Francis will make his debut. The Englishman will link up with Rene Ranger in the centres. In the pack, prop Nick Mayhew gets a start while Joe Edwards comes in on the flank for the injured Jerome Kaino.
Verdict: Blues (-9.5) 9/10
My money is on the Blues putting a big score over this second string Jaguares squad.
Brumbies v Chiefs | Saturday 2 April | Gio Stadium | 10:45
To Win Match
Brumbies 11/20 | Draw 25/1 | Chiefs 14/10
Brumbies (-4.5) 9/10 | Chiefs (+4.5) 9/10
The pick of Saturday’s action will see the Brumbies take on the Chiefs at the Gio Stadium. Both sides are coming into this one off the back of victories, although it must be stated, that the Chiefs were a hell of a lot more impressive than the Brumbies last time out.
Steven Larkham’s men managed to end their mini-tour of South Africa on a positive note with a 25-18 victory over the Cheetahs last Saturday. They were far from their fluid best however and were lucky to survive a late onslaught from the Cheetahs. Larkham’s charges are going to have to up their game tenfold if they are to beat a Chiefs side that is looking more and more like a title contender with each passing week.
While the Brumbies struggled to get one over the Cheetahs last weekend, the Chiefs swept aside the Western Force with ease. Their 53-10 bonus point victory saw them not only top the New Zealand Conference but also the Overall and Australasian Conferences. The victory was also the Chiefs third successive win.
Steven Larkham has opted to name an unchanged side for this encounter while his opposite number, Dave Rennie, has made tow changes to his run-on side with Anton Lienert-Brown returning to the inside-centre berth and Toni Pulu coming in on the right wing.
Verdict: Chiefs 14/10
The Brumbies haven’t looked great in recent week and the long-haul flight back from South Africa is likely to take a toll on the players. I can see the Chiefs sneaking a victory in Canberra this Saturday.
Kings v Sunwolves | Saturday 2 April | Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium | 17:05
To Win Match
Kings 13/20 | Draw 22/1 | Sunwolves 5/4
Kings (-2.5) 9/10| Sunwolves (+2.5) 9/10
It may be early doors in the season but this game could well decide the fate of this year’s wooden spoon accolade. With both the Kings and Sunwolves are yet to garner a victory this term but that should change unless we have we see our third draw of the 2016 tournament this weekend.
Both sides are coming off the back of respectable showings, with the Kings putting in a magnificent first half display against the Hurricanes last time out while the Sunwolves managed to pick up a bonus point from their 27-30 loss to the Bulls in Singapore.
With both sides yet to meet in the history of the tournament there is much in lew of stats to go on here. Both sides have conceded a bucket load of points this term, though, so we should see a high-scoring affair here.
Neither coach has announced his match day squad at the time of writing but I suspect Chris Cloete will come back into the Kings starting line-up.
Verdict: Kings (-2.5) 9/10
I fancy the Kings to claim their first victory of the season this weekend.
Bulls v Cheetahs | Saturday 2 April | Loftus Versfeld | 19:00
To Win Match
Bulls 1/4 | Draw 25/1 | Cheetahs 28/10
Bulls (-9.5) 9/10 | Cheetahs (+9.5) 9/10
Saturday’s solitary derby will see the Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs square off at Loftus. While both sides had registered contrasting results last weekend, it is the performances that they put in that really caught the eye. The Bulls looked lost at seas against the Sunwolves. They failed to adapt to the new maul laws which kept the Japanese franchise in the game. The Cheetahs, on the other hand, put in a solid shift against the Brumbies that saw them claim a losing bonus point.
The two sides played out two enthralling game when they locked horns last. The first of which saw the Bulls run out 39-20 victors at the Free State Stadium while the Cheetahs gained revenge in the second encounter at Loftus where they ran out 42-29 victors.
In term so team news for this one, Nollis Marais has been forced to shift Jessie Kriel to fullback with Warrick Gelant having fractured his jaw last week. Kriel’s berth in the centres will be taken by Jan Serfontein. In typical Cheetahs fashion, Franco Smith is yet to announce his starting XV.
Verdict: Cheetahs First to Ten Points 7/4
It’s a bit of a risk but the Cheetah’s have enjoyed strong starts to their recent fixtures at Loftus. Back them to win the race to 10 points at 7/4.
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