Thu, Jul 12, 2:39pm by Staff Writer
The final round of the 2018 Super Rugby season has a number of implications for finals positioning, the spots still up for grabs in the wildcard positions.
Chiefs versus Hurricanes
Friday, 13 July 2018 at 5.35pm AEST at FMG Stadium, Waikato
The Chiefs can overtake the Hurricanes with a bonus point win on Friday night when they host the side from Wellington.
The Canes are $1.60 favourites, with the Chiefs $2.35 outsiders.
Both sides bring contrasting form lines into this match. The Chiefs have won three of their past four matches, with the Canes losing three of their past four.
These two sides met in round nine this season and on that night it was the Canes who were victorious 25-13.
Prior to that, the Chiefs had won both encounters last season, including an eight-point win in Waikato.
The Hurricanes will be desperate to not surrender second position in the New Zealand conference and with little separating these two sides on paper, it is the Chiefs late-season form surge that has us believing they will take another scalp on the eve of the finals.
Best bet- Chiefs Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $3.50
Highlanders versus Rebels
Saturday, 14 July 2018 at 3.15pm AEST at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
The Highlanders return home for the first time in six weeks as they host the Rebels in their final match of the regular season.
It has been a very poor return from the international break for the Highlanders, who have been crushed by 23 points by both the Chiefs and Crusaders.
They now host a Melbourne Rebels side that must win the remain in contention for the finals and a team eager to put aside a disappointing 37-23 loss to the Reds last weekend.
The Highlanders are short-priced favourites for victory at $1.21, with the Rebels priced at $4.50.
The Rebels snared their first win in New Zealand in some time with a narrow win against the Blues earlier this season.
The Highlanders possess an imposing record against the Rebels, winning four of the past five matches between the two sides.
In a round six meeting last season, the Highlanders were convincing 51-12 winners.
The Rebels have been disappointing in the late part of the season, losing against the Tahs and Reds from winnable positions.
A victory in either of those games would have made their passage to a maiden finals much easier. As it stands, they don’t look ready to make the leap into the post-season and the Highlanders will be looking at this match as a finals tune up.
Best bet- Highlanders to cover 11.5-point handicap at $1.90
Sharks versus Jaguares
Sunday, 15 July at 1.15am AEST at Kings Park, Durban
A win for the Sharks against the Jaguares on Sunday morning and a Rebels loss to the Highlanders will seal an unlikely finals berth for the side from Durban.
They are $1.60 favourites at home to topple the Jaguares who are $2.35 outsiders.
The Jags lost their first match in eight when they were overpowered by the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend.
With their finals position guaranteed, the Jags will now be hoping to top the conference, three points in arrears of the Lions.
Recent matches between these two teams have favoured the home side, which has won three of the past five encounters.
The Jaguares defeated the Sharks 29-13 in round 15, after they raced out to a 17-0 lead.
The bulk of the Sharks’ wins this season have come at home, where they have won their past four matches.
With it all to play for on Sunday morning, they should cover the 3.5-point handicap against a Jags side that may not be able to finish top of the South African conference if the Lions beat the Bulls.
Best bet- Sharks to cover 3.5-point handicap at $1.90
The Reds will be looking to end their season with back-to-back home wins and are $1.27 favourites as they take on the Sunwolves who are $3.80 outsiders.
The Crusaders ($1.15) have sewn up top spot in the New Zealand conference and face the bottom placed Blues ($5.50) in Christchurch.
The Tahs ($1.44) are guaranteed to top the Australian conference but won’t be taking conference foes the Brumbies ($2.80) lightly, with the visitors a slim chance of playing finals if they get a bonus point win and the Rebels and Sharks both lose.
The Lions ($1.30) need a win or a Jags loss to guarantee top spot in the South African conference and host the Bulls ($3.50) at Ellis Park.
Super Rugby Round 19 Odds – Sportsbet
Chiefs $2.35 v Hurricanes $1.60
Reds $1.27 v Sunwolves $3.80
Highlanders $1.21 v Rebels $4.50
Crusaders $1.15 v Blues $5.50
Waratahs $1.44 v Brumbies $2.80
Lions $1.30 v Bulls $3.50
Sharks $1.60 v Jaguares $2.35
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