Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Super Rugby Unlocked: Round 1 Preview

Super Rugby Unlocked: Round 1 Preview

Competitive South African rugby returns to our screen this weekend in the form of Super Rugby Unlocked.  

Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

The long wait is over with the South African domestic rugby scene finally restarting this coming weekend with the Super Rugby Unlocked tournament getting underway this coming Friday. 

We get the Round 1 action underway down in Durban where the Sharks will play host to a revamped Lions squad. Saturday's doubleheader gets underway in Bloemfontein with the Cheetahs taking on the Pumas. We then head over to Loftus where the Bulls will play host to the Free State Cheetahs. 

Sharks v Lions
Friday 9 October
Jonsson Kings Park

To Win Match
Sharks 5/10
Draw 20/1
Lions 33/20

Sharks 9/10 (-5.5)
Lions 9/10 (+5.5)

The Sharks will be looking to make home ground advantage pay off when they take on the Lions at Kings Park. The hosts had a solid start to the 2020 Super Rugby season winning five of the six games they played before the season was called off. 

Their opponents had a far less fruitful 2020 Super Rugby campaign only registering one win from their six outings prior to COVID put breaks on the campaign. 

Both these teams have lost a handful of players during the off-season with Tyrone Green, Shaun Reynolds and Kyle Brink while the Sharks will be without backline stars Andries Esterhuizen, Makozole Mapimpi and Aphelele Faasi with the former two having gone overseas and the latter being injured. 

Verdict: Sharks 9/10 (-5.5)
I reckon the Lions will give the Sharks a decent run for their money in the first half but then the Natalians will come into their own and seal the game by a comfortable margin. 

Cheetahs v Pumas
Saturday 10 October
Toyota Stadium

To Win Match
Cheetahs 1/14
Draw 33/1
Pumas 8/1

Cheetahs 9/10 (-21,5) 
Pumas 9/10 (+21,5) 

Saturday's first fixture will see the Cheetahs take on the Pumas at the Toyota Stadium. The hosts really do have a point to prove this year as they have all but been kicked out of the expanding PRO14 with South Africa's big four provinces set to take their place in the tournament. 

The Cheetahs have given a decent account of themselves in their warm-up games beating the Griquas 40-7 in Kimberley and 31-21 in Bloemfontein. They will also field a stronger side this coming weekend with new signings Frans Steyn and Rocko Specman back from 'Bok duty.   

The Pumas will have some rather decent memories of playing the Cheetahs with the men from Mpumalanga going down by just a 37-43 scoreline last year and beating the Cheetahs 14-42 in the 2018 Currie Cup. 

Verdict: Cheetahs 9/10 (-21,5)
I'm expecting the men from the Free State to make a big statement in their opener and put a massive score over the Pumas. This one could be full of tries as well so the In-Play points markets may be worth keeping an eye on this Saturday. 

Blue Bulls v Griquas
Saturday 10 October
Loftus Versfeld

To Win Match
Bulls 1/25
Draw 40/1 
Griquas 9/1

Bulls 9/10 (-25,5)
Griquas 9/10 (+25,5) 

Round 1 of Super Rugby will come to a close out in Pretoria where the Bulls will be looking to make an impression in Jake White's first truly competitive game in charge. 

The former Springbok mentor has been busy with the cheque book bringing a number of players to Loftus including veterans Gio Aplon and Nizaam Carr. It seems his spending has improved this Bulls outfit - who only won one game from their six Super Rugby 2020 fixtures - with White's men hammering the Sharks 49-28 in a Super Fan Saturday warm-up game.  

The Griquas didn't fare as well during the led into Super Rugby unlocked with the side from Griqualand going down to the Cheetahs two weeks in a row. 

Verdict: Bulls (-25.5)
I reckon the Bulls are set to put on an attacking masterclass this Saturday that will see them trounce the Griquas. 

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