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PREVIEW: More thrills ahead as Super Rugby Pacific enters round 12

With just three rounds of Super Rugby’s regular season remaining we’re in for an absolute dogfight for quarter-final berths and hosting rights. The big fixtures this weekend see the Brumbies host the Crusaders and Reds take on the Blues.

Super Rugby - Fijian Drua perform Bole war dance

With just three rounds of the regular season remaining we're in for an absolute dogfight for quarter-final berths and hosting rights. The big fixtures this weekend see the Brumbies host the Crusaders and Reds take on the Blues.

Super Rugby Pacific

Friday 13 May

Highlanders 1/10 | Draw 33/1 | Western Force 11/2 (09:05)

Highlanders (-15.5) 9/10 | Force (+15.5) 9/10

This is a pivotal fixture for both these sides with the Highlanders currently occupying the last quarter-final berth and the Force only three points behind them in tenth place.

Both teams haven’t exactly set the comp alight with the Highlanders only winning three of their 11 fixtures while the Force have won two of the 10 games they’ve played.

The Highlanders do come into this one off the back of a solid fortnight, however, beating the Drua 24-27 in Suva and then registering their result of the season last weekend as they beat the Reds 19-27 in Queensland.

The Force have had a far tougher time of it over the last two weeks going down 18-22 to the Blues in Round 11 and then being hammered 15-53 by the Crusaders last weekend.

The hosts have sprung a mammoth surprise fielding centre Sam Gilbert at pivot. I think this move may well stifle their attack somewhat which is why I’m backing the visitors on a very generous plus.

Brumbies 18/10 | Draw 20/1 | Crusaders 9/20 (11:45)

Brumbies (+5.5) 9/10 | Crusaders (-5.5) 9/10

Australia’s most successful Super Rugby side goes up against New Zealand’s this Friday with cross-conference rivals the Brumbies and the Crusaders squaring off at the GIO in Canberra. 

The hosts are on a massive hot streak against Kiwi opposition having beaten the Highlanders 17-28 in Round 10, the Hurricanes 42-25 in Round 11 and then the Chefs 28-38 this past weekend.

Their opponents have been a bit more patchy since the cross-conference action kicked off registering impressive wins over Australian minnows the Rebels (42-17) and the Force (15-53) while shockingly going down 24-21 to the Waratahs.

While have been mightily impressed by the Australian side this year, I reckon the Crusaders will still have their number here. It’s the business end of the comp and this is where the men from Canterbury come good.

Saturday 14 May

Drua 8/10 | Draw 20/1 | Moana Pasifika 21/20 (06:35)

Drua (-1.5) 9/10 | Moana Pasifika (+1.5) 9/10

The two new boys will go head-to-head in a battle to keep their play-off hopes alive in Saturday’s opener. The Drua currently sit in 11th spot and are 10 points off the Highlanders who are in eighth. They would need to claim five points from their remaining two fixtures and hope the Highlanders take nothing from their last two games.

Moana Pasfika, who are a place and a point behind the Drua, have a better chance of qualification as they still have three games to play. They would need to win this one though in order to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Both sides head into this one off the back of defeats with Moana Pasifika managing to claim a losing bonus point from their 20-26 loss to the Waratahs and the Drua getting nothing from their 67-5 defeat to the Hurricanes.

These two teams are realistically out of the running for a play-off berth so the shackles could well be off here. I reckon the Drua will thrive with the pressure off and should be good enough to clear the slimmest of handicaps.

Blues2/9 | Draw 40/1 | Reds 8/1 (09:05)

Blues (-20.5) 9/10 | Reds (+20.5) 9/10

Next up we’ve got the overall conference-leading Blues taking on a Reds side that has had a torrid time against New Zealand opposition thus far.

The hosts are enjoying a splendid inaugural Super Rugby Pacific campaign and have won 10 of their 11 fixtures with their only defeat coming in the first round where they went down 32-33 to the Hurricanes. They delivered arguably their best attacking display of the season last Friday as they hammered the Rebels 71-28. This result was made all the more impressive as the Rebels raced into a 14-0 lead early on.

As touched on earlier, the Reds have really struggled over the past three weeks going down 30-17 to the Hurricanes, 25-27 to the Chiefs and 19-27 to the Highlanders. They just cannot buy a win over New Zealand opposition at the minute and they are unlikely to change that against a very good Blues outfit.

The Blues know that a win here would go a long way to solidifying top spot for them. As such, I think they may well be rather conservative which means the Reds could well stay within a generous plus handicap.

Waratahs 37/20 | Draw 22/1 | Hurricanes 9/20 (11:45)

Waratahs (+6.5) 9/10 | Hurricanes (-6.5) 9/10

The Waratahs have exceeded expectations this term but are not resting on their laurels with the men from New South Wales now eyeing a home quarter-final berth. That goal could well be more attainable should they beat a dangerous but inconsistent Hurricanes outfit this weekend.

It has been a great fortnight for this weekend’s hosts who bounced back from a 51-27 Round 10 defeat to the Chiefs with a major upset as they beat the Crusaders 24-21 in Round 11. They managed to keep the momentum going last weekend as they beat a spirited Moana Pasifika side 20-26.

Their opponents have an identical record to them since the tournament went cross-conference with the ‘Canes registering wins over the Reds (30-17) and the Drua (67-5) while going down 42-25 to the Brumbies.

This game should have loads of points in it so the overs lines via the Live In-Play platform is what I will be looking at come kick off. I’ll also be having a crack on the ‘Canes to clear a pretty modest handicap.

Sunday 15 May

Rebels 11/2 | Draw 33/1 | Chiefs 1/10 (06:00)

Rebels (+15.5) 9/10 | Chiefs (-15.5) 9/10

The Rebels and Chiefs will bring the curtain down on the Round 12 action. The two sides find themselves in polar opposite positions headed into this round with the Chiefs looking to cement themselves in the top 4 while the Rebels are looking to sneak into the play-off spots.

The two sides both experienced defeats in Round 11 with the Chiefs beaten 28-38 by an in-form Brumbies outfit at home and the Rebels were absolutely demolished by a rampant Blues side.

Both sides ship a lot of points so the over points lines may be the smart play here. I’d also suggest backing the Chiefs on the minus as they will be looking for the try-scoring bonus point here.

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