Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Super Rugby 2020: Round 1 Friday Preview

Super Rugby 2020: Round 1 Friday Preview

Lizo Gqoboka breaks a tackle against the Cell C Sharks

The 2020 Super Rugby season will get underway on Friday the 1st of February. Darry Worthington previews the opening three matches below.

Rugby fans will get their first taste of Super rugby for the year this coming Friday with the tournament-opening up with three derbies. The first of day's games see the Blues tackle the Chiefs in what will be a fascinating fixture, while the Brumbies versus Reds game should provide a good yardstick to see what the Australian sides will produce this season. The opening day comes to a close with what will be a titanic struggle between the Sharks and the Bulls.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Blues vs Chiefs
Friday 1 February
Auckland Park
08:05

To Win (80 Mins)
Blues 12/10 | (+2.5) 9/10
Draw 22/1
Chiefs 7/10 | (-2.5) 9/10

Rieko Ioane of the Blues scores against the British and Irish Lions
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports
The Blues will be looking to build on their impressive pre-season form when they take on a Chiefs side that will play their first Super Rugby game with new coach Warren Gatland at the helm.

The hosts have been pretty good at covering handicaps during the opening round of the season and comfortably came home within the plus margin when they took on the Crusaders in last year's opener. They also have a number of All Blacks in their starting line-up including Rieko Ioane, who will be out to prove a point having endured a tough old 2019.

The Chiefs have opted against starting returning All Black fly-half Aaron Cruden and have instead handed the number 10 jersey to Bay of Plenty youngster, Caleb Trask. Trask will likely be guided by Damien McKenzie, who will enter the line in the fly-half position on a number of occasions. McKenzie has been ruled out of the game after sustaining a late injury in training. He will be replaced by Shaun Stevenson.

Verdict: Blues (+2.5) 9/10
I think this will be a very close game with both teams likely to produce some rather conservative rugby. As such, I'm leaning towards the Blues on the +2.5 line.

Brumbies vs Reds
Friday 1 February
GIO Stadium
10:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Brumbies 3/10 | (-8.5) 9/10
Draw 25/1
Reds 24/10 (+8.5) | 9/10

Bryce Hegarty of the Reds kicks a goal against the Blues
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports
We make the trip across the Tasman for our next encounter which will see two new-look Australian sides battle it out.

The Brumbies were the pick of the Australian Conference last year and were the only Australian side to advance to the play-offs. The Reds had a much tougher time of it in 2019 and could only muster up a fourth-place finish on the Australian Conference and a 14th place finish on the overall standings.

Both sides have lost some crucial players with David Pocock and Christian Lealiifano leaving the Brumbies and centres Samu Kervei and Duncan Paia'aua leaving the Reds.

Verdict: Reds (+8.5) 9/10
Like the Blues versus Chiefs game, I reckon this one will be incredibly close. Both teams have rookies starting at fly-half and are in adjustment periods. With the previous two sentences in mind, I'll be all over the Reds +8.5 at 9/10.

Sharks vs Bulls
Friday 1 February
Growthpoint Kings Park
19:10

To Win (80 Mins)
Sharks 7/10 | (-2.5) 9/10 
Draw 22/1
Bulls 12/10 | (+2.5) 9/10

Aphelele Fassi of the Sharks runs at Stormers defenders
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports
We close out the opening day of the competition with an all South African Conference affair which will see the Sharks square up against the Bulls. Both teams enjoyed solid if not spectacular seasons last term as they bombed out in the quarter-finals.

The two sides that will take to Jonsson Kings Park this Friday evening looking very different to the teams that turned out for these two franchises last year. The Bulls have lost Duane Vermeulen, Jesse Kriel, Schalk Britz and Handre Pollard while the Sharks are without the Du Preez brothers, Beast Mtawirira and Akker van der Merve.

Last year's two games between the sides saw the Sharks beat the Bulls win both home and away.

Verdict: Sharks (-2.5) 9/10
This Sharks team is being underrated by the bookies and I think they'll have no problems beating a Bulls team that has lost its experienced spine. My money is on the hosts clearing a very modest handicap. 

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