Super Rugby: Round 17 Preview

Super Rugby: Round 17 Preview

Super Rugby returns this weekend with seven fixtures taking place on Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th of June. 

The June Internationals are now a thing of the past which can only mean one thing, the return of Super Rugby. This weekend sees a full list of fixtures with seven games set to go down, including local derbies between the Highlanders and Chiefs as well as the Sharks and Lions.

Friday 29 June

Blues v Reds
Eden Park, Auckland

To Win 
Blues 2/7
Draw 25/1
Reds 26/10

Handicap
Blues (-9.5) 9/10
Reds (+9.5) 9/10

Blues

The Blues will want to end their dismal Super Rugby campaign and win the few remaining fixtures they have left, the first against the Reds at Eden Park.

Tana Umaga's team has not performed in comparison to their New Zealand counterparts. Suffering 10 losses from their 13 matches, culminating a season they'll rather forget. Their last match was at home where they lost 20 - 10 against the Reds, in an outcome no one saw coming. 

Good news is, Reiko Iaonae and Ofa Tuungafasi return for the Blues while Jerome Kaino will play his last test at Eden Park as he heads to Europe for Toulouse after this years campaign.

Reds 

The Reds have suffered a horrible run of form, losing four-in-a-row, they sit two points adrift ahead of the Blues in the overall standings. 

The Reds last win came against the Lions, but since then they've been marred by defeat with their worst against the Sunwolves  63 - 28. 

The Reds will be glad to see the return of Wallabies, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Tui, and Samu Kerevi all back in the lineup.  

Verdict: Blues (-9.5) 9/10
I'm expecting the Blues to do well in Kaino's last match at Eden Park, and with Ioane and Ofa Tuungafasi back, and some of the team well rested, the Blues should win at home.  

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Harry Hockings, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Caleb Timu, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Aidan Toua, 23 Filipo Daugunu

Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c)/Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds/Leni Apisai, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane/Tumua Manu

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Rebels v Waratahs
Friday, June 29
AAMI Park, Melbourne

To Win
Rebels 29/20
Draw 22/1
Waratahs 11/20

Handicap
Rebels (+4.5) 9/10
Waratahs (-4.5) 9/10

Rebels

The Australian conference log leaders will take to the field at AAMI Park on Friday. The Waratahs are one point ahead of the Rebels in a conference both teams will look to win.

The Rebels are in fine form after three consecutive victories, the most notable against the Blues and the Brumbies, both which they played away from home.

With just two matches left after this fixture, a win here for Dave Wessel's squad can almost certainly secure their playoff inclusion.

Reece Hodge will start at flyhalf and the Rebels have made two changes to the squad that faced the Blues before the June International break. Ben Daley will make his season debut while Michael Ruru will replace an injured Will Genia.

Waratahs

Australian Conference leaders, the Waratahs,  have lost three of their last five matches, all against New Zealand opposition. Their last clash was a high scoring 52 -41 win against the Reds away.

Bernard Foley will captain the team ahead of the injured Michael Hooper, Ned Hanigan returns from injury and will start at Blindside flanker, while Will Miller will replace Hooper.

Israel Folau has been named at fullback pending the outcome of his judicial hearing over his aerial challenge that landed him in the sin bin against Ireland.

Should Folau be cleared, he will add venom to the combination of Kurtley Beale and Curtis Rona. 

Verdict: Waratahs (-4.5) 9/10
I'm expecting the Waratahs to get back to their winning form, and after the June Internationals they should see off a fight by the Rebels but not by much. 

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Alex Newsome

Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English (c), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Ben Daley
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Sefa Naivalu

Written by Lungelo Mdladla for Hollywoodbets

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Saturday 30 June

Highlanders v Chiefs
ANZ National Stadium
09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Highlanders 5/10
Draw 25/1
Chiefs 31/20


Handicap
Highlanders (-5.5) 9/10

Chiefs (+5.5) 9/10

We get proceedings underway with an-all Kiwi affair that will see the Highlanders take on the Chiefs out in Suva. The Highlanders currently occupy sixth spot on the Overall Conference but are just three points ahead of the Chiefs who lie in seventh place.

