Super Rugby 2017: Round 15 Preview (Saturday)

Super-Rugby-2017-Round-15-preview

We preview the final set of Super Rugby fixtures before the international break commences. 

We have a shortened fixtures list this week due to the South African teams being out of action. There are still some cracking games to look forward to, however, with Trans-Tasman rivalries being renewed throughout the day. It’s an all-Kiwi affair first up though, with the unbeaten Crusaders taking on the Highlanders at AMI Stadium.


Crusaders v Highlanders | Saturday 3 June | AMI Stadium | 04:35


To Win (80 Mins)
Crusaders 1/3 | Draw 22/1 | Highlanders 22/10
Handicap
Crusaders (-7.5) 9/01 | Highlanders (+7.5) 9/10

An unbeaten streak heading into the international break would be quite the feat for the Crusaders. And while they have every chance of claiming this accolade, they will have to be at their best as the Highlanders will be going all out to ensure they further the gap between the Auckland Blues and themselves.

Both teams come into this one off the back of impressive victories over Australian opposition with the Highlanders beating the Waratahs 44-28 and the Crusaders ousting the Rebels 19-41.

Moving on from recent results and onto the head-to-head results between these two Kiwi rivals and the Crusaders we will the happy bunch taking a look at these. The hosts for Saturday’s fixture have won six of the last eight games between the sides, although their two defeats came rather recently in 2015 and 2016. The 'Saders will take a lot from the fact that they managed to claim a three-point win in Dunedin earlier this year.

Both sides have opted to make changes for this one, with Scott Robinson bringing Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue and Mitchell Drummond into the Crusaders starting backline. The ‘Saders mentor has also opted to switch things up in his pack bringing in an entirely new front row. His opposite number has made slightly fewer changes bringing Daniel Lenhart-Brown, Gareth Evans and James Lentjies into the starting eight, while Rob Thompson comes in at inside-centre with Richard Buckman shifting to the left wing.

Verdict: Highlanders (+7.5)
Three of the last four games between the sides have been won by seven points or less. My money is on the Crusaders winning by 1-7 points. 

Chiefs v Waratahs | Saturday 3 June | FMG Stadium | 07:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Chiefs 1/12 | Draw 33/1 | Waratahs 11/2
Handicap
Chiefs (-16.5) 9/10 | Waratahs (+16.5) 9/10

The Chiefs and Waratahs will go head-to-head in the first of the day’s two Trans-Tasman derbies. The hosts come into this one off the back of a 16-16 draw with the Blues while the visitors went down by 16 points to the Highlanders last Saturday.

This has proved to be quite the epic contest in the past with the last three games between the sides seeing five or more tries scored. The Waratahs bossed those aforementioned three games winning all of them by five points or more. The Chiefs' last victory against the ‘Tahs came in Hamilton back in 2012.

In terms of team news, the Waratahs have made just the solitary change with Jack Dempsey coming in at scrum-half for the injured Nick Phipps. The Chiefs have also opted to go the consistency route with Dave Rennie making just two changes to his run-on XV. The changes see Stephen Donald, who will win his 100th Super Rugby cap, start at 12 and Toni Pulu come in on the right wing.

Verdict: Waratahs (+16.5) 9/10
I just think this handicap is miles too big. The ‘Tahs are nowhere near their best but they’ve proved to be a bit of a bogey team for the Chiefs. My advice here is to have a solid strike on the +16.5 handicap.

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Brumbies v Rebels | Saturday 3 June | GIO Stadium | 14:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Brumbies 1/10 | Draw 33/1 | Rebels 5/1
Handicap
Brumbies (-15.5) 9/10 | Rebels  (+15.5) 9/10

We’ve got our second and final local derby up next with the Brumbies taking on the Rebels. The hosts were in sensational touch last week bagging a vital bonus point victory out in Buenos Aires. The Rebels didn’t fare as well in Round 14 going down to the Crusaders. They did put in some smart work during the second stanza of that 22 point defeat which will give them some confidence heading into their clash with the Brumbies.

The Brumbies actually lost the reverse fixture between the sides going down to a last-minute penalty from Reece Hodge. That isn’t their only blemish against the Rebels with the Canberra-based franchise losing to their domestic rivals in 2014 and 2015. Another thing to note here is that these games are generally low scorers with three of the last four matches failing to pass a combined points total mark in excess of 36.

Verdict: Rebels (+15.5) 9/10
This is another handicap that seems a bit high. Yes, the Brumbies were brilliant against the ‘Jags but you have to factor in their return flight from Buenos Aires. I can see the Aussie Conference leaders taking this one by between 1–12 points. 

Force v Hurricanes | Saturday 3 June | nib Stadium | 13:55

To Win (80 Mins)
Force 7/1 | Draw 35/1 | Hurricanes 1/20
Handicap
Force (+20.5) 9/10 | Hurricanes (-20.5) 9/10

Saturday’s final fixture sees the Force entertain the Hurricanes, who have just returned from a successful jaunt to South Africa. The visitors will be desperate to claim the full five-point haul here to keep the pressure on the Australasian Conference-leading Crusaders.

I must say, I was quite disappointed to see the Hurricanes go into their shell during the final 10 minutes against the Bulls. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with the tactic when you’ve sewn up a bonus point victory, but seeing them kick for polls when a kick to touch would have surely resulted in a five-pointer, seemed just so un-Hurricanes like. They can ill-afford to take the gas off the pedal this week as the Force showed how devastating they can be when given a sniff during last week’s 14-point victory over the Reds.

On the team news front, there are returns for All Black Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder with the former starting at ten and the later taking a spot on the bench. The Force have also opted to make a change with Dane Haylett-Petty taking over at fullback having overcome his injury.

Verdict: Hurricanes (-20.5) 9/10
I’m basing this one on the bench quality the Hurricanes have at their disposal. I’m expecting the likes of Milner-Skudder, Otere Black and Ardie Savea to run the Force rampant during the final quarter of the game.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net!

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