Thu, Jul 5, 12:41pm by Staff Writer
With only two rounds of the 2018 Super Rugby season remaining, there is still plenty to play for, with teams across all three conferences vying for a finals berth.
Reds versus Rebels
Friday, 6 July 2018 at 7.45pm AEST at Suncorp Stadium
The Reds host the visiting Rebels on Friday night in a must-win for the Melbourne side.
The visitors are four points behind the conference-leading New South Wales Waratahs and are $1.53 for their second win this season against the Reds.
The Reds are $2.50 and were cruelled by ill discipline in the first match between the sides in round two.
Captain Scott Higginbotham was sent off in the 9th minute, with the Rebels running out 45-19 winners.
Poor discipline has been a theme for the Reds all season, with Brad Thorn’s young side giving away two yellow cards last week in a convincing 39-16 loss to the Blues in Auckland.
The Rebels will be bitterly disappointed to have conceded two tries in the final 10 minutes against the Tahs to surrender a crucial lead, and squander an important five competition points.
The Rebels have no choice but to win this game and with that carat they will be able to cover the 4.5-point handicap relatively comfortably, despite their road woes.
Best bet- Rebels to cover 4.5-point handicap at $1.91
Waratahs versus Sunwolves
Saturday, 7 July 2018 at 7.45pm AEST at Allianz Stadium
The Waratahs take on the Sunwolves in Sydney as firm $1.15 favourites. The Japanese side are $5.50 underdogs.
A bonus point win to the Tahs would almost assure them of a finals berth and will guarantee their place if the Rebels lose on Friday night.
A string of close losses to New Zealand sides in the last two months, where the Tahs had a 1-3 record has meant that their battle for Australian conference supremacy has dragged on far longer than it has deserved.
The Sunwolves started the season poorly, but have recovered in the second half of the season, despite being without their Test representatives for a fortnight.
Last weekend’s pulsating 42-39 win against the Bulls in Singapore was one of a number of recent highlights for the team, as they have collected their greatest number of wins in a single Super Rugby campaign.
Travelling from the heat and humidity of Singapore to the winter weather in Sydney will require significant adjustment.
The Sunwolves have not been disgraced in their two prior trips to Australia this season, but have been thumped by the Tahs in their only two previous meetings.
The line for this match is set at 16.5-points and given that the Tahs have more to play for and average a 33 point winning margin against the Sunwolves, they should cruise home.
Best bet- Waratahs to cover 16.5-point handicap at $1.91
Bulls versus Jaguares
Saturday, 7 July 2018 at 11.05pm AEST at Loftus Versfeld
The Bulls and the Jaguares meet in the closest match of the round from a betting standpoint.
The Jags have won seven matches in a row but are $2 at Sportsbet for their visit to Pretoria to take on the Bulls.
The home side are $1.80 favourites despite losing their past three matches.
One of those was a 54-24 drubbing against the Jags in Buenos Aires in May.
Counting against the Jaguares is that they have won only once in South Africa in three Super Rugby seasons.
That was in their inaugural game in 2016 when they defeated the Cheetahs. Their only match against the Bulls in Pretoria was a 26-13 loss last season.
The Jaguares have been a formidable force on the road recently, winning their past four matches, including two in New Zealand.
With the Lions on a bye week, a win for the Jags would move them to the top of the South African conference with one round to play.
The Bulls are by no means easy beats, but they are returning from a loss in Singapore last weekend, so the travel factor will be greater for the hosts.
Back the Jaguares to win a close game.
Best bet- Jaguares Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $3.10
The weekend also features a South Island derby between the high-flying Crusaders ($1.30) and the Highlanders ($3.50) in Canterbury. The visitors were thrashed last week and will be desperate to atone for their performance.
The Chiefs ($1.17) and Hurricanes ($1.20) should both win easily against the Brumbies ($5) and Blues ($4.50) respectively.
In South Africa, the Stormers ($1.80) and Sharks ($2) are playing for pride in a clash of two foundation teams.
Super Rugby Round 18 Odds – Sportsbet
Crusaders $1.30 v Highlanders $3.50
Reds $2.50 v Rebels $1.53
Chiefs $1.17 v Brumbies $5
Hurricanes $1.20 v Blues $4.50
Waratahs $1.15 v Sunwolves $5.50
Bulls $1.80 v Jaguares $2
Stormers $1.80 v Sharks $2
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