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Super Rugby Round 4 Preview

Written by @QuintenLetcher for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Round 3 proved a tricky one, with several upsets providing a good return for the braver punter. The Waratahs take an early lead on the log, having claimed maximum points in their first two clashes. They are followed closely by the Sharks and Chiefs, who top their respective conferences heading into Round 4. This week provides more evenly weighted fixtures, but that doesn’t mean we won’t witness an upset or two.

Hurricanes vs Brumbies | Friday 09 March | Westpac Stadium | 08:35

To Win (80mins)
Hurricanes 7/10
Draw 28/1
Brumbies 5/4

Hurricanes (-2.5) 9/10
Brumbies (+2.5) 9/10

The Hurricanes have made just two changes to the side that should have beaten the Stormers last weekend. Adam Hill comes in at blindside flanker and James Marshall starts at fifteen. The Brumbies bounced back from their opening round defeat by brushing aside a mediocre Force side last week, but will be forced to test their depth in the loose forwards against the Hurricanes following the loss of the influential David Pocock. The loss of Pocock has lead to a massive reshuffle of the Brumbies’ forward pack, which should prevent them carrying any momentum through from last week’s victory.

The Hurricanes by 5. Take them on the -2.5 handicap at 9/10.

Reds vs Cheetahs | Friday 09 March | Suncorp Stadium | 10:40

To Win (80mins)

Reds 1/4
Draw 30/1
Cheetahs 34/10

Reds (-9.5) 9/10
Cheetahs (+9.5) 9/10

Both sides need to tidy up their defenses following a forgettable Round 3. The Reds failed to contain the effective off-loading tactics of the table-topping Waratahs last weekend, but will fancy their chances against an under-performing Cheetahs outfit. Queensland have made five changes, most notably the promotion of youngster Chris Feauai-Sautia to the starting line-up. The Cheetahs failed to hold off the Rebels last week, meaning they have a bit of work to do if they hold aspirations of making the playoffs again this year. They’ll be without Springbok bruiser Coenie Oosthuizen, who is currently being treated for a potentially career-ending neck injury. The Reds have shown how effective their current setup can be, and with home ground advantage they should pick up the points comfortably.

The Reds by 7-10. It’s going to be tight, but I like the Cheetahs on the plus handicap at 9/10.

Crusaders vs Stormers | Saturday 08 March | AMI Stadium | 08:35

To Win (80mins)
Crusaders 1/5
Draw 30/1
Stormers 38/10

Crusaders (-11.5) 9/10
Stormers (+11.5) 9/10

The Crusaders are known for their late surges at the back end of the competition, and having lost their first two games, the prospect of the Stormers could be an early place to start. They’ll be without veteran Richie McCaw, who is suffering with a broken thumb, as well as point-machine Dan Carter, who is enjoying a sabbatical. Todd Blackadder has rung the changes for this must-win clash following their shock loss to the Blues. The Stormers have failed to impress so far this season, having suffered a humiliating defeat to the Lions two weeks back and finding themselves lucky to avoid a second defeat against the Hurricanes last week. They will be strengthened by the return of menacing flanker Schalk Burger but I’m not sure that will be able to negate the general disadvantage of being on the road.

The Crusaders by 10-15. The handicap makes this a tricky one. It may be best to just back the Crusaders at 1/5, preferably in a multiple, and be done with it.

Force vs Rebels | Saturday 08 March | NIB Stadium | 10:40

To Win (80mins)

Force 16/10
Draw 25/1
Rebels 11/20

Force (+4.5) 9/10
Rebels (-4.5) 9/10

The Force will be looking to up their game this week as captain Matt Hodgson runs out for his 100th Super Rugby cap, but it is unlikely they will be able to lift it enough to cause an upset. To be brutally honest, they haven’t looked capable of an upset ever since they lost Pocock to the Brumbies. South African Sias Ebersohn cracks the nod to start this week, replacing Zack Holmes in the back line. The Rebels remain unbeaten against the Force in Perth, and it is unlikely that is going to change this weekend, if last Friday’s five-try battering of the Cheetahs is anything to go by.

The Rebels by 5-10. Use the handicap at 9/10 to your advantage.

Bulls vs Blues | Saturday 08 March | Loftus Versfeld | 17:05

To Win (80mins)

Bulls 11/20
Draw 28/1
Blues 31/20

Bulls (-3.5) 9/10
Blues (+3.5) 9/10

The Bulls managed to secure their first victory of the season last week, and will be hoping they can make it two from two when they run out at Loftus against the Blues this week. They have battled to find good form following the loss of pivot Morne Steyn last season, but they seem to be building with the young talent at their disposal. The Blues pulled off the ultimate shock defeat last weekend by taking down the Crusaders, and enjoying the boost of Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock back in the pack, there is a good chance they’ll cause another problem this week in Pretoria

The Blues by 5. Take them outright at 31/20.

Sharks vs Lions | Saturday 08 March | Kings Park | 19:10

To Win (80mins)
Sharks 1/7
Draw 33/1
Lions 11/2

Sharks (-13.5) 9/10
Lions (+13.5) 9/10

With Jake White’s charges having enjoyed a week off after a resounding start to the competition, expect the new-look Sharks to come out firing on all cylinders in front of their home crowd this week. Patrick Lambie and Francois Steyn continue to meddle in the back line, and will be looking to ensure another maximum point victory for the home side. The Lions have had an amazing start to the season, suffering their first defeat of the year to the Bulls last week. They’ll battle to find the bounce of the ball going their way this week, with their determined opponents knowing just how to take luck right out of the game.

The Sharks by 15. Take them on the -13.5 handicap at 9/10.

Think we’ve got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this is going to play out.

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