Sat, Mar 15, 10:32am by Daryl Curnow
When/Where: Saturday, March 15. Game kicks off at 7:40pm at Canberra Stadium, Canberra, A.C.T.
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ARGUABLY the two best teams in the Australian Conference face each other tonight when the Brumbies take on the visiting Waratahs. The Brumbies have won back-to-back games after dropping their first 2014 Super Rugby clash against the Reds 27-17 in Brisbane but many pundits are questioning their strength of schedule to date. A 27-14 win against the Force followed in week two before they defeated the Hurricanes in a tough tussle in Wellington 29-21. They will however get added motivation for this game as former Waikato Chief Henry Speight will play his 50th Super Rugby game.
Speight along with his teammates will be looking to stop the unbeaten Waratahs who have hit top form early in the season, largely thanks to try scoring machine Israel Folau and the smart ball-playing second-five Kurtley Beale. The Waratahs started their season with a demolishing of the Western Force 43-21 where Folau scored a hat-trick and then in week two they dismantled the Reds 32-5 in an impressive team display. Not only are their backs firing on all cylinders but their forwards including the big South African Jacques Potgieter are all playing well within themselves. Wycliff Palu and Michael Hooper provide Wallaby experience into a talented forward pack that is gifting their outside backs plenty of quality go forward ball.
Over the last several years the head-to-head comparison is extremely close with both teams sitting at five wins from 10 games. The Brumbies have proved tough to beat at home however, winning four from their five home games with a winning margin of +85 points which is certainly a hefty margin. Their last clash resulted in the Waratahs winning at home by eight points in 2013 but the Brumbies won their prior clash on home soil 35-6. It certainly looks like a closely fought contest and it could come down to that all important goal kicking.
1. Scott Sio
2. Stephen Moore
3. Ben Alexander
4. Leon Power
5. Sam Carter
6. Scott Fardy
7. Jarrad Butler
8. Ben Mowen (c)
9. Nic White
10. Matt Toomua
11. Robbie Coleman
12. Pat McCabe
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Henry Speight
15. Jesse Mogg
Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Ruan Smith, Jean-Pierre Smith, Jordan Smiler, Locky McCaffrey, Andrew Smith, Michael Dowsett, Lionel Cronje.
1. Benn Robinson
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau
3. Paddy Ryan
4. Jacques Potgieter
5. Kane Douglas
6. Dave Dennis (c)
7. Michael Hooper
8. Wycliff Palu
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley
11. Peter Betham
12. Kurtley Beale
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper
14. Alofa Alofa
15. Israel Folau
Reserves: Tola Latu, Jeremy Tilse, Sekope Kepu, Will Skelton, Stephen Hoiles, Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbin, Rob Horne, Matt Carraro, Jonno Lance.
Brumbies – $1.91 at Sportsbet.com.au
Waratahs – $1.91
The bookmakers can’t split these two teams and rightfully so. Whilst the Waratahs have performed better in their two games to date, the Brumbies have a great record at home against them and those facts usually stand up. Both teams have plenty of firepower in the backs and strong forward dominance. This game could become a grinding affair and we favour the Brumbies in that situation.
Brumbies -2 @$2.10
Waratahs -2 @$2.10
Much like the head-to-head option, both teams are at equal value however if you want more than $1.91 then we suggest taking the -2 option with very little risk. Teams often win by a penalty kick at worse and the Brumbies have put up big numbers at home against the Waratahs in the past.
Sportsbet.com.au allow punters to create their own lines and we’re suggesting to take Brumbies -6.5 at $2.95. We think they have enough skill to overcome a converted try points spread and the value is definitely with the Brumbies at this line. When taking a line like -6.5 it’s always wise to cover your bet with an ‘exact winning margin’ bet. In this case we’re taking the Brumbies to win by 6 at odds of $26. There’s nothing worse than losing a points spread bet by .5 so this option takes that pain away.
Last week we may not have correctly predicted the result, but we did suggest taking Alby Mathewson as the first try scorer at odds of $17. The scrum half did the job and this week we are featuring the outside backs for both teams.
Henry Speight @$11 – he would love nothing more than to score in his 50th Super Rugby game and he is one of the favourites to do so. The backs will want to show their prowess in this game and Speight has the power to crash over the line first.
Israel Folau @8 – the clear favourite and it’s not hard to see why. The former NRL and AFL player hasn’t taken long to adjust to playing rugby and he’s scoring tries at the rate of knots. He has the ability to run onto the ball when needed so expect the big back to be running off the play makers all night.
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