Super Rugby: Round 19 Saturday Preview

Super Rugby: Round 19 Saturday Preview

The round-robin phase of the 2018 Super Rugby season will come to a close on Saturday the 14th of July.

Rugby fans are in for an intriguing day of oval ball action this coming Saturday with five Super Rugby fixtures set to go down. While there are a few dead rubbers littering the day, the majority of the games are of vital importance as the top spot on the African Conference is still up for grabs, as is the final Wild Card Qualifier berth.
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Highlanders v Rebels
Forsyth Barr
07:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Highlanders 1/5
Draw 25/1
Rebels 36/10

Handicap
Highlanders (-12) 9/10  
Rebels (+12) 9/10 

The first fixture of the day sees the Melbourne Rebels travel to Otago to take on the Highlanders. The hosts have already secured qualification for the knock-out phase, while the visitors need a win to assure their participation in the next round - if the Rebels do lose they will need the Jaguares to do them a favour by beating the Sharks later in the day.

The hosts head into this one off the back of a 23-point defeat to the Crusaders, while the Rebels make the trip having gone down 37-23 to the Reds.

Verdict: Rebels (+12) 9/10  
I can see the Rebels putting up a real fight here but I don't think they'll be able to bag the win. As such, I'm in the plus line.

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Crusaders v Blues
AMI Stadium
09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Crusaders 1/7
Draw 30/1
Blues 9/2

Handicap
Crusaders (-15.5) 9/10  
Blues (+15.5) 9/10

Next up it's a New Zealand Derby between the Overall Conference toppers and the New Zealand Conference's cellar-dwellers. The Crusaders head into this one having already secured the top spot on both New Zealand and Overall Conferences. The reigning champions have been mightily impressive this term winning 13 of the 15 fixtures they've played. The Blues, on the other hand, have endured a mare of a season and have only won four of their 15 fixtures.

With the quarter-finals a fortnight away, the Crusaders may well look to rest a few of their big guns for this one, so don't be surprised to see the likes of Mitchell Hunt, Mitchell Drummond and Quinten Strange come into the starting XV. There should still be a few old heads out there, however, with  Kieran Read sure to get another run in a bid to build up his fitness levels for the knock-out phase.

Verdict: Blues (+15.5) 9/10 
I fancy the Blues to keep it within what is a rather kind handicap. The Aucklanders played some good rugby against the 'Canes last week. I reckon they'll give a weakened 'Saders side a run for their money here.

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Waratahs v Brumbies
Allianz Stadium
11:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Waratahs 5/10
Draw 22/1
Brumbies 16/10

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

We hop across the Tasman for our next fixture, which will see the Waratahs play host's to the Brumbies. The men from New South Wales secured the top spot on the Australian Conference last week with a mammoth 77-25 victory over the Waratahs. They will now look to secure second spot on the Overall Conference by getting one over their local rivals.

The Brumbies saw their hopes of making the quarter-finals disappear last week as they went down 24-19 to the Chiefs in Waikato. The men from Canberra did put in a spirited display and almost managed to record a remarkable comeback but fell just short.

Verdict: Brumbies (+6) 9/10 *Please note forecast handicaps
I think this game is going to be an extremely tight one. The Brumbies have been in decent form over the past month or so and I can see them running their opponents close.

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Lions v Bulls
Emirates Airline Park
15:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Lions 2/7
Draw 25/1
Bulls 26/10

Handicap
Lions (-12.5) 9/10  
Bulls (+12.5) 9/10

We go from an all-Australian affair over to a South African derby with the Lions and Bulls squaring off in a trans-Jukskei duel. The visitors head into this one off the back of an impressive comeback victory over the Jaguares while the Lions had the week off due to a bye.

The Bulls are out of the running for a quarter-final berth having failed to pick up the full five-point haul at Loftus last Saturday. The Lions, on the other hand, can guarantee a top spot on the South African Conference and possibly the second spot on the Overall Conference should they win here.

Verdict: Lions (-12.5) 9/10  
This should be a high-scoring affair with both sides pretty keen on running the ball. My money is on the Lions winning what should be an open game of rugby by 13 points or more.

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Sharks v Jaguares
Growthpoint Kings Park
17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Sharks 5/10
Draw 22/1
Jaguares 16/10

Handicap
Sharks (-5.5) 9/10
Jaguares (+5.5) 9/10

The final fixture of the day will see the Sharks tackle the Jaguares. The hosts will need the Rebels to go down to the Highlanders earlier in the day if this game is to hold any significance for them. Like the Sharks, the Jaguares will also only really be interested in the win here if the Lions slip up against the Bulls as it would give the Argentines a sniff at claiming the top spot on the South African Conference.

Both teams failed to put in 80-minute performances last week with the 'Jags racing out to an early 19 point lead against the Bulls before being reeled in, while the Sharks enjoyed 20 good minutes against the Stormers with the less said about the other hour the better.

Verdict: Sharks (-5.5) 9/10  
I said the wheels would come off for the 'Jags in last week's preview and it seems my prediction has rung true. I expect the men from Argentina to struggle once again this week.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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