Super Rugby Final Betting

Super Rugby Final , Hamilton, Saturday 835 am GMT, 4th August

Super rugby final. Well, after an interesting weekend we approach a final that not many would have predicted. We came out on top at the weekend with a nice win on the Chiefs Handicap, and the 1-12 Chiefs winning margin (read more here). This despite the Stormers letting us down in the second super rugby semi-final, scuppering the 1-12 double that we also had riding from the Chiefs game.

The Chiefs come into this after a good win against the Crusaders, and one that earned us a nice profit. It may have been a jittery finish, but they deserved the victory, and the bookmakers make them 4 to 6 point favourites for the final at home against the Sharks. They play a Sharks side that overcame the odds to comfortably put away both the Stormers and Reds away from home.

The Sharks, as mentioned, have defied everyone’s super rugby expectations so far. They had a brilliant win against an albeit lacklustre Reds team, and then came out and demolished a Stormers side that hardly looked interested when they went behind. We’ve been questioning the abilities and prospects of the Stormers for most of the Super rugby league run in, and they disappointed their fans yet again here. In retrospect, we should have stuck to our guns and backed the misgivings we had been voicing about the Stormers for over a month now, but we didn’t. We looked at the home advantage, and we looked at the possible fatigue factor of the Sharks, and we let conventional noise-trader thinking get the better of us. There’s a lesson to be learned here- when a team is playing rubbish rugby, and barely scraping uber-defensive wins against teams they should be hammering (based on table position), the hunger probably isn’t there for a semi-final win against any team with momentum (i.e. the Sharks). Lesson learned.

So on to this Super rugby final weekend. As you probably read a few weeks back, we had a big bet on the Chiefs when the final six teams for the super rugby playoffs were decided. We saw the price available as far too big given the narrow Chiefs losses in the run-in, the Stormers’ deceptive form meaning a real chance of a Chiefs home final, and the one less game the Chiefs would have had to play. (You can read more about that Super Rugby preview here). Suffice to say, we’ve got a smug grin on our face and we’re really looking forward to the game this weekend. We’ve asked ourselves whether we should get involved further on the Chiefs, considering we’ve already got a bet on them on the outright. We’ve asked ourselves if conventional thinking is getting the better of us again in questioning the fatigue factor of the Sharks (a trip to Brisbane, and a trip to Cape Town 2 weeks running, followed now by a trip to Hamilton New Zealand). And we don’t think we’re being greedy when we say the -4 available with Sportingbet (-6 everywhere else), is worth a bet. It’s not just the possible fatigue factor though for the Sharks; the Chiefs are the better side, finished top of the table, and are at home with a team of proven world class, ability and motivation.

Super Rugby Pick 1

Chiefs -4 10/11 sportingbet (-6 elsewhere, and the -4 won’t last long at sportingbet). The Chiefs are at home and will score tries, unlike the Stormers. The Sharks quite simply have to be at the end of their energy reserves for this one. You’d expect a bright start, but after beating the knock-out kings the Crusaders at home in the Semi, you just can’t see the Chiefs letting this opportunity slip past them. I wouldn’t expect them to run away with it, but they should get out beyond 2 scores before the endgame.

Super Rugby final Pick 2

Chiefs 1-12 winning margin, (Biggest 13/8 in Ladbrokes). It’s a final, the one game of the year where each team will give their all no matter what. The chiefs won’t have the energy or need to be scoring multitudes of tries, and the gameplan will be to get ahead, and stay ahead. This is also a decent hedge just in case a very late consolation score for the Sharks costs us the -4 above.

Super Rugby final pick 3

If you’re looking for something a bit bigger this weekend with more risk, you could make a decent argument for the Halftime/fulltime markets both ways this weekend.

Sharks/Chiefs is best price 6/1 in paddypower and ladbrokes. The Sharks have started most of their games lately with a flourish, and just like their last two games, they’ll try to get ahead early and then weather the storm defensively in the second half. Once again, they’ll know that if the Chiefs get ahead at home, it’ll be a difficult task to come back and win.

On the flip side, (and another decent hedge to our main bets), you can get the Chiefs/Sharks ht/ft at 9/1 in paddypower and ladbrokes. 9/1 is quite big for this. Despite what i’ve said above, the Chiefs might get nervous, and fatigue may not matter if the Sharks are within a score in the run-in. If super rugby has taught us anything this year, it’s to expect the unexpected.

**Friday update** As predicted, the Sportingbet -4 disappeared midweek, but it’s still available in stanjames, where every one else is at -6. One or two have -5, and there’s even -7 about. We can’t see the -4 in stanjames lasting to kickoff.

Just to note, dropkickrugby.com have managed to get our users a 100 pound/euro free bet from Paddypower, where before it was only a free 50 if you signed up directly or through the links we provide here. You can get it by clicking on the free rugby bets table front page, or any of the links here. It’s an added bit of value for you anyway, if you haven’t signed up with them already. Good luck at the weekend!

Super Rugby Playoffs – Chiefs Crusaders Stormers Sharks

Chiefs v Crusaders Super Rugby Semi-final, 27 July, 835 am GMT

The Super Rugby historical stats are all stacking up against the Chiefs coming into this game-but history will count for nothing if they’ve won come full time on Saturday. The Crusaders have won eight of nine games against fellow New Zealand teams in the Super Rugby knock out rounds, and as mentioned in last week’s preview, in general they’re the best team in the competition overall when it comes to the playoffs. Both teams have one win each against each other this season, with the Chiefs being also beaten at home recently by the Hurricanes with a controversial decision by the TMO deciding matters. Had the Chiefs won that game, we reckon the Crusaders wouldn’t be as short as they are now as the table likely would have panned out quite differently. It’s on such fine margins that the bookies are basing their handicaps, and for those reasons, and others, we’re backing the Chiefs in this one.

Not only the fact that the aforementioned game was so close, the Chiefs have been excellent all season, and quite similar to Toulouse in the TOP14 this season, they eased off their intensity towards the tail end of the regular season and tried to thread water to just do enough to top the table. But for a dodgy TMO decision, they likely would have too. They’ve got class all over the park, and home advantage. In contrast, while the Crusaders have of course looked good recently, they fell apart in week 18 when Carter and McCaw were taken off for the second half; showing there’s not tremendous depth there. To add to that, the Bulls were woefully inept in almost every facet of their play last week. Based on that the Crusaders shouldn’t be given heaps of credit for the facile win. And let’s not forget they were outscored in the try-scoring stakes by 2 to 1 in that game by the awful, uncommitted Bulls.

