Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Super Rugby Aotearoa: Round 7 Preview

Super Rugby Aotearoa: Round 7 Preview

Super Rugby Aotearoa: Round 7 Preview

Shaun Goosen looks ahead to this weekend's Super Rugby Aotearoa fixtures. The Crusaders and the Hurricanes kick things off at the Orangetheory Stadium on Saturday before the Blues and Chiefs lock horns at Eden Park.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Saturday 25 July

Crusaders v Hurricanes
09h05
Orangetheory Stadium

To Win Match
Crusaders 1/5
Draw 30/1

Hurricanes 7/2

Handicap
Crusaders (-11.5) 9/10
Hurricanes (+11.5) 9/10

The Crusaders will host an in-form Hurricanes side at the Orangetheory Stadium on Saturday.

Since their 25-39 Wellington defeat to the 'Saders in the second round, the Canes have beaten the Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues in succession. Their performance last week over the latter was particularly impressive, with the likes of Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett setting the tone for what was a thrilling 29-27 win.

With their second bye coming up, Jason Holland’s men will look to empty the tank at a venue where the Crusaders have not lost since 2016. They’ll be riding a big wave of confidence, but the men in red are always the marker by which standards are measured and another litmus test will await the Canes on Saturday.

Following their bye last week, Scott Robertson’s boys will be refreshed and refocused after what was a bruising win over the Blues in round five. Many Kiwi pundits have predicted the three-time Super Rugby champions won’t go throughout the entire competition unbeaten such is the quality in Aotearoa. If that forecast is to ring true, chances are the defeat will be outside of Christchurch.

Verdict: Crusaders (-11.5) 9/10
The Crusaders will be too good at home, though the Canes may ask questions in broken field. 

Sunday 26 July

Blues v Chiefs
05h35
Eden Park

To Win Match
Blues 7/20
Draw 25/1
Chiefs 9/4

Handicap
Blues (-7.5) 9/10
Chiefs (+7.5) 9/10

The faltering Blues will look to maintain their standing in second place when they host an under-pressure Chiefs team at Eden Park on Sunday.

After their glorious start to the competition, the Blues are now presiding over two straight Ls. Last week’s narrow defeat to the Canes in Wellington has pulled them right back into something of a scrap for second place, with just three points now separating the Blues (13) from the fourth-placed Highlanders (10).

Growing pains are to be expected for a team that has undergone such big changes of late though, and it shouldn’t be long before they bounce back.

The winless Chiefs have stumbled from one poor result to another with last week’s baffling last-minute home loss to the Highlanders the stuff of nightmares. Despite playing some truly dazzling footy and twice building up healthy leads, they still managed to snatch defeat from victory’s jaws.

If virtually anyone other than Warren Gatland was their coach, it’s hard to see how they’d keep their post for another season. Gats, though, is one of the finest in the business and you’d think his bosses down in Waikato will write this season off as a “learning curve” with all eyes fervently fixed on the future.

Verdict: Chiefs 9/4
I’m going to stick my neck out again here and back the Chiefs to finally come good and upset the Blues at home.

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