Thu, May 3, 10:03am by Staff Writer
Almost two-thirds of the 2018 Super Rugby season has been played, with New Zealand teams once again dominating the standings.
The Crusaders, Chiefs, Highlanders and Hurricanes are all in superb form, with South Africa’s Lions viewed as the only true competitor among the remaining teams.
This weekend’s play features a number of cross-conference matchups, headlined by the Lions visit to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Chiefs versus Jaguares
Friday, 4 May 2018 at 5.35pm AEST at Rotorua International Stadium
After a bye week, the Chiefs host the resurgent Jaguares who have won three matches in a row, including a gritty 20-13 win in pouring rain against Auckland last weekend.
This match will take place at the Bay of Plenty’s home ground in Rotorua, a feeder club to the Chiefs.
The home side are $1.17 favourites to win, with the Jaguares $5 outsiders.
The Chiefs have been impressive this season as they have played many matches undermanned, recording only two losses, both against fellow New Zealand sides.
The Jaguares had a disappointing start to the season but have enjoyed recent success in Australia, beating the Rebels and Brumbies before a shock win against the Blues.
A match against the Chiefs will be a set up in class for the Jaguares, who have played teams hopefully out of form in recent time.
The two matches the Argentinians have played against elite competition this year at home against the Hurricanes and Crusaders resulted in 25 and 26 point losses respectively.
With this match being played in New Zealand and the Chiefs refreshed after a bye, the 13.5-point handicap at $1.90 looks far too short for the hosts.
The Chiefs have bullied lesser opposition this season with big wins against the Sunwovles and Reds. While this match won’t be as easy, they should win by 20+ points.
Best bet- Chiefs to cover -13.5-point handicap at $1.90
Hurricanes versus Lions
Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 5.35pm AEST at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Title favourites the Hurricanes host the Lions from South Africa who will be looking to bounce back from a shock defeat last weekend to the Reds.
The Lions were dominant in Sydney just a fortnight ago, shutting out the hosts 29-0, but faltered against the Reds, falling behind 27-0 before a late comeback to finish 27-22 losers.
The Lions start this match as $5 underdogs with the Hurricanes priced at $1.17.
The Canes were lethargic last weekend against the Sunwolves. They were more than a six try favourite in that contest and needed three late tries to stretch the final score to 43-15.
The last time the Lions visited Westpac Stadium they lost 20-3 in the 2016 Super Rugby Final.
The teams met again last season in Johannesburg, where the Lions were too strong 44-29.
The Lions were disappointing last weekend but the Hurricanes have shown that they can be vulnerable, as their recent narrow win against the Sharks after the sire showed.
The visitors are the best team in the South African conference and will have a point to prove this week. Take the Lions at the line.
Best bet- Lions to cover +13.5-point handicap at $1.90
Waratahs versus Blues
Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 7.45pm AEST at Brookvale Oval, Manly
The Waratahs take a home fixture away from Allianz Stadium to the Northern Beaches and the home of the Manly Sea Eagles, when they host the Blues on Saturday night.
The Tahs open as $1.50 favourites, with the Blues $2.60 outsiders.
The Blues suffered yet another loss last weekend, this time at home to the Jaguares. The hapless Aucklanders are 2-7 this season and no chance of making the playoffs.
The Waratahs had a bye last weekend, but are coming off their heaviest defeat of the season, a 29-0 thumping by the Lions a fortnight ago.
Both sides will be desperate to win this match, with the Blues winning the most recent encounter between the two sides last season 40-33.
This is a different Waratahs side this season as they are clearly the best team in the Australian conference.
The Blues are down on confidence and have shown an inability to possess the ball for long enough to challenge their opponents.
We are backing the Waratahs to grab a big win by 13+. The head-to-head price of $1.50 is also exceptional value and when added to a bet on the Chiefs ($1.17) and Crusaders ($1.14) forms an excellent value three-leg multi.
Best bet- Waratahs Big Win Little Win 13+ at $3
Value multi bet- Chiefs x Crusaders x Waratahs at $2
Super Rugby Round 12 Odds – Sportsbet
Chiefs $1.17 v Jaguares $5
Rebels $5.75 v Crusaders $1.14
Hurricanes $1.17 v Lions $5
Waratahs $1.50 v Blues $2.60
Stormers $1.90 v Bulls $1.90
Sharks $2.70 v Highlanders $1.47
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