Mon, Jun 4, 1:57pm by Staff Writer
As the Super Rugby season enters a month-long hiatus for the June international test window, the Crusaders are now the clear favourites to win the back-to-back titles after an impressive set of wins during the past fortnight.
A hard-fought win against the Hurricanes followed by an impressive showing against the Chiefs in Hamilton has the Crusaders as $1.90 favourites to win Super Rugby.
The Crusaders used a strong second half push to get the better of the Chiefs and remain in top spot in the New Zealand conference with a 34-20 win.
The Chiefs are $14 for the title, drifting in price after their defeat.
Their nearest competitors, the Hurricanes are $2.50 and have suffered consecutive road losses against the Crusaders and Hurricanes.
The Canes were outclassed by the Highlanders in the second half in Dunedin, with the hosts winning their past 12 games at the venue.
The 30-14 victory for the Highlanders moves them within five points of the Canes in second position in the New Zealand conference, but they are $15 outsiders for the title.
The Blues woes continued on Saturday afternoon with a 20-10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels in Auckland.
It was the Rebels first win in Auckland in their history and only their second win ever in New Zealand.
They are one point behind the Waratahs in the Australian conference and a $67 chance to win Super Rugby.
The Blues season continues to spiral out of control, as they sit second last in the overall standings.
The Reds and Waratahs played out an entertaining game in Brisbane on Saturday night, with the Tahs running out 52-41 winners in a high-scoring match.
That results leaves the Tahs atop the Australian conference by a slender one point and they are fourth favourites for the Super Rugby title at $14.
The Brumbies returned from South Africa and notched up back-to-back wins with a 41-31 win against the Sunwolves in Canberra.
The home side led 19-3 in the first half, before a Sunwolves side made up of predominately reserves players mounted better resistance in the second half, including scoring a try after the final hooter to narrow the margin.
Neither the Brumbies ($426) nor the Sunwolves ($2001) will factor into this season’s final series and are huge outsiders to win the competition.
All four of the South African teams and the Jaguares enjoyed the bye this week as the Springboks went down 22-20 to Wales at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. to kick start to the June test matches.
Super Rugby returns on Friday 29 June with the Blues hosting the Reds and an important clash in the Australian conference between the Rebels and the Waratahs.
In the meantime, New Zealand host a test series against France, the Wallabies will be taking on Ireland and South Africa are hosting England in just some of the June test matches yet to come.
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