Super Rugby 2017: Blues v Cheetahs Preview


The first of the Round 12 Super Rugby games sees the Blues take on the Cheetahs at Eden Park.

The Cheetahs kick-off their tour of New Zealand with a game against a Blues side that has blown hot and cold this term. The visitors once again let victory slip from their grasp as they shipped three tries in the final six minutes to go down to the Highlanders. The Blues, who also shipped a plethora of points in the second stanza against the ‘Tahs, managed to grab a win in Round 12, although, Tana Umaga will be extremely worried about how his men capitulated in the second half.

Blues v Cheetahs | Friday 12 May | Eden Park | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Blues 1/33 | Draw 35/1 | Cheetahs 7/1
Blues (-20.5) 9/10 | Cheetahs (+20.5) 9/10

Different week, same old Blues. Tana’s men just can’t seem to string 80-minutes of rugby together. To liken them to Jekyll and Hyde would be an understatement. Luckily enough for the Aucklanders, they take on a side that are even more incapable of putting in an 80-minute shift.

While last week’s four-point haul would be the highlight for this week’s host, there were other elements of their game that would have put a smile on Blues fans' faces. Rieko Ioane continues to impress while Augustine Pulu looks a man reborn after making the move from the Chiefs.

In terms of team news for Friday’s clash, Tana Umaga has opted to make a plethora of changes to his run-on side. Sonny Bill Williams drops out of the squad and is replaced in the centres by TJ Faiane, while Declan O’Donnel comes in on the right wing for the impressive Matt Duffie. The biggest change of them all sees All Black lock, Patrick Tuipolotu, make his return to the engine room.

If Franco Smith has any hair left by the end of this season I’ll be a shocked man. The Free State mentor must have been pulling clumps out of that well-manicured hairdo of his, as he witnessed his side snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last Friday. I’m not a Cheetahs fan but I felt rather heartbroken after watching them capitulate for the umpteenth time this season.

The trip to Auckland may be just the tonic for this beleaguered Free State franchise as the pressure will be well and truly off this Friday. They essentially have nothing to lose and they are playing against a team that is also mentally frail.

Unlike his counterpart, Franco Smith has opted to field an almost identical side as he did last week, with the only changes seeing Ox Nche drop to the bench and Henco Venter come into the loose trio in place of Paul Schoeman.

Verdict: Cheetahs (+20.5) 9/10
The ‘cap just seems a bit too large here. Yeah, the Blues are lethal with ball in hand but they’re also the most porous of the New Zealand sides when it comes to defending. While I will be having a go on the Cheetahs, my main bet will be on the over 62 points market which will be available via the Hollywoodbets Live In-Play platform as soon as the game kicks off.

Written by Darry Worthington for!

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