Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 5 Preview

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 5 Preview

Aaron Smith of the Highlanders

Round five of Super Rugby Aotearoa gets underway this weekend with two delicious-looking clashes set to take place!

The most anticipated game of the weekend - and indeed the tournament so far - sees the undefeated Crusaders and the Blues clash at the Orangetheory Stadium.

There's also plenty of intrigue surrounding Sunday's clash at Sky Stadium where Hurricanes and Highlanders will be looking to close the gap on the tournament leaders.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Crusaders v Blues
Saturday 11 July 09h05
Orangetheory Stadium

To Win (80 mins)
Crusaders 1/3
Draw 25/1
Blues 24/10

Crusaders (-8.5) 9/10
Blues (+8.5) 9/10

The result of Saturday’s mammoth clash between the Crusaders and Blues at the Orangetheory Stadium could go a long way to determining the destination of the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.

While there may still be several rounds of action left in the competition, one would think that the result in Christchurch this weekend could be decisive.

The Blues, who for so many years have consistently underwhelmed, have played electrifying footy in winning each of their opening three matches of the tournament. Their bye in round four may have come at just the right time for them ahead of Saturday’s showdown.

The last time the Blues beat the Cantabrians was six years ago with an 11-game losing run to show for their efforts. Trailing the hosts by two log points on the Aotearoa standings, they cannot afford to lose more ground here.

The Crusaders, reigning three-time champions of Super Rugby, kicked off their campaign in the second round and have amassed a whopping 97 points in their three matches so far - averaging 32 points per game. They’ve conceded just 58 or 19 points a game.

The men from Canterbury have made the most clean breaks (37) and scored the most tries (12) in the competition so far. While the Blues do boast the highest tackle completion rate (88%), they cannot take anything for granted coming up against the attacking threats of Will Jordan, Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor.

Verdict: Blues on the board at 24/10
I’m going against the grain here and backing the ever-improving Blues to pull off a huge upset. If the visitors can prevent the Saders from tearing away in the final quarter, Beauden Barrett and company may be able to rein them in. 

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Hurricanes v Highlanders
Sunday 12 July 05h35
Sky Stadium

To Win (80 mins)
Hurricanes 4/10
Draw 22/1
Highlanders 21/10

Hurricanes (-6.5) 9/10
Highlanders (+6.5) 9/10

Having claimed their first win last week, the Hurricanes will be eager to follow that up with another over the Highlanders at the Sky Stadium on Sunday.

The Canes disposed of the struggling Chiefs 25-18 in Hamilton and are now up and running in the tournament. Their four log points may be far off the unbeaten Crusaders (14) and Blues’ (12), but a win here would see them leapfrog the 'Landers (five) into third position.

Senior players Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett are beginning to look the part for their side, while Kobus van Wyk’s brace of tries last time out will go a long way to settling the nerves he must have felt in the wake of his moment of madness against the Crusaders in the previous round.

The 'Landers, though, aren’t looking too shoddy themselves and gave the 'Saders a real run for their money a week ago after leading by three points at the break in Dunedin. Aaron Smith was sublime and if not for a typically clinical second-half showing from the men in red, could well have dragged his team over the line.

Verdict: Hurricanes (-6.5) 9/10
Sunday’s encounter should be a tight one, with Barrett’s booming boot likely to play a role at some stage. The hosts should sneak it.

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets.

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