We think they’ve been given a bit too much credit overall to be honest. Kieran Read was playing for the Crusaders when they beat the Chiefs a few weeks back, and that won’t be the case this time around as he misses out with injury. And while the Crusaders did own the lineout that day, the Chiefs were missing their lineout caller Clarke who returns for this game. Lastly, SB Williams Butchered a try scoring chance at the death in that lost game, which would have left the game a draw.

As you may have read here a few weeks ago, we’ve already backed the Chiefs to win the tournament outright at 7/2, which is where they still are. That the Crusaders price has come in, while the Chiefs price has stayed pretty much the same in most bookies, says to me that the bookies might be pulling a fast one here, by making the Crusaders such hot favourites away from home. If not a fast one- they’re definitely wary of pushing out the price of the Chiefs, and you can see why- home game in a semi, fantastic form all season, dodgy TMO decision possibly costing them top of the league , and a possible away final against a misfiring Stormers team, or a home final against the Sharks (should the Sharks beat the Stormers on Sunday) in store if they win this game! Chiefs for us this week.

Super Rugby Playoffs Pick 1;

Chiefs +4 in Paddypower and Ladbrokes at 10/11. This is our main bet in this game, the result should be tight either way, and the league leaders for much of the season should be able to stay within four points at least, if not win it

Super Rugby Playoffs Pick 2;

Chiefs 1-12 is 12/5 in Boylesports- it should be tight overall, and if the Chiefs win, they shouldn’t win by much more than six or seven. This punt great value on its own and we’ll be doubling this up with a pick in the game below as well.

Super rugby Playoffs Pick 3;

With Carter and Cruden well able to drop a goal, if you need an extra interest in this game you can get ‘anytime drop goal’ at evens with paddypower. We’ll be very surprised if we don’t see one from either side.

Stormers v Sharks, Super Rugby Semi-final, 28 July, 16:05 GMT

The Sharks come into this game after a brilliant win away at a presumptuous Reds side last week. They took their chances, and were clinical in attack. A big part of their performance was having four loose forwards on the field with Alberts at lock, and they’re doing the same this week. There’s only one change at 13 with Whitehead coming in, and similar to last week, the Sharks have the slight advantage overall in the pack, and particularly the front row.

But the key question here for the Sharks is how the travel will affect them physically and mentally. Like last week, their bench isn’t amazing, and they’ll find it hard going to come away from here with a win. The Stormers are well rested, and despite their boring style of play, they know how to win super rugby matches. Etzebeth returns for the Stormers which is a big plus, and if the Stormers can simply secure parity in the set-piece, they should come out on top here.
The Sharks will tire in this game at some point, they have to. They usually come out all guns blazing in games (week 18 being an exception), and you’d expect them to do that here. But with home advantage it’s difficult to oppose the Stormers nicking this one. We’re leaving the handicap alone though, based on the ability of the Sharks to score tries, and opting for something different.

Super Rugby Playoffs Pick 4;

Based on the fact the Sharks have publicly stated they know they need to start early, and the fact that they often do, we’ll back the half time/full time, Sharks/Stormers for a small interest. The Sharks will start fast, and a combination of fatigue and the Stormers getting a half of rugby under their belts, should see them come through to win in the second half with the better fatigue profile and home advantage. Best price 6/1 in paddypower and stanjames.

Super Rugby Playoff Pick 5;

Stormers win by 1-12 points. They shouldn’t run away with this, given their try-scoring non-record, like the Chiefs game, this one should be tight. Best price of 7/4 in Stanjames.

**We’re also backing the home teams 1-12 double this weekend, the best combination is Chiefs 1-12 9/4 in Ladbrokes and bet365, and Stormers 1-12 13/8 in Ladbrokes and bet365. (Works out at best price 15/2 in either of them)

***If you’ve spotted any decent try scoring shouts, give us a tweet on twitter. One bookmaker is giving money back on all losing 1st/last/anytime try scorer bets if a number 15 scores a try at anytime in the game. So that’s Pietersen, Ludik, Robinson, and Israel Dagg. Not a bad offer at paddypower.

Super Rugby Playoffs Betting Preview

Super Rugby Playoffs 1, Crusaders v Bulls, Sat 21/7 8:35 am GMT

Super Rugby Playoffs – Both these teams come into this game with two decent wins last week cementing their place in the playoffs, albeit against weak teams. The Crusaders were no doubt more impressive, and straight off the bat we knew we’d be backing them to win this game; the only question was which markets.

As mentioned in last week’s dissection of pre-super rugby playoffs coaching ineptitude, the Crusaders won their game in the first half, took Carter and McCaw off for the second half, and were a mess thereafter; losing the second half completely. To us, that simply looked like they were holding their fire for this game. McCaw and Carter won’t be coming off at half time this week. Also in said piece, was our critique of the Bulls completely blowing their chances of an easier game against the Reds.

Of the two coaching set-ups, who did better, the Crusaders, who took it easy in the second half – or- the Bulls, who left it to the second half to score a try bonus point win? Yes, ding ding ding, the Crusaders. Not to bang last week’s drum, but this was an epic screw up by the Bulls. Had they played their cards right (and they were easy cards), they could be looking at a far easier QF versus the Reds, and a home semi v the Stormers (which on current Stormer-form would have been eminently winnable). This predicament against the superior Crusaders is all the more meaningful when you take into consideration the fact that the South African teams have a woeful record away in the super rugby playoffs (7 away losses for SA teams in seven attempts). It’s hard to find any reason to back them this week.

Well, there are one or two small reasons- their two games on tour in New Zealand this season were losses by less than seven points. And they beat the Crusaders at home 32-30 in April. If they can stay competitive, and keep it tight until half time, they could upset the odds as its possible the Crusaders might get nervous if things aren’t going to plan. But that’s unlikely.

The Crusaders are simply the super rugby playoffs team, winning every one of their playoff semi-finals at home in recent years, and normally by more than 13 points. After easing off last week, and saving their superstars, and another one in Kieran Read returning, the only question for us was by how many the Crusaders would win.

It’s tempting to take the -10 handicap with history and South African away form to take into account, but we’re going to take the lead from last week’s Crusader game, and expect the Crusaders to win, but conserve energy and not win by a lot. The way they eased off last week, it will likely happen again this week if they are ahead by a few scores, and this may put the handicap in serious jeopardy. And if they are behind, they have the pedigree and home advantage to come back and win.

So we’re taking the Crusaders 1-12 point margin at best price 7/4 in Ladbrokes or paddypower as our main bet for this game.
If you think they’ll beat the handicap (-10 to -12), you might be better off playing the 11-20 winning margin at biggest 11/4 in paddypower (15/8 elsewhere). It’s far better value, and they’re unlikely to capitulate (the Bulls) by more than 20. You’re covered for the -11 and -12 handicap draw too.

