Super Rugby 2018: Round 11 Preview

Super Rugby 2018: Crusaders v Bulls Preview

With the June Test window just over a month away, a few of Saturday's games could have a massive bearing on many a side's fortunes.

It may be a slightly shortened fixtures list, but Saturday's four games are sure to provide some great entertainment value, particularly the clash between the resurgent Bulls and a solid Chiefs outfit at Loftus Versfeld.
Reds v Lions
Suncorp Stadium
07:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Reds 7/2
Draw 28/1
Lions 1/5


Handicap *forecast handicap
Reds  (+13) 10/11
Lions (-13) 10/11

The action gets underway with a cross-conference clash between the Reds and Lions. This weekend's visitors got their tour of Australia off to the most perfect of starts as they claimed 29-0 bonus-point victory over the Waratahs last Friday. The result ensured that Swys de Bruin's men remained top of the Overall Conference standings, a point clear of the second-placed Crusaders.

The Reds didn't enjoy as fruitful a Round 10 as their opponents for this weekend, going down 12-36 to the Chiefs. Last weekend's defeat was the Reds' fourth successive loss and has left them floundering in fourth place on the Australian Conference standings.

Verdict: Reds (+13.5) 9/10 *forecast handicap
This handicap is a bit too high for my liking. The Reds have proved able to frustrate sides this year. I can see the Lions taking his one but not by more than 13.5.

Blues v Jaguares
Eden Park
09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Blues 7/20
Draw 25/1
Jaguares 22/10


Handicap *forecast handicap
Blues (-9.5) 10/11
Jaguares (+9.5) 10/11


Next up we have a clash between the bang in-form Jaguares and the miss firing Blues. The hosts went down to local opposition for the 16th time in succession last week as the Highlanders beat them 16-34. The Jaguares enjoyed a much better time as they made it back-to-back tour wins with a 20-25 victory over the Brumbies.

It may be early days in the week but Tana Umaga may have to call in a few rookies, with the Blues already mammoth injury list likely to have a few names added to it after last weekend's bruising local derby.

Verdict: Blues (-8) 9/10 *forecast handicap
It's all well and good beating Australian opposition but you're not going to have as easy a time of it against a Kiwi side, even if they do currently prop up the New Zealand Conference. I'm expecting a big Blues win here.

Brumbies v Crusaders
GIO Stadium

11:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Brumbies 
9/2
Draw 28/1

Crusaders 28/1

Handicap *forecast handicap
Brumbies (+14) 10/11
Crusaders (-14) 10/11


The day's mid-morning fixture sees the Brumbies take on the reigning champions in Canberra. The hosts come into this one off the back of a shock 20-25 loss to the Jaguares, which has left fans and pundits questioning whether the Brumbies are lacking mental fortitude. The Crusaders also didn't have it all their own way last weekend but they still managed to grab a 33-11 bonus point win over the Sunwolves in truly atrocious weather conditions.

When the two sides met last year the Brumbies managed to give the Crusaders a real scare with the Kiwi side only managing to run out 17-13 victors in Christchurch. The Crusaders will probably be able to rack up a few more points this time around with the weather forecast looking a lot better than last year and a few of their big guns having been rested last week.

Verdict: Crusaders (-14) 9/10 *forecast handicap
It's rather sad to say, as this used to be one of the most competitive fixtures on the Super Rugby calendar, but the Crusaders should have no problems clearing the handicap against a very mediocre Brumbies outfit.

Bulls v Highlanders
Loftus Versfeld
17:15


To Win (80 Mins)
Bulls 16/10
Draw 22/1

Highlanders 5/10

Handicap *forecast handicap
Bulls (+6) 10/11
Highlanders (-6) 10/11


We close out the round with the headline clash of the day between the Bulls and Highlanders. The men from Loftus have been in solid form of late and have won all three of their games following their competitive tour of  New Zealand.

The Highlanders also come into this one in great touch with Aaron Mauger's side winning their last two fixtures by convincing margins. They also have one of the tournament's form players amongst their ranks with centre Rob Thompson sure to make a mark this weekend.

Verdict: Bulls 16/10
I'm backing the hosts on the board here. John Mitchell's side have looked the real deal in recent weeks and I think the Highlanders may well struggle in the last 20-minutes of this one due to their long-haul flight to South Africa.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net


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