Thu, Mar 8, 2:35pm by Staff Writer
Round 4 of the 2018 Super Rugby season kicks off in Dunedin with the Highlanders hosting the Stormers from Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night.
Following that clash, the Melbourne Rebels will be looking to continue their best ever start in Super Rugby as they are aiming for three wins in a row to start the season against the Brumbies.
The match of the round takes place on Saturday night in Wellington when the Hurricanes host the defending champion Crusaders.
The Reds host the Bulls on Saturday night, while the Waratahs will be facing the Jaguares in Argentina on Sunday morning.
Melbourne Rebels versus ACT Brumbies
Friday, 9 March 2018 at 7.45pm AEDST at AAMI Park
The Melbourne Rebels have had a tremendous start to the 2018 Super Rugby season, but face their sternest test on Friday night when they host the Brumbies.
A lopsided 26-point win against the Reds in round two was thanks in large part to a 9th minute red card to Scott Higginbotham.
After a tight first half in Japan last week, the Rebels pulled away from the Sunwolves to record a 37-17 victory.
The Brumbies led the Australian conference last season and were pre-season favourites to go back-to-back in 2018, but have started this season poorly.
A narrow seven-point win against the Sunwolves was followed by an eight point loss to the Reds last Friday night.
The Brumbies have lacked cleanliness with ball in hand and don’t appear to have any gamebreakers early in the season.
With so much doubt clouding the Rebels future in 2017, they have already doubled last season’s win tally.
In what will be both sides toughest match of the season to date, we are siding with the in form Rebels to continue their blistering start in a close match.
Best bet- Melbourne Rebels Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $2.88
Wellington Hurricanes versus Canterbury Crusaders
Saturday, 10 March 2018 at 5.35pm AEDST at Westpace Stadium
The match of the round comes from Wellington with the Hurricanes hosting the Crusaders on Saturday night.
Canterbury have picked up where they left off last season, with dominant wins against the Chiefs and Stormers.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said his team prepared all off-season for their first match against the Bulls at altitude in Pretoria and was very disappointing in their performance, with the Bulls shocking the Canes 21-19 in round two.
Last weekend Wellington had too much firepower for the Jaguares in Argentina, with three second half tries the difference between the two sides.
The travel factor comes into play in this match, with the Hurricanes travelling from South Africa to Argentina and back to New Zealand all within the space of three weeks.
Conversely, the Crusaders have begun the season with two homes games and make the short journey to Wellington for this fixture.
These two teams are undoubtedly among the contenders for the 2018 title, but the Crusaders will have the rest advantage on the Hurricanes, and we expect them to pull away in the final 20 minutes.
Best bet- Crusaders to win at $1.95
Sharks versus Sunwolves
Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 12.05am AEDST at Kings Park
The Sharks have had an indifferent start to their 2018 campaign with a first start loss against 2017 finalists the Lions and a draw against the Waratahs last weekend.
What was most disappointing about their performance against the Waratahs was how reckless the Sharks were with ball in hand, committing 27 turnovers in the 24-all draw.
The Sunwolves have started the season with two home losses against the Brumbies and Rebels but weren’t disgraced in either fixture.
They will benegit from being in the Australian conference in 2018 and having a reduced travel schedule.
The team should now begin to gel after a few games together, with only a three-week pre-season afforded to many players after the end of the Japanese rugby union season.
The Sharks aren’t the sort of team I would be giving a 24.5 point start to against any team in Super Rugby, even the lowly Sunwolves.
Best bet- Sunwolves to cover +24.5 points at $1.90
Super Rugby round 4 odds
Highlanders $1.15 Stormers $5.50
Rebels $1.66 Brumbies $2.23
Hurricanes $1.86 Crusaders $1.95
Reds $1.67 Bulls $2.20
Sharks $1.04 Sunwolves $11
Lions $1.33 Blues $3.37
Jaguares $2.32 Waratahs $1.61
*Odds at Sportsbet
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