Super Rugby Playoffs 2, Reds v Sharks, Saturday 21/7, 10:40 am GMT.

On to the Reds v Sharks and as you can see up top there’s a bit of a middle available, with the Sharks available at +5, and the Reds around for -3. That handicap has come in a bit overall throughout the week, where you could get the Sharks for +7 and even +8 in places. This would obviously suggest that the Sharks are getting a bit more respect at the bookies than they initially had. Many would ascribe this odds jump to the announcement early in the week that Cooper wouldn’t be playing on Saturday, after his 5 hour long disciplinary hearing gave him the thumbs down for his tackle on Barnes; harsh in our opinion, but that’s the way the chips have fallen for the Reds.

It’s an overreaction from the bookies and from punters alike in our opinion. We do believe that the handicap was maybe too big anyway, but more on that next paragraph. Regarding Cooper – the Reds have got to this playoff without Cooper for the most part, and while he is an excellent player and has played a part in the recent bonus point wins; he’s not the be-all and end-all for the Reds. Lucas and Harris can handle things at ten, and have done for the best part of the season – it was Lucas who played at ten when they beat the Chiefs well early in the year. Harris’s kicking doesn’t fill me with the greatest confidence though, and the Reds looked far from champions playing the Waratahs.

As mentioned, we believe the handicap should have come in for the Sharks. There has been huge hype about Steyn missing, but he has played very little for he Sharks, and the significance is well overdone at this point. Lambie is missing, but Michalak would have probably started anyway at ten, and Ludik is a good full back. JP Pietersen is in some of the best form of his career- turning the game around for the Sharks last week (a game that they approached all wrong, and got slightly lucky in).

And let’s look at the pack. Mtawarira is back. The Beast is joined by Willem Alberts at lock ( who got us our money back special in paddypower on losing tryscorer bets, as first try scorer versus England a few weeks ago!). Alberts played some of his early career at lock, so is well capable. The Sharks will have four marauding ball playing back rows playing in the good weather, filling out what is one of the best packs in the super fifteen. The Sharks have been in excellent form of late, and while they do blow hot and cold, they look primed coming into this game. If they can keep Michalak on the field as long as possible (there’s not much back-up at ten), they have a good chance of upsetting the historical tendency of away teams to crash and burn in the super rugby playoffs. There is a worry about the Sharks bench though, they have very little quality cover should things go awry, and they lose a few players.

As mentioned earlier, the super rugby playoff record of away teams is truly shocking, and while it is VERY tempting to go against the grain here and back the Sharks to win by 1-12 points at a very big 11/4 in bet365….we have to take into account the away journey, and the statistics over the years strongly favouring the home side in super rugby playoffs (Over 90% of times the home team has won since 2000 in the playoffs- all of them semis). The Reds were lucky to get to this playoff position after the Brumbie coaching brainfart, they’ve had a middling enough season, but the whole Cooper thing won’t affect their focus, and they’re champions now, which counts for a lot in knockout rugby.

The fact that there are still two more games to go after this one mean the Reds won’t be running away with this game, and the even if they get ahead by a couple of scores, if there’s very little time to go they won’t be bothered to keep out a late consolation to a competitive Sharks side. We saw with the Crusaders last week that energy conservation is very much to the fore right now, and we expect both the Reds and Crusaders to adopt the same approach again this week.

There’s two bets for us – Reds 1-12 win is best price 7/4 in Ladbrokes (13/8 elsewhere)**this has now come in to 13/8 in ladbrokes, and is only available in stanjames at 7/4**.
As mentioned, the Sharks will be competitive, and the Reds won’t be looking to run away with this (or likely to run away with it, especially with Cooper out). This is far better than the tricky handicap, which could be smashed by a late consolation score quite easily.

Also, the halftime/fulltime Sharks/Reds at best price 13/2 in boylesports. The Sharks should come out strongly with four back rows on the field, but their lack of a bench and the Reds being at home makes this bet a bit of excellent value.

Free 50/1 double! …In a bit of sideways thinking, we’ve identified a possible decent shout at a big payout.

Both South African teams will have to come out strongly to have any chance here, they both know it will be difficult to reel back in the home side if they get away from them. To add to that, there’s two south african refs this weekend, so they should get at least a fair rub. We’ve had a small bet on the Bulls ht/ Crusaders FT, and Sharks ht/ Reds FT, which comes in at around 50/1. (7/1 and 6/1 respectively). These prices also happen to be at skybet, where you can get a free bet with no deposit for a tenner. You can’t go wrong with something for nothing, and maybe a bit more besides.

Best of luck whichever way you go!

Super Rugby Finals – Six of the best?

Super Rugby finals run in

Well, what a weekend of super rugby nonsense; teams getting bonus points when they shouldn’t have; teams starting slowly (blatantly on purpose) and then trying to speed up when it should have been the other way around; teams easing off and almost losing vital games; teams playing for losing bonus points when they could have won!….

Of the seven Super Rugby games on today, only one team beat the general minus handicap across all bookies, and that was the Reds. They were lucky in the end to even do just that, with the Waratahs just coming up short of a consolation score at the death. The Brumbies were an absolute disaster this morning, and the less said about them the better. Quite how you can go through an entire season of putting your body on the line, and then capitulate so miserably when the righteous reckoning comes is beyond us. There were several examples of inept coaching today and this was one of them. The Brumbies looked like they were playing for a losing bonus point from the start of the game! Sure the losing bonus point would have got them through to the playoffs, but it was like they said to themselves “there’s NO WAY we can lose by more than seven at home lads”. They lost to a team that had nothing to play for but pride, they didn’t front up, and they let their fans down in a major way. They also would have ruined a lovely accumulator had the Chiefs not been robbed at the death the morning before (nothing we can do about that TMO shit really)…

Anyway, there was a lot to be learned from this final super rugby league weekend, moving into the final five games of the season. The info should be examined, dissected, and viciously perpetrated on the bookies over the next few weeks with maximum impact! We have six teams left, ranked in this order;

1. Stormers (woeful)
2. Chiefs (robbed)
3. Reds (Quade)
4. Crusaders (Dark Horse)
5. Bulls (Dumber)
6. Sharks (Dumb)

So after the Brumbies got super rugby stage-fright and failed to perform while the Blues were on the field, the Reds took advantage of their prostrate performance and sealed their place as third conference winner, getting a home draw in the Quarter final against the Sharks who finished rank six. Lucky Sharks. Lucky indeed. The Reds were quite lucky in a lot of this match, and were gifted a few tries. They kicked one try out of the hands of an almost certain Alcock try for the Waratahs, and our first reactions were that it should have been a penalty try (might be wrong there). They were extremely slow in the rucks in the first half, gallingly so. They were trying silly chip kicks in their own 22 with 20 minutes gone in the game – real stupid, desperation stuff. Who’s in charge in that team? Who’s leading it? They’ll have a tough time winning this tournament. Genia sped it up after half time for a while & Cooper played a big part with some lovely touches, but the team didn’t impress overall. We wouldn’t back them with Hungarian luncheon vouchers at any point in the run-in, against anyone. The Reds play at home against the Sharks in Quarter final one. More on them below.

