2017 Super Rugby: Round 9 (Saturday Preview)


We preview Saturday’s five Round 9 Super Rugby fixtures, including the clash between the Bulls and Cheetahs. 

Another Saturday can only mean another enthralling set of Super Rugby fixtures. While we may be in for a few one-sided affairs – the Highlanders versus Sunwolves game springs to mind here – there are still a few cracking games in store with the Crusaders hosting the Stormers and the Bulls and Cheetahs going head-to-head at Loftus.


Highlanders v Sunwolves | Saturday 22 April | Rugby Park | 07:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Highlanders N/A | Draw 50/1 | Sunwolves 20/1
Highlanders (-41.5) 9/10 | Sunwolves (+41.5) 9/10

Like the Hurricanes, the Highlanders will be playing their Round 9 fixture out of their secondary Stadium, which is aptly named Rugby Park. And the Sunwolves could be in for a bit of a rugby lesson this Saturday as the Highlanders will be going all out to claim a bonus point.

The visitors come into this one off the back of a harrowing 50-3 defeat to the Crusaders. The ‘Wolves looked rather lacklustre during that defeat with their pack struggling to compete with their more seasoned opponents. We could well be in for a spot of déjà vu this Saturday as the Highlanders also have an extremely powerful set of forwards.

Verdict: Highlanders (-41.5) 9/10
I can only see a big Highlanders win here. The handicap may be in the early forties but I still expect the hosts to clear it.

Crusaders v Stormers | Saturday 22 April | AMI Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Crusaders 1/10 | Draw 28/1 | Stormers 9/2
Crusaders (-14.5) 9/10| Stormers (+14.5) 9/10

The Stormers get their tour of New Zealand underway with an extremely tough fixture against the red-hot Crusaders. The hosts come into this one off the back of a dominant showing against the Sunwolves while the visitors make the trip having gone down to the Lions at Newland in Round 8.

The Crusaders have been handed a massive boost for this one with All Black Ryan Crotty making a return from injury. This does not bode well for the Stormers as Crotty is the glue in this Crusaders backline. To make matters worse for the visitors, skipper Siya Kolisi has been ruled out due to the Springbok rest protocols which sees Eben Etzebeth take over the captaincy reins. And while I’m a huge fan of the Springbok lock, his aggressive nature does not lead me to believe that he will handle the captaincy duties well.

Verdict: Crusaders (-14.5) 9/10
The Stormers sold me an absolute dummy with their performance against the Chiefs. The Lions exposed all of Robbie Fleck’s side’s frailties last weekend and I think the Crusaders will do the same here. I will be having a moderate strike (R150) on the hosts to clear the -14.5 handicap.

Force v Chiefs | Saturday 22 April | nib Stadium | 11:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Force 9/2 | Draw 28/1 | Chiefs 1/10
Force (+15.5) 9/10 | Chiefs (-15.5) 9/10

The Force and Chiefs are next up this Saturday and the former will be looking to send another message to SANZAAR when they take to the field. The Chiefs come into this one off the back of a poor – by New Zealand standards – tour of South Africa which saw the go down to the Stormers and struggle for large segments against the Cheetahs.

The Chiefs have won six of the last seven meetings but have only won by more than this week’s handicap once in Perth.

Verdict: Force (+14.5)
The hosts are fighting for their lives and while I don’t think they’ll get the win here, I do think they’ll go down by a much smaller margin than the 14.5 points.

Bulls v Cheetahs | Saturday 22 April | Loftus Versfeld | 17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Bulls 2/7 | Draw 25/1 | Cheetahs 23/10
Bulls (-7.5) 9/10 | Cheetahs (+7.5) 9/10

This may not be the most eye-catching of this year’s South African derbies but it must be remembered that these two sides have played out some absolute classics in the past. The visitors will still be smarting from last week’s defeat to the Chiefs as they butchered a number of try scoring opportunities. The Bulls were slightly more clinical than this week's opponents during their 26-13 victory.

These games tend to be rather high scoring affairs with more 60 points or more being scored in three of the last four fixtures. The last three games have seen the Bulls secure two victories and the Cheetahs win once.

Verdict: Cheetahs (+7.5) 9/10
Both sides are struggling for form at the minute which is why I won’t be having a huge strike here. If you’re going to have a bet, I recommend a small sum on the Cheetahs plus.

Sharks v Rebels | Saturday 22 April | Growthpoint Kings Park | 19:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Sharks 1/12 | Draw 33/1 | Rebels 5/1
Sharks (-17.5) 9/10 | Rebels (+17.5) 9/10

We close out the round down in Durban where the Sharks will play host to a Rebels side who will be brimming with confidence after edging out the Brumbies last Saturday. The Sharks are a much tougher proposition, however, and it’s unlikely that the Rebels will secure back-to-back wins as the Natalians have been extremely solid at home.

This week will see a first start of the season for form Varsity Cup star Rhyno Smith who comes into the fullback berth with Curwin Bosch shifting to fly-half. The other change to the Sharks run on XV sees Philip van der Walt make a return on the flank in place of the injured Jean-Luc du Preez.

Verdict: Sharks (-17.5) 9/10
The Sharks backline looks a lot more threatening with Curwin Bosch at 10. The young gun loves to attack and I think we’ll see a very expansive game plan employed by the Natalians. My money is on the hosts clearing the handicap.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net!

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