Thu, Mar 29, 12:59pm by Staff Writer
Round 7 of Super Rugby features two blockbuster games on Friday night as the Chiefs host the Highlanders and the Rebels welcome competition favourites the Hurricanes to Melbourne.
The Chiefs have put together three wins in a row after an injury plagued start to the 2018 season. Wins against the Blues, Bulls and Sunwolves pale in comparison to what a win against fierce rivals the Highlanders would mean for the Waikato franchise.
The Highlanders won their first three matches of the season before a last-start loss to the Hurricanes, but have looked impressive so far this season and possess more depth in their replacements.
The Chiefs are $1.86 favourites with the Highlanders $1.95 outsiders at Sportsbet and we fancy the Highlanders to win 1-12 at $3.30 in a match this will go down to the wire.
The leaders of the Australian conference, the Melbourne Rebels face their sternest test on Friday night when they welcome the Hurricanes to town.
The Rebels have not beaten the Hurricanes in six attempts and last season lost 71-6 to the Canes in Wellington.
This is an enormous step up for the Rebels and their first real test of the season. With a tough fixture list remaining including a tour of South Africa, New Zealand and welcoming the Crusaders to Melbourne, this could be the start of the Rebels downturn.
The Hurricanes should win handsomely and the Big Win Little Win 13+ is paying a juicy $2.
The Blues return from South Africa splitting their two matches and will be well rested after a bye. They are short $1.19 favourites to beat the Sharks who are $4.75 outsiders for their Eden Park clash.
The Sharks ran out of legs in the second half against the Rebels after a spirited performance against the Waratahs a week prior.
The two teams have contested close matches in New Zealand, with the Sharks winning two of the past three games between the two sides in Auckland.
The Blues are a team where you don’t know what you’ll get on the day. They could win by 20, but could lose by 10. We are taking our chances with the Sharks at the generous +13.5 handicap at $1.90.
One of the most anticipated Australian conference matches between the Brumbies and Waratahs takes place on Saturday night in Canberra, with the Brumbies desperate for a win to turn their season around.
With only victories against the Sunwolves and Sharks, it is now or never for the Brumbies.
They are $2 home outsiders with the Waratahs $1.81 favourites.
Both teams are coming off a bye last round so should be well rested and not short on determination to beat their fellow rival.
We have liked what we have seen from the Waratahs far more than the Brumbies who have lacked the quality in their backline and discipline in defence to trouble the competition’s better sides.
Back the Waratahs at the head-to-head at $1.81.
The Bulls host the Stormers in Pretoria on Sunday morning with the Bulls in a difficult position having just returned from a tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Travel fatigue is sure to play a factor, yet the Bulls are only $2.25 home underdogs, with the Stormers $1.65 favourites.
Both the Stormers and Bulls have completed their Australia and New Zealand tours, so it is matches like these that will set the two teams apart.
Given the significant travel undertaken by the Bulls over the past month, it’s advantage Stormers and they should cover the 2.5-point handicap at $1.90.
The final match of round 7 takes place on Sunday night Australian time where the Lions and Crusaders meet in a rematch of the 2017 Super Rugby final.
On that occasion it was the Crusaders who lifted silverware and the Lions who lost their second consecutive Super Rugby final.
It’s fair to say the Crusaders have not been at their lethal best this season, but are overwhelming $1.40 favourites to beat the Lions.
With only losses to the Hurricanes and Highlanders on the road, the Crusaders should have too much for a Lions side that has looked a shadow of its former self.
A horrible defensive showing in Buenos Aires last weekend where they conceded 49 points will do little to inspire Lions fans and they are $3 outsiders at home, the biggest price they have been in some time.
The Lions will lift given the enormity of this matchup and the history between the two sides, but the Crusaders should sneak home.
A wager on 1-12 at $3 for the Crusaders looks the best play.
Super Rugby Round 7 Odds – Sportsbet
Chiefs $1.86 v Highlanders $1.95
Rebels $4 v Hurricanes $1.25
Blues $1.19 v Sharks $4.75
Brumbies $2 v Waratahs $1.81
Bulls $2.25 v Stormers $1.65
Lions $3 v Crusaders $1.40
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