Tue, Mar 20, 9:56am by Staff Writer
The Hurricanes ($3.30) have stormed into outright favouritism to win the 2018 Super Rugby crown after back-to-back losses by the Crusaders.
Canterbury ($4.50) has drifted from $3.60 favourites last week after consecutive losses against New Zealand opposition.
The Crusaders most recent loss was a controversial 25-17 loss to the Highlanders ($4.50) in Dunedin, where they had a late first-half try disallowed on a dubious call.
Regardless of that result, it is not yet panic stations for the Crusaders, who still have home games against both the Hurricanes and Highlanders to come.
The Hurricanes have a favourable fixture for the remainder of the season, as they have already travelled to South Africa and Argentina.
Last year’s Grand Finalist’s and South African conference champions the Lions ($9) have endured a difficult start to the new season.
After a last gasp loss to the Blues in round 4, the Lions were made to work until after the final whistle against the lowly Sunwolves ($2001), escaping with a 40-38 win as 34.5-point favourites.
Despite a 4-1 record, the Lions have a home game against the Crusaders, before four road games in Australia and New Zealand to contend with. This fixture list is far more daunting than the Lions experienced last season, where they did not face New Zealand opposition until the Grand Final.
The Chiefs ($9.50) clawed their way to a 41-28 win after trailing by 28-14 at half time against the Bulls ($67) on Friday night.
Despite being injury depleted, the Chiefs continue to apply themselves to every contest, something that is to be admired.
The Waratahs ($12) put aside an awful first half hour in stifling conditions in Sydney on Sunday to record a dominant 51-27 win over the previously undefeated Rebels.
Despite their strong start to the season, Melbourne ($26) wilted in the hot Sydney sun in their first real test of the new season.
On the back of that result, the Waratahs have shortened from $17 to $12 in the outright market and are $2.20 favourites to win the Australian conference.
The Rebels have moved from $14 to $26 in the outright market and are now $2.75 to win the Australian conference.
It was an outstanding result for the Reds ($67) in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning as they hung on to defeat the Jaguares 18-7.
Despite a number of questionable refereeing decisions against the Jaguares ($301), they were unable to back up their last start win against the Waratahs.
The Argentinians continue to be a disappointment in Super Rugby, and despite a raft of home games, have little to show for their efforts. Their outright odds have drifted from a massive $201 out to $301 this week.
The Brumbies got their 2018 season track with a win against the Sharks ($67) in Canberra on Saturday night.
Despite being reigning Australian conference champions, the Brumbies ($67) are long shots to win the Super Rugby title this season.
Their outright odds have lengthened each week of the season, moving from $51 last week at Sportsbet.
They are a whopping $10 to win the Australian conference after only five rounds.
The Blues ($19) were unable to defeat an injury depleted Stormers ($34) side returning from New Zealand in Cape Town, instead producing a limp performance.
The Stormers were out of the blocks with a try inside two minutes and the Blues never recovered as they went down 37-20.
The Aucklanders are the longest of all five New Zealand teams to win the Super Rugby title this season.
The Stormers are second favourites to take out the South African conference at $4, with their two clashes with the Lions pivotal to determining the conference champion.
Super Rugby Outright Winner – Sportsbet
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