Super Rugby 2017: Highlanders v Reds Preview

Highlanders Versus Reds Betting Preview

We preview Friday's Super Rugby clash between the Highlanders and the Reds.

After a pulsating six-weeks of British & Irish Lions rugby fever that engulfed the whole of New Zealand, the Kiwi Super Rugby sides now turn their attention back to this, the final week of round-robin action. The Highlanders, having already qualified, will be looking to bring some momentum into next week’s playoffs with a solid showing against a Reds outfit that has an opportunity to finish second-best in Australia with a win on Friday.

Highlanders v Reds | Friday 14 July | Forsyth Barr Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Highlanders 1/50 | Draw 35/1 | Reds 8/1
Highlanders (-22.5) 9/10 | Reds (+22.5) 9/10

The ‘Landers’ last result was a historic 23-22 victory over the touring Lions a month ago, and boy did they play some entertaining footy in that one! In a match which I hurried through an exam to catch, the Highlanders put on a stoic display on attack and defence to match their more fancied opponents, and eventually pipped them at the end.

No matter the final outcome of their Super Rugby season; that Lions win will live long in the memory of all that were involved in Otago rugby in 2017, and it is certainly cause for much celebration.

On Friday, the Highlanders will welcome the Reds to the Forsyth Barr in a match that should be best perceived from a Kiwi point-of-view, as an opportunity to ready themselves for next week’s playoff game (for which they have already qualified). Their month-long rest could be just the tonic this bunch needed in anticipation of the season’s climax, and they should have no problems in seeing off a below-par Queensland side.

While Ben Smith is still expected to remain on the sidelines after the knock he picked up in the first Test, the Highlanders should welcome back the likes of All Blacks backliners Waisake Naholo, Lima Sopoaga, Toulon-bound Malakai Fekitoa. While Fekitoa and Naholo will bring power running to proceedings, the silky skills of Sopoaga are likely to have the biggest impact for the hosts.

The Queenslanders’ last-minute victory over the Brumbies last week was certainly a result that I did not see coming. Quade Cooper’s injury-time penalty at the Suncorp proved once again how little separates the quality of the Aussie sides, and perhaps too that they are in great need of reinvention.

A win on Friday would see them cement second-place in the Australian Conference, something that many people definitely did not predict at the beginning of the season, and which perhaps isn’t the worst possible outcome for Reds rugby. The likelihood of such a win however, remains rather farfetched.

There is a constant melancholy surrounding Australian rugby at the moment, given their franchises’ poor results in the competition. Once again, we can only hope that the axing of one of their sides next year will increase the level of competitiveness Down Under.

Verdict: Reds (+22.5) 9/10
They will be far too good at home; however, I still feel that the minus handicap is a tad too high. It will be interesting to see if they can prove me wrong on Friday but my money is on the Reds plus.

Written by Shaun Goosen for!

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