The Crusaders are at home to the Bulls in the first super rugby semi final next Saturday, and while that will be a tough game, they looked good today in the first half, picking up a bonus point before half time against Western Force. But we learned something here we already knew- No Carter, No McCaw, no tournament win. The bench came on in the second half and were outplayed. Zac Guildford managed to butcher a fair few chances, and handed the Force at least one try. The Crusaders are biggest 11/4 in ladbrokes for the super rugby title, but that seems a bit short with away games in the semi and probably the final. You could argue that they did what they needed against the Force though, and Kieran Read was missing here too and should be back for the Bulls game. The Handicap is up as best price Bulls +10 at evens in bet365. The Bulls had a decent win against the Lions, and have a decent enough chance of winning this game. More on them below.

The Chiefs played their game on Friday and despite dominating the game for large parts, came away with a loss in the 84th minute to a dodgy TMO decision. It was bad luck, and that’s sport. It was however some slight redress for the rubbish yellow card given against the Hurricanes for the tackle on SBWiliams earlier in the game. The Chiefs look good to us for the Run in- they’ll be playing either the Crusaders or Bulls at home, and put it this way- had they finished top of the league, they would be favourites due to the fact that the final is in the number 1 ranked team’s home ground. While that may seem like an obvious thing to say, it’s worth remembering. The Chiefs have won six out of eight away games this season, and will be well able for a stuttering Stormers side away from home if they make the final, and are best price 10/3 at Bet365.

Compare that to the Crusaders 11/4 in Ladbrokes, who have to play in the Quarter Finals (the Chiefs don’t), and away at the Chiefs in the Semi if they make it through. We’ve compared it, and it doesn’t add up to us. Yes, the Crusaders just recently beat the Chiefs in their own backyard, but the Chiefs beat them away early in the season too. With the weakness of the Crusaders without Carter and McCaw, we make them favourites of the two, not the other way around. Value on the Chiefs already. Don’t forget the Chiefs have a rest week.

The Stormers, for me, have been awfully boring the past two weeks. They are favourites with the bookies, because they have two home games, and their semi will be against one of arguably the two weakest teams left- the Reds and the Sharks. But they stank up the place away to Cheetah’s two game weeks ago, and could have only drawn that game had a bounce of the ball gone against them. This week against the Rebels they almost lost in the end game. They were defending for more than half of the game, when it would have been easier to attack. The Stormers simply have not convinced, and they don’t look any value to us. If they had been playing a better team the past two weeks, they probably would have lost at least one of them. Not much value in the 2/1 available in Ladbrokes to us on the Stormers, unless you value home advantage in the super rugby semi and final above everything else. In that case, the Stormers don’t look too bad at 2/1.

Super rugby coaching ineptitude.

The Sharks came out against the Cheetahs and played like they wanted to not get a bonus point. This was of course the right way to approach things overall, as the Sharks getting a bonus point would have meant they would likely be playing a Quarter and Semi Final in New Zealand. Not only that; getting no bonus point, and winning by just 5 points ore more, would have guaranteed the Sharks would meet the Stormers in the Semi-final at home in South Africa, once they won their Quarter final at the Reds. So they controlled their own destiny before the game- Reds, then Stormers, (if they got no bonus point) or the poorer option, Crusaders then Chiefs (if they got a bonus point try win).
Amazingly, instead of going for a lead early and playing with intensity from the start-and then controlling things and not going after the fourth try- they played like they wanted to keep it close, and then pull away in the final stages. Dumb stuff. They knew they had to win by 5 or more to overtake the Brumbies, but they were trailing by nine at the break due to silly coaching and lethargic non-committal play. They got some amazingly lucky breaks in the second half from the Cheetahs, who almost went further ahead, knocking on at crucial times, and who amazingly took off the scourge of the Sharks- Heinrich Brussow, after half time.

Brussow had been running the game, playing super rugby and being a major thorn in the Sharks’ side (surely he’ll make the rugby championship squad where he was left out of the England series?). You really have to question the motivation for taking him off by the Cheetahs (he didn’t look injured to us). They had the game by the balls and they took off their best player. Bizarre, to say the least. Yes he had been down injured at 21 minutes, but he got up to play on brilliantly. And yes, there could be an agreement to save him for the rugby championship. But it clearly opened the door for the Sharks to come back into it. Did someone make a phone call to get Brussow off the field pronto?

Moving on, it was clear that no one learned from the Brumbies’ disaster session early that morning where they tryed to do what was needed, without the tactical plan to execture that goal. As it turned out in the Brussow-less second half, the Sharks got three tries in the bag, and went and scored a fourth with 6 minutes to go instead of just kicking the corners like they had been doing for the preceeding ten minutes. No leadership and poor coaching almost jeopardised the sweeter path to the final, and indeed sbould have. But the Bulls amazingly stepped in with some even stupider play and coaching, to give the Sharks the sweeter draw.

The Bulls found themselves in the last game of the day, knowing they simply had to win the game by any number of points, not get a bonus point try win, and they were guaranteed the aforementioned sweeter path to the final. But then coaching ineptitude struck again. The Bulls, despite leading the game well, went after the four tries and got them! This was the final nail in the coffin of our logic experiment for the weekend. The Bulls knew exactly what they had to do, and yet the coach couldn’t simply say to his charges “build a lead lads, kick your penalties, keep the pressure on, and don’t get a fourth try- unless you want two trips to the Crusaders and the Chiefs”. Now, maybe they’re just super-confident. But they screwed up there. As it turned out they gifted the Sharks an easier quarter final at the Reds, and a possible semi in South Africa. Are we looking at a Brussow/Sharks/Bulls love triangle? Or are we looking at a whole pile of idiocy? Probably the latter. It was as if the Bulls coaching staff couldn’t perform simple arithmetic.

