Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Brumbies v Crusaders | Sunday 24 April | GIO Stadium | 08:05
The Brumbies will welcome an in-form Crusaders squad to the Gio Stadium this Sunday. For the hosts, this game represents a chance to lay down a huge marker after a mid-season dip in form saw their substantial lead in the Australian conference narrowed. While for the visitors, this one is all about carrying on the impressive moment that they have built up.
So can the Crusaders upset the odds and claim an away victory or will the hosts make it a highly successful fortnight by registering back to back wins?
To Win (80 Mins)
Brumbies 7/10 | Draw 22/1 | Crusaders 11/10
Brumbies (-2.5) 9/10 | Crusaders (+2.5) 9/10
Stephen Larkham’s men bounced back from their mid-season blip last week with a vital victory over domestic rivals, the Waratahs. The win and the Rebels loss to the Hurricanes has seen the Brumbies open up a four-point gap at the summit of the Australian Conference.
Their lofty position atop their local conference could be short lived however as the Rebels may well claim the full five points from their fixture with the Cheetahs on Friday morning. If the Rebels do claim the five points then the Brumbies would need at least a losing bonus point to maintain pole position in the Aussie Conference heading into the 10th round of the tournament.
In order for the Brumbies to achieve this, they are going to need their pack to front up big time. While their heavies enjoyed an impressive showing during the first few weeks of the tournament where they mauled their opponents to submission, they’ve looked a lot more leggy in recent weeks. Whether that’s down to them having played six games on the trot prior to their first bye, is up for debate, as while they did look a rejuvenated bunch during the first stanza against the ‘Tahs last weekend, they seemed to fatigue around the sixty minute mark.
They won’t be afforded any room for complacency this weekend regardless of how tired they may get. The Crusaders have one of the fittest packs in the competition. The men from Canterbury also have some solid reserves who are capable of coming on and making an immediate impact.
To make matters worse for Larkham and Co, talismanic flanker David Pocock is serving the final week of his two-match ban from a neck grab on Chiefs eight, Michael Leitch. The breakdown masters work ethic and never say die attitude will be sorely missed by the Canberra-based franchise.
I am more and more impressed with this Crusaders side as the rounds go by. I knew they had a fantastic pack, who are capable of dominating any opponent, but what I didn’t realise was how brilliant a flyhalf they possessed in the form of young Richie Mo’unga.
The young gun had some massive boots to fill at the start of the season but he's acquitted himself with aplomb. While his goal kicking hasn’t always been out of the top draw, his ability to get this 'Saders backline going has more than made up for that.
With Mo’unga calling the shots, the Saders have proved that they aren’t the flat track bullies that everyone had them pinned as before the tournament started.
Mo’unga and his fellow backline cohorts put in a brilliant attacking display last week against the Jags' that saw them cross the whitewash on five occasions. While I don’t expect them to be as free scoring this Sunday, I do foresee them bagging at least three tries; especially when you consider that they have mercurial fullback Israel Dagg back from injury.
The All Black was in sensational from last weekend dotting down twice in the 32-15 victory. If he gets going again this weekend then I think the Brumbies defenders could be I for a hell of a long Sunday afternoon.
The Stats That Matter
The Crusaders have won five out of the previous six meetings between the sides with the Brumbies last victory coming way back in 2009. The games tend to be on the high scoring side with the last four crossing the 50 point total score margin. The Crusaders have won three of the previuous four fixtures by a scoreline in excess of ten points.
Verdict: Crusaders 11/10
The Crusaders to beat the Brumbies at 11/10 is the best value you’re going to find on a Super Rugby game this weekend. Get on it as soon as you can as this generous price is likely to change in no time.
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