Wed, Jun 27, 2:17pm by Staff Writer
The 2018 Super Rugby season resumes on Friday night after a hiatus for the June international test window.
Only three rounds of the regular season remain, with positions in all three conferences uncertain heading into the closing rounds.
Melbourne Rebels versus NSW Waratahs
Friday, 29 June 2018 at 7.45pm AEST at AAMI Park, Melbourne
The Rebels and Tahs meet for the final time this season, separated by just a point in the Australian conference.
New South Wales are $1.62 favourites to claim a sweep of the Rebels this season and firm as favourites in the Australian conference.
The Rebels are $2.30 underdogs and may struggle without star half back Will Genia.
He suffered a broken arm in game two of the Wallabies test series against Ireland and will be sorely missed.
The Waratahs look to have come away from the international break unscathed, and produced some of their best rugby in recent years before the hiatus.
A win against the Highlanders, as well as narrow defeats against the Chiefs, Blues and Crusaders will have given confidence to Darryl Gibson’s charges, who have looked the most impressive Australian side this season.
The Rebels began the season brightly, but have been soundly beaten by better opposition on every occasion this season.
They have suffered big losses against the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Tahs, so will be looking to show their finals potential with a win on Friday night.
Given Genia’s absence, the 3.5-point line on offer for the Tahs looks values and given they pummelled the Rebels by 24 points in round five this season, they look a good bet.
Best bet- Waratahs to cover 3.5-point handicap at $1.91
Brumbies versus Hurricanes
Saturday, 30 June 2018 at 7.45pm AEST at GIO Stadium, Canberra
The Hurricanes have relinquished competition favouritism and trail the Crusaders by nine points in the New Zealand conference as they look to get back to winning ways against the Brumbies.
The hosts are huge $4.75 outsiders, with the Kiwis $1.18 favourites.
The Canes are giving away a 12.5-point start in what will be their second match in Australia this season.
They thrashed the Rebels 50-19 in Melbourne in late March and will be hoping to end their losing streak at two matches after successive losses against the Crusaders and Highlanders.
The last time these two sides met was in the 2017 finals series, where the Hurricanes were 35-16 winners.
A flurry of late points in the second half set up that victory, with the Hurricanes a strong side across the 80 minutes.
The Brumbies started the season slowly, but have won their past two matches. They will be up against it to make it three on the trot, and the Hurricanes should be too strong.
Best bet- Hurricanes to cover 12.5-point handicap at $1.90
Sunwolves versus Bulls
Saturday, 30 June 2018 at 9.55pm AEST at the Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
The Sunwolves will welcome back a host of players from international duty when they take on the Bulls in Singapore.
The ‘hosts’ have enjoyed good recent results in Singapore, defeating the Stormers and Bulls at the venue during the past two seasons.
They are $2.90 underdogs for this match at Sportsbet, with the Bulls $1.42 favourites.
The 6.5-point starting line is also a worthy bet, with the Japanese side consistently under-rated by oddsmakers this season.
The national side performed well during the June tests, winning two matches.
The Bulls have struggled in Super Rugby this season and are last in the South African conference.
A few wins have been scattered through their season, but they have lacked consistency and struggle on the road.
The hot and humid conditions will favour the Sunwolves. Backing them at the handicap is a safer option, but in the margin market, a price of $4 for a winning margin of 1-12 is excellent value.
Best bet- Sunwolves Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $4
Elsewhere in round 17 the lowly Blues will start as big favourites ($1.27) against the struggling Reds ($3.70) at Eden Park.
The Highlanders ($1.52) and Chiefs ($2.55) meet for the first time in Suva on Saturday afternoon, while the Sharks ($2.50) will be hoping to gain ground on the conference leading Lions ($1.54) when the two meet in Durban.
The Jaguares will be hoping to extend their winning streak to seven matches when they host the Stormers in Buenos Aires. Argentina lost all three of its recent internationals, but are $1.32 favourites to topple the Stormers at $3.35.
Super Rugby Round 17 Odds – Sportsbet
Blues $1.27 v Reds $3.70
Rebels $2.30 v Waratahs $1.62
Highlanders $1.52 v Chiefs $2.55
Brumbies $4.75 v Hurricanes $1.18
Sunwolves $2.90 v Bulls $1.42
Sharks $2.50 v Lions $1.54
Jaguares $1.32 v Stormers $3.35
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