Thu, Feb 2, 9:06am by Kevin Pitstock
The Waratahs will kick-off their campaign with a win over defending Champions and fierce rivals the Queensland Reds, the Brumbies will make light work of the Western Force and the Blues will down the Crusaders in the battle of the gun Kiwi sides in the opening round of the 2012 Super Rugby season says online bookmaker sportsbet.com.au
The ‘Tahs are $1.60 favourites to account for the Quade Copper-less Reds at ANZ Stadium with Queensland the $2.25 outsiders, the Brumbies have been installed at $1.50 at home to beat the Western Force ($2.50) while the Blues are $1.68 and the Crusaders $2.15 for their first round blockbuster at Eden Park.
In the remaining opening round matches, the Bulls are $1.75 favourites to beat the Sharks ($2.05), Sonny Bill Williams and the Chiefs are at $1.40 to account for the Highlanders ($2.25), the Stormers ($1.20) are tipped to flog the Hurricanes ($4.40) and the Lions are $1.48 against the Cheetahs ($2.60).
“On paper, the Waratahs have a very good side, are playing at home and with the Reds not having Quade Cooper for the first round clash, they start as favourite,” sportsbet.com.au’s Ben Hawes said.
“We’re very confident the Brumbies will comfortably take care of the travelling Western Force while the battle between the Blues and Crusaders is like a final in the first round!”
In Championship betting, seven-time winners the Crusaders, despite being outsiders for their first round clash, are the $4.00 title favourites. The Blues and Reds are on the second line of betting at $6.50 while the Waratahs are also in contention for silverware at $7.50.
The Melbourne Rebels are at $34 in their second season while it will be tough year for the Brumbies and Force, who make up the final two positions at $41 and $51 respectively.
“The Waratahs have recruited well and have a good draw and while expectation will again be high, they have the team that can really push for the title this season,” Hawes said. “The Reds still have enough firepower to score points without Cooper and if they’re in a good position when he returns they are serious contenders.”
“Unfortunately for the Rebels, Brumbies and Force, 2012 is looking rather gloomy already. Hopefully one of the Australian sides can stick it to the rest and win it again.”
The Reds are the $2.20 favourites to win the Australian conference, slightly ahead of the ‘Tahs at $2.30 with the Brumbies and Rebels at $11 and Force at $15.
The Crusaders are priced at $1.78 to take out the New Zealand conference, ahead of the Blues ($3.34), Chiefs ($7.80), Highlanders ($10.20) and Hurricanes ($21) while the South African conference looks to be a two horse race between the Stormers ($2.60) and the Sharks ($3.00) with the Bulls ($5.00), Cheetahs and Lions (both $9.00) considered outsiders.
Markets courtesy of sportsbet.com.au
Blues v Crusaders
Brumbies v Western Force
$2.50 Western Force
Bulls v Sharks
Chiefs v Highlanders
Waratahs v Reds
Stormers v Hurricanes
Lions v Cheetahs
$6.50 Blues, Reds
$34 Hurricanes, Rebels, Cheetahs, Lions
$51 Western Force
$11 Rebels, Brumbies
$15 Western Force
$9.00 Cheetahs, Lions
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