In conclusion

There’s probably a bit of value in the Sharks best price 16/1 in Ladbrokes, having the handier finals path despite lucking into it. They have some game-changing players, and they can beat this Reds side away (the Reds are only 4 point favourites right now for that game in bet365). That would set them up for a South African derby against the stuttering Stormers, and anything can happen there. You could probably lay off your stake then if they got to the final (where’s they’d be no bigger than 3/1).

For us though, there’s a bit more value in the Chiefs at best price 3/1 in bet365 and boylesports. They’re third favourites with the bookies, when we make them joint overall favourites. Would they be 3/1 had they not lost that game away at the Hurricanes to an injury time TMO brainfart? No, they wouldn’t. Yes, they’ll have to play a final away from home if the Stormers win their semi-final, but the Stormers haven’t done anything to suggest that they have any ability to change tack if the wind isn’t blowing their way. The Chiefs have a week off, and a home game for th semi into the final a week later. If they win their home semi-final, you’ll get no bigger than a 6/4 on them for the super rugby championship title. They’re our best outright bet for the super rugby title.

Super Rugby Betting Preview -Wk 18

** Chiefs kill the accumulator early unfortunately, conceding an injury time try in the 84th minute (that probably wasn’t a try, but that’s TMO’s for you). Still going for Reds and Brumbies straight win acca, and singles and accumulator on reds,brumbies, and crusaders to beat the handicap in paddy power- Crusaders lowest -25 there**

This weekend (18) sees the end of the regular season games in Super rugby, and there’s quite a few variables making a conventional betting approach an absolute nightmare. We’ve decided on a bit of an accumulator experiment this weekend based on motivation, game time knowledge (all games are on in sequence, not simultaneously) as well as form. Some teams may not want a bonus point, depending on how other games go, and where they want to play their quarter final, so handicaps look generally best to steer clear of this week (though not every game).

We won’t be backing any games with tiny odds either, so we’ll leave them alone. We’ll try to keep it as simple as we can, while not leaving too much detail out.
Super Rugby Table Week 18
There are 8 teams in the final week in for places in the super rugby playoffs. The Chiefs and Stormers are guaranteed to be in the mix, and are occupying first and second spot in the table respectively. But the Chiefs don’t have an easy game at the Hurricanes to cement top spot so they’ll have to fight hard to maintain the top spot. In fact, all of the possible outcomes are quite complicated, so let’s take it game by game from the top, only concentrating on the meaningful games as the others are a minefield.

Chiefs v Hurricanes Super Rugby Preview.

1st 63pts v 8th 53 pts 835am Friday the 13th!
The top two super rugby conference teams out of Aus/ SA/ NZ after this week’s games get a week off next week. The Chiefs will want to keep top spot in the table as they will then play the weakest league-ranked qualifier from the two Quarter Final games (from 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th (similar to ‘les barrages’ in the TOP 14). They play away to the Victor-Vito-bolstered Hurricanes who are in 8th position on 53 points. Of the teams in the Top six, the Hurricanes can only realistically overhaul the Crusaders, Bulls and Sharks, as you’d realistically expect the Brumbies (In third) to pick up at least a bonus point at home making the gap six, so even if the Hurricanes got a 5 point win it wouldn’t be enough.

The problem for the Hurricanes is that the aforementioned trio (Crusaders, Bulls, Sharks) have very winnable games at home, and of course, they’re up against the super rugby league leaders the Chiefs. For us, there’s just too much on the line for the Chiefs if they lose, and there’s just too little chance of the Hurricanes progressing for them to have similar motivation. Ultimately, the final of the tournament is going to be played at the home ground of the top ranked winner of the semi finals. So assuming the Chiefs win, and get next week off, they have two home games including the final if they win their semi. If that aint motivation, I don’t know what is. You can get the Chiefs -2 in skybet, but we’re sticking the Chiefs down to win on the accumulator. See bottom of post for best combination bookmaker accumulator.

Brumbies v Blues Super Rugby Preview

3rd place 58pts, v 13th place 28pts 630 am GMT Sat 14th July
The brumbies are top of the Australian conference, and if they remain there as third conference winner, they play the sixth place qualifier in the Quarters. You could look at this game as a potential banana skin based on motivation, but the simple fact is they are the second game in the sequence this weekend, so they won’t know whether the Reds will have won or lost obviously.The Reds can only take them off the top of the conference if they lose this game at home to the lowly Blues by more than 7 points, thus not picking up a bonus point, as they are five points ahead of the Reds, and they are currently tied on 10 wins each (number of wins decides any ties on points). If the Reds win with a bonus, and the Brumbies lose by more than 7, then the Reds can theoretically get the top of the Australian conference. Can’t see it happening though.

The handicap is -7 points across the board for the Brumbies, but you maybe shouldn’t touch it because the Blues will be playing with nothing to lose, and the Brumbies only need a losing bonus point to make the playoffs. If the Brumbies were playing a half decent team here, you’d be a bit worried but because it’s the blues, and because the Brumbies have a chance to claim second Super Rugby conference leader above the Stormers ( however unlikely, but the Brumbies play first, so you can only play what is in front of you) we’ll be jamming the brumbies straight win into our accumulator at the bottom. If you think they’ll ignore the fact that the Stormers will likely win at home, then the -7 in Bet365 is probably a steal, because they need a bonus point to overhaul the Stormers and get a home semi final. Unlikely, but remember, they play first, before the Stormers, so they have to play their part and go for it.

Crusaders v Western Force Super Rugby Preview

835 am Saturday , July 14th, 4th 56 pts, v 14th 27 pts.
We won’t be touching this in our accumulator, as the handicap is quite high around 25/26, and the bonus point won’t really do much for the Crusaders, seeing as the straight win keeps them above the Bulls and Sharks in 5th and 6th, and they can’t overhaul the Chiefs for the top of the NZ conference. Still, we wouldn’t put anyone off backing them on the handicap -25 in paddypower (the Crusaders), weather permitting. Western Force lost last week to the 13th place Blues by 20 points. Again though, the Crusaders could take their foot off the gas to conserve energy for the Quarters, and do not need a bonus point for anything unless they are targetting specific Quarter final scenarios, that still might change after their game. Probably best to steer clear if we’re all looking at motivation this weekend.

Reds v Waratahs, Super Rugby Preview.

7th v 11th, 1040 am gmt 14 July, Sat. 7th 53pts v 11th 35 pts.
This game could be the one we slip up on, but the Reds have been in decent form, doing the necessary conservative tight win last week, and pulling a 5 point bonus point win in three of their last five Super Rugby games. They could have gone after more last week, and made their task this week more realistic, but here we are. By the time this game kicks off, the Brumbies will likely have at least a losing bonus point ( likely the win) and the Crusaders will be far from reach after winning at home, so by this point the Sharks will realistically only be able to catch the Sharks and Bulls, who have easy enough games after them. The best handicap around is -8 at bet365, but we’re sticking the Reds win in an accumulator. The Reds have to win, to at least stand a chance of qualification should the Sharks or Bulls slip up after them with a loss. The one thing in the Reds favour is that if they get a bonus point win, and either the Sharks or the Bulls only get a four point win, they’ll go through to the playoffs having more wins than those two. The Handicap looks great (still -8 available at bet365) but the Waratahs won’t make it easy for them . Still, we might have a small interest on it.

Stormers v Rebels markets/motivation need to be watched after the Hurricanes Chiefs game
Sharks v Cheetahs needs to be watched to see who they want to dodge and what the Reds do
Bulls v Lions is the same, so a watching brief on all of these.

Tune in to the site all day on Saturday, we’ll be updating super rugby developments on twitter (follow us there if you like and you have a twitter account) and we’ll sling up a post if any value on motivation and need presents itself (to our no doubt bleary eyes at that stage) based on the day’s early results. We do still like the handicaps mentioned above, and will have a small wager on them, and a decent sized one on this accumulator.

And now (drum roll please Doris,….)

The experimental super rugby accumulator (not tested on animals)….

Chiefs 4/6, Brumbies 4/11, Reds 1/4 in skybet is best price 1.84/1 ( so 1 Pound gets you 2 pound 78 back)
Or, if you fancy a bigger stake and want to make use of the bigger Free bet, you get SLIGHTLY less at Bet365

Chiefs, 4/7 Brumbies, 4/11, Reds 3/10 in Bet365 gets you 1.78/1 , or 28 quid for a tenner.

**If you fancy a Handicap punt, the two teams we think have the most dependable motivation, (and the fact that try bonus points make a real difference to them before other teams play) this weekend are the Reds and the Brumbies, both -7 at Betfred. The Reds are -9 and bigger everywhere else)**

**If you fancy a Handicap punt, the two teams we think with the most dependable motivation, (and the fact that try bonus points make a real difference to them) this weekend are the Reds and the Brumbies, both -7 at Betfred. The Reds are -9 and bigger everywhere else)**

Those are the two best priced accumulators available across the market for those three teams; it’s not worth adding in any of the small odds home favourites. We’ll keep an eye on the odds and update the top of this post if anything better comes available, but the likelihood is they’ll probably come in a bit if they move.

Should be good fun Saturday anyway, don’t forget to stop in or give us a shout on twitter.

Rugby Championship 2012 Betting Preview- New Zealand & South Africa

**Betting update- South Africa now out to 9/2 before this game for the tournament outright with Ladbrokes after New Zealand win, 10/3 elsewhere**

***Rugby Championship betting update for New Zealand and South Africa – Betting lines have come in for New Zealand, with the biggest betting outright now available as 4/7 at sky bet and betfred (the bigger Youwin price mentioned Wednesday has been gobbled up and is now in to 1/2!). This is definitely one for the heavy hitters of rugby betting. With New Zealand being the form team, you can see why the price came in, but we’re taking more of South Africa who have drifted out to 4/1 with Ladbrokes,( with the price drifting due to their need to balance the heavy money they’ve probably taken on New Zealand).

All of our reasons for backing South Africa still stand below, with the form of the Sharks proving extra motivation; how can South Africa NOT emulate their style of play in the Super rugby playoffs? And even if they don’t, South Africa will still have some of the most in form Super rugby players re-invigorating the side. In the Super 15 run-in, even Steyn’s kicking and running game improved from the June tests, and the South African fixtures still look golden. The 4/1 at Ladbrokes is massive value in our eyes.*** Wednesday, Aug 15

New Zealand- Pre-rugby championship betting- current world rank- 1

Since the inception of the Rugby Championship (tri-nations) in 1996, New Zealand have won the competition ten times, with their most recent win in 2010. Last year they lost away to Australia and South Africa, and this cost them the championship. Some said they had their eye on the world cup a few months later, but Australia were good value for the win. This year they are the current world cup champions and come into this game after a three game whitewash of Ireland. They look unstoppable but there are different factors that need exploring before we all jump on the bandwagon. We’ve said it before here on dropkickrugby, and we’ll say it again- they are perhaps fortunate World Champions after the worst refereeing performance in recent memory by Craig Joubert in the World Cup final, when he ignored countless penalties that the French should have been awarded. And while the series rout of Ireland was comprehensive, there will always be the question of ‘what-if?’ over Nigel Owens’ failure in the second test to award the dominant Irish scrum a penalty in the kiwi 22 with five minutes to go.

Ireland showed up to the first test but were hammered 42-10. New Zealand unearthed a new and terrifying weapon of mass destruction in Savea, who ran in a hat-trick on his international debut. There wasn’t much international intelligence available on the debutant for the Irish war room, and he simply blew the Irish away with some fantastic attack finishing. (In case you’re wondering, Yes, I intend to squeeze the life out of the WMD metaphor).Ireland were comprehensively bossed all over the field, and once the first try went in, you could see Irish heads drop and it was damage limitation time. They were on the end of a long season, and this was the last thing they needed. Any forecasted rustiness from New Zealand before the rugby championship quickly flaked away and it was business as usual for the All Blacks.

Then came the second test, and things changed. It rained, and Ireland were determined not to be humiliated again. Ireland got the first score, and but for some silly penalties, should have gone into the break more than one point up. The second half came and suddenly no one in New Zealand was laughing. Ireland won the collisions, they played excellent territory, and they drove their man back time and again. This was the last hurrah of a brave green platoon at the end of almost a year long campaign. The fact is they should have at least got the draw if not won the game. They silenced New Zealand, the WMD Savea was nowhere to be found, even Carter was missing kicks. Form-wise, New Zealand showed that they are certainly not invincible. However that last minute drop-goal that won it was worth 40 points psychologically for the following week.

Ireland 60- New Zealand 0. The points conceded stat (gotcha..) from the third and final test was a stark one, Ireland were simply humiliated. As mentioned, the agonising loss from the previous week was too much for Ireland to take, and after a seriously long season, they were a spent lot. Still, it takes a serious team to put 60 unanswered points on a good and talented Irish side, and that’s what New Zealand did. Looking at the score, you’d think there was a limited amount to learn from this result, but we wouldn’t say that was the case. New Zealand showed they have viable backup for the rugby championship in Cruden and the likes of Same Cane. They’re also the most physically fit out of the big three teams it seems, and are in fantastic form coming into this rugby championship.

