Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Super Rugby Unlocked: Round 3 Preview

Super Rugby Unlocked: Round 3 Preview


Darry Worthington takes a look at the three Super Rugby Unlocked Round 3 fixtures, which will get underway on Friday the 23rd of October. 

Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Last weekend's Super Rugby Unlocked action was rather intriguing with the Pumas pulling off a massive upset by beating the Griquas away from home, while the Lions went down narrowly to the Stormers down in the Western Cape and the Bulls ran the Cheetahs close in Bloemfontein. 

We're set for another fascinating weekend of rugby with the Pumas taking on the Stormers in the Friday night's opener, the Lions tackling the log-leading Cheetahs the following down and the Bulls playing host to Sharks in the final match of the weekend.  

Pumas v Stormers
Friday 23 October
Mbombela Stadium
19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Pumas 13/2
Draw 33/1
Stormers 1/12

Handicap 
Pumas 9/10 (+17.5)
Stormers 9/10 (+17.5)

The Pumas will be looking to build on their upset 21-27 Round 2 fixture when they take on a Stormers side, who while registering a 21-17 win over the Lions last weekend, were far from their best in their opening fixture of the campaign. 

Not many punters would have predicted the Pumas to bounce back from their opening day 53-31 loss to the Cheetahs by pipping the Griquas in Kimberley. The men from Mbombela were inspiring last weekend and were well-deserving of their six-point victory. 

While the Pumas impressed last week, the same can't really be said of the Stormers who struggled to put the Lions to bed and were actually rather lucky to not concede a late try. The men should have been home a dry headed into the final quarter of the game but some poor decision making and errant goal-kicking from Damien Willimese made for a nail-biting finish. 

Verdict: Stormers
 9/10 (+17.5)
I reckon we'll see a much improved Stormers outfit. A hard deck in Mpumalanga should see the Cape franchise turn on the attacking magic. 

Lions v Cheetahs
Saturday 24 October
Emirates Airline Park
16:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Lions 92/100
Draw 22/1
Cheetahs 92/100

It's a battle of the cats next up with the luckless Lions taking on the Cheetahs in Johannesburg. Lady luck is certainly not smiling down on the hosts at the moment as after a late missed penalty from Elton Janjties cost them a draw in Durban in Round 1, they then got slightly aggrieved by the refereeing decisions in Cape Town last week as a cynical late offence from the Stormers went unnoticed. 

While the Lions weren't getting the rub of the green in Cape Town, the Cheetahs were getting it in Bloemfontein as a late conversion effort form Bulls replacement fly-half Chris Smith ensured the Cheetahs would avoid a draw and run out 19-17 victors over the Bulls in an extremely dour game of rugby. The victory did come at a cost, however, with former Springbok scrum-half Ruan Pienaar suffering what looked to be a very serious injury.  

On the plus side, the win means the Cheetahs head into Round 3 as log-leaders - not bad for a side that was priced up at 20/1 to win the tournament outright. 

Verdict: Cheetahs (92/100)
We should see a very expansive game here with both sides not scared to give the ball air. I can see the Cheetahs winning what is likely to be a high-scoring thriller.  

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Bulls v Sharks
Saturday 24 October
Loftus Versfeld
19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Bulls 8/10
Draw 22/1
Sharks 21/20

Handicap
Bulls 9/10 (-1.5)
Sharks 9/10 (-1.5)


The Bulls and Sharks will bring the curtain down on the round. The hosts head into this one off the back of the aforementioned two-point defeat to the Cheetahs while the Natalians enjoyed a bye last weekend. 

Jake White will not have been pleased with his side's performance in Bloemfontein, and he'll be even less pleased with Chris Smith's conversion attempt that would have likely seen the Bulls walk away from the Toyota Stadium with a respectable two-point log haul. 

This will be the Sharks second game of the campaign with their first fixture seeing them edge the Lions 19-16. Like the Bulls, the Natalians haven't given the best of first impressions in this tournament, looking a far cry from the side that was domination the Africa Conference in Super Rugby. 

Verdict: Bulls (8/10)
I have a feeling the Bulls will come good here. Clinton Swart solidified their midfield last week and the outside backs are likely to have worked his style of play out a bit more with the extra week of training. My money is on the former Griquas centre being the catalyst for a Bulls win. 

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