When the two sides met back in March we bared witness to quite a captivating affair with the Chiefs edging the contest 27-22.

Verdict: Highlanders (-5.5) 9/10
The Highlanders kicking game is likely to come to the fore this week. They managed to boss proceedings against the Hurricanes prior to the break and I can see them doing the same against the Chiefs.

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Brumbies v Hurricanes
GIO Stadium
11:45


To Win (80 Mins)
Brumbies 36/10

Draw 30/1
Hurricanes 2/11


Handicap
Brumbies (+13.5) 9/10
Hurricanes (-13.5) 9/10


The Brumbies will be looking to keep their slim hopes of qualifying for the knock-out phase of the tournament alive when they take on the faltering Hurricanes in the second of Saturday's fixtures. The hosts have only managed to register five wins this season but do come into this one off the back of a morale-boosting 41-31 victory over the Sunwolves.

The Hurricanes, despite enduring a few lean weeks, still sit second on the New Zealand Conference standings and fourth on the Overall standings. A win for Chris Boyd's men would go a long way to securing them a home play-off.

Verdict: Hurricanes (-13.5) 9/10
I can't see the Hurricanes having any trouble getting one over a defensively porous Brumbies outfit. I'm expecting the visitors to take this one by at least 15 points.

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Sunwolves v Bulls
Singapore National Stadium
13:55

To Win (80 Mins)
Sunwolves 21/10
Draw 25/1
Bulls 36/100

Handicap
Sunwolves (8.5) 9/10

Bulls (-8.5) 9/10

John Mitchell's Bulls travel to Singapore this week with the goal of claiming the full five-point haul from there fixture. Standing in their way is a plucky Sunwolves side who have proved to be a bit of bogey team for the Pretoria-based franchise.

The Bulls struggled for results prior to the international break, going down by 10-points to the Brumbies on home soil, while suffering a 30-point defeat to the Jaguares the week prior to that fixture. The Sunwolves also head into this one off the back of two defeats as they went down by 27 points to the Rebels and ten to the Brumbies during their short tour of Australia.

Verdict: Bulls (-8.5) 9/10
Most of the Sunwolves squad was involved in Japan's three June Internationals, which makes me think they may be slightly fatigued headed into this one. I can see a late second-half surge by the Bulls seeing them past a modest handicap.

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Sharks v Lions
Jonsson Kingss Park Stadium
17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Sharks 29/20
Draw 22/1

Lions 11/20

Handicap
Sharks (+3.5) 9/10

Lions (-3.5) 9/10

We now move onto Saturday's headline clash which will see the Sharks and Lions do battle in Durban. The visitors currently sit top of the pops in the Africa Conference while the Sharks are 12 points off the pace in third.

The Lions will welcome back a handfull of stars this week with Warren Whiteley, Ruan Combrinck and Malcolm Marx all comin through the Lions SuperSport Rugby Challenge fixture against the Bulls this past Sunday.

Verdict: Lions (-3.5) 9/10
The visitors will be back at full strength and I can't see them having any problems getting one over a Sharks side that has struggled against domestic opposition this term. I can see the Lions taking this one by eight points or more.


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Jaguares v Stormers
Estadio Jose Amalfitani
19:40


To Win (80 Mins)
Jaguares 7/20
Draw 25/1
Stormers 21/10


Handicap
Jaguares (-8.5) 9/10

Stormers (+8.5) 9/10

The curtain will come down on Round 17 out in Argentina where the Jaguares will take on the Stormers. The hosts head into this one sitting second on the Africa Conference and just need eight more points to ensure their participation in the knock-out phase. The visitors, on the other hand, lie in fourth spot and will need a minor miracle if they are to make the next phase of the tournament.

It will be interesting to see the psychological toll Argentina's shocking June window has on the Jaguares. Most of the squad turned out for the national sides drubbing at the hands of the 'Scots last week, and the scars could well still be there.

Verdict: Stormers (+8.5) 9/10
While I do think the hosts will take the spoils this Saturday, I don't think it will be by much.


Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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