Key Points

  1. Ireland are not a bad side, despite the recent results. They had the beating of Wales in the Six nations, and drew away to France with a lot of injuries. They have the bulk of the Heineken cup final teams in their team, and that is no easy competition to win. The point here is that New Zealand didn’t steamroller a bunch of no-hopers. They steamrollered a team full of Cup winning players, some at the top of their form, that know how to win, and how to close out games. Sure they were at the end of a large enough injury list, but that takes nothing away from the clinical two hammerings, and the plucky win snatched at the death of the second test.
  2. Cruden certainly seems to be able to back Carter up should he get injured, and he likely will for one or two games. Currently at time of writing he is carrying a hamstring injury, and with more games to go in the super-rugby season, he will likely be used sparingly. There is backup available then in Cruden and Beauden-Barritt for the rugby championship, which is an important consideration for any outright punt.
  3. Had Ireland not come so close to winning in the second test, New Zealand would have been the worse for it at the end of this series. That extreme proximity to defeat will have reminded the Kiwis that nothing can be taken for granted, and that can only be a good thing if you’re backing them for the rugby championship.

Early Picks

New Zealand undoubtedly come into the rugby championship off the back of the best form of all the four teams participating. You have to go back to last year’s rugby championship for their last two defeats, which were two on the bounce away to South Africa on the 21st August and then Australia a week later. This year, their last two games are away to Argentina and finally South Africa. They should have learned from last year. As in the case of the other teams, there are only outright tournament bets available on the rugby championship at the time of writing, and the biggest price available is 4/6 in Skybet.

We’re normally a value seeker when it comes to rugby betting, but it’s hard to argue with this price. They come into the tournament with the best form, and are the current World Champions. We wouldn’t put anyone off backing the All Blacks to win the rugby Championship, and if they beat Australia in their first game at home (and they should), this price will come in and shorten a bit. If they have a fully fit squad after the Super XV, the price will probably come in. They are simply the best team around these days on paper in the lead up to this tournament, and the bookies probably have this one about right. But it’s most definitely one for the medium to heavy hitters at that price for a good sized return at 4/6. We wouldn’t put anyone off a bet on them with the form they’re in.

If you’re looking at a medium to large sized bet for the tournament, go to skybet for the best price available at 4/6

South Africa – Pre-rugby championship- current world rank – 3

The Springboks come into the rugby championship after something of a mixed year, but they’re our outstanding early value punt for the rugby championship title. Mr Tarrant above has just snatched that All Black 4/6 cheque out of our hands, because he doesn’t want to give us that, he wants to give us a little bit more (we think!)…

South Africa should have beaten Australia in the Quarter final of the rugby world cup, but it just didn’t happen for them as Pocock almost single handedly turned them over. You’d imagine they still rue that game to this day as one that got away. They looked to be doing just enough and ticking along nicely, as they were in 2007, when the Aussie disaster struck. Moving to the summer, and they came out of the traps all guns blazing, and went out on a damp squib. Consistency is proving to be a bit of an issue for South African rugby the past few years, and they haven’t won the tri-nations since 2009, the year they beat New Zealand away.

South Africa won the first two June tests against England in comfortable enough fashion, despite England putting up a spirited fight. England finished the Six Nations on a high against an Irish team they have hardly beaten over the past ten years, so came into the series with lots of form, and new and exciting players. The first test final score margin of five points to South Africa was a bit misleading after South Africa dominated England after the break, but credit to England for holding back the tide and finishing with a last minute try. South Africa had 80 minutes of world class excellence this series, but it spanned two games; the second half of the first game, and the first half of the second game! They were simply awesome and I doubt any team could have lived with them, including New Zealand. The second test intensity couldn’t last however, and we were quite disappointed as we had a small nibble of the -26 at 6/1 that was on offer. After the break, the game was effectively won, and South Africa took their foot off the gas and England made their way back into the game. It made sense however, as there was one more test to play.

The third test was, as mentioned above, a damp squib. With the series won, and the likes of the excellent Alberts and Steyn missing, South Africa never hit fever pitch in the rain and wind. The 14-14 draw which resulted was due to missed kicks, and a frustrating lack of decision making at the death when they had about four opportunities for a drop goal that they ignored. The drops in intensity from South Africa can be attributed to a couple of factors. England are a good side, and were a whisker away from winning the Six Nations themselves. Practicality also had to reign at some point; with the rugby championship around the corner, and the business end of the Super XV season upon them, it would have made little conservative sense for the Springboks to go chasing huge winning margins. They got the wins, they kept ticking over, and they look primed. With a series victory under their belt against a good English side, South Africa look like a real value dark horse bet coming into this rugby championship. They have the power, they have the scrum, they have the lineout, and they have the players. Very importantly too, they have the fixtures.

Key Points

  1. There is a worry about Morne Steyn at ten, having kicked a paltry 50% of his kicks over the entire series (12 from 24). It’s a stat that is being bandied about a lot, but isn’t something to be overly concerned about. Sure it cost us losing handicap bets in possibly all three tests, but we won’t hold it against you Morne! Just get it sorted! He has attacked the line far better this season, and he has proved his abilities in the past and should be able to regain that form. He’s the best option for now anyway, so as long as he gets his form back in the league, there should be no problems
  2. The injury profile of South Africa is such that, the likelihood is there’ll be a few significant returnees. The likes of Bekker, Lambie, and Vermeulen should all come back into the mix for the rugby championship. At the time of writing, Schalk Burger has been put back from making a return to Super rugby, and the fewer games he plays for the next few weeks – the better for us. So, despite winning the series against England, there is healthy competition for places, and Brussow will also be staking a claim after being (surprisingly) left out of the June series. From another angle though, perhaps Heyneke Meyer knows what he gets with Brussow, and didn’t need to see him anymore here in June. We would be quite surprised though if he doesn’t make the rugby championship squad at least, if not the team
  3. Despite the Kiwi Whitewash of Ireland, the intensity South Africa showed in the aforementioned 80 minutes was unparalleled in the entire June series in our opinion, and we seen every game (the only game we missed was Fji and Tonga bashing each other around the place after one beer too many early one Saturday morning). If South Africa can keep this intensity up for the majority of their games, they have an excellent chance of winning this rugby championship
  4. Rugby Championship 2012 Fixtures are firmly on the side of South Africa and they have a very real advantage in the way the fixtures fall. Their opening two fixtures home and away will be against an Argentinian starting side that hasn’t played an international test together in almost a year (remember, almost all of the first team missed the June tests and were rested). Argentina will likely take some time to gel, and the advantage is most definitely with South Africa relative to Australia and New Zealand in this regard. But they will win a few games in this championship, it’s just that, on the balance of probabilities it likely won’t be these first two against South Africa. The final South African game is at home to New Zealand, and that could well be the rugby championship decider. The advantage is obviously with the home team in this case, and should the rugby championship go down to the wire between our two favourites (South Africa and New Zealand), the advantage, again, is with South Africa.

Early Pick

We highlighted in our Argentina rugby championship preview that Argentina are well worth a punt at 100/1, and they certainly are, especially when you consider you’re getting ten quid absolutely free from skybet. For an interest bet with a far better than 100/1 chance of winning, you could do so much worse. This is especially for rugby starved neutrals in the Northern Hemisphere looking for a couple of fun interest bets, and it’s a no brainer to have someone to cheer on in the plucky Argies for a small free bet.

But if you’re having a real punt with a viable risk/return profile, for us, South Africa are the value pick at 7/2, and the price will likely come in a bit as they balance their books on big punts on New Zealand. New Zealand are not invincible, especially with inclement weather, and if it rains (it’s winter down there you know!), South African power will count against the smaller All Blacks. South Africa are only available at a bigger price at bwin at 4/1, but the 200 quid Free bet bonus from Bet365 should take it for you, making it a risk free bet for any new account openers.

**Updates on new value markets for the rugby championship will appear at the top of this post as they appear in the run up to the rugby championship**

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Rugby Championship 2012 Betting Preview- Argentina and Australia

***Rugby Championship Odds update- Australia now out to a biggest 6/1 with Sportingbet, from where they were at 7/2. This is quite a big leap, and while we don’t fancy Australia for the win, 6/1 has a sniff of value about it. If they beat New Zealand in the first game this Saturday (importantly, Australia are at home), then that price will probably half to 3/1. Also, if after reading the below you fancy a small punt on Argentina, you can now get them at 125/1 in paddypower. As we say below; favourable fixtures for Argentina mean they shouldn’t be that big…***Wednesday Aug 15th

The Rugby Championship 2012 (formerly tri-nations – now Four Nations) will be the seventeenth annual rugby union series between New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. This tournament will be unique as the first major tournament that Argentina is involved aside from the World cup. In an interesting corporate twist, the rugby championship will be named differently in each country;

  • In South Africa it will be referred to as The Castle Rugby Championship
  • In New Zealand, The Investec Rugby Championship
  • In Australia they’ll call it the Castrol Edge Rugby Championship
  • And in Argentina they’ll call it The Personal Rugby Championship

The 2012 Rugby Championship will kick off on 18 August and will finish on 6 October. Each team will play the other twice on a home and away basis.

Argentina, rugby championship- current world rank – 8

Since going out 33-10 to eventual champions New Zealand in the World cup Quarter final last year, Argentina have played three tests in June 2012. The squad for these three tests was devoid of most of their French based TOP 14 players, and gave an opportunity for many home-based players to put their hands up for selection for the forthcoming rugby championship.

Their first game against Italy saw them comprehensively beat a virtually full strength Italian team 37-22. Only Parisse was missing from the Italian side, and while he is no doubt integral to Italian efforts, his absence wasn’t the reason for this beating. The Argentinians were too much for the Italians – faster, stronger and hungrier. The only thing they were missing was a decent scrum, which the source of most of the Italian points. Also it is important to remember that the only real internationals of experience present were Roncero and Contepomi.

The second games saw them beat world cup finalists France at the death with a score against the run of play, finishing 23-20 with a converted try, (and killing our France -3 on the handicap!). Up to that point they were doing well to stay in touch with a star studded French side chasing ranking points, and in the end they were good value for their win. Remember a good chunk of these lads play their rugby in Argentina, far from the spotlight of European and Super 15 rugby.

In the third game they were comprehensively beaten 49-10 by France, after making 8 changes to give everyone in the squad a run. France were out for revenge here, and after shaking off their international rustiness from the previous week, it was a case of men against fatigued boys. Freddy Michalak was back pulling the strings, with the likes of Mermoz, Huget, and Picamoles tearing a tired inexperienced Argentinian squad asunder.

Argentina began these June internationals by resting over 20 players from the Top 14 and the Aviva premiership in anticipation of the rugby championship. They obviously set out with the goal of blooding what would make up the remainder of the International squad to play the rugby championship, and with two strong performances they must be happy with the wins achieved.

Key Points

There are a couple of important points to consider when sizing up Argentina’s prospects for the rugby championship.

  1. The majority of their internationals to come back will have had almost three months rest for the beginning of this tournament. The likes of Horacio Agulla, Bustos Moyano, Albacete, Lobbe, Ayerza, Fernandez, Creevy, Bosch etc. will all come into this tournament completely refreshed. Contrast that with the other three rugby teams and there’s one glaring fact that stands out – the Super 15 season finishes on August 4th, 2 weeks before the Rugby Championship starts. Almost every player for all three Southern Hemisphere teams (except a few injury returnees) will be at the end of a bruising season, with three testing internationals in June. You could look at this and say that they will be match fit, or you could look at it and say there will be more injuries, quite possibly to key players. And I’m sure Argentina will organise some game time to get the boys up to speed locally before coming out. The overall fatigue profile of all four teams is a big consideration going into this rugby championship.
  2. World cup winning coach Graham Henry has been drafted in as adviser to the Argentinian management in the lead up to the rugby championship. He will be a huge source of valid information, preparation ideals, and ways to approach home and away games. He was likely behind the decision to play are largely inexperienced team in the June tests.
  3. On the showing of the June Internationals, there’s a decent chance they can put away both South Africa and Australia at home, and quite possibly one of them away. South African fitness was awful in all three tests against England in the second half of all three June games. And there’s questions about whether the off-form Morne Steyn will be removed (he probably should be, but won’t be). Argentina play South Africa away first, and with a win first up, who knows how things can go for them. They can also realistically test an Australian side that scraped home in two of three games against a Welsh team that was nothing special.

Early Picks

For the moment there are only tournament win markets available, but I’ll update as soon as anything else starts to appear.

For now, Argentina to win the tournament is 100/1 in betfred and skybet. It is as low as 50/1 elsewhere. This is simply FAR too big for a few reasons. Argentina can beat South Africa and Australia on their day, even slightly off their day. Argentina also held New Zealand to a 6 point victory a couple of years back in Argentina. And crucially, South Africa and Australia could always beat New Zealand – they don’t have the same fear as Northern Hemisphere teams do. With the amount of intangibles, possible injuries, and rest Argentina have, this 100/1 is far too big and surely can’t last that long? It’s well worth an interest.

Go to Skybet for a free £10 bet

Go to Betfred free for a £50 bet

**Updates on value markets will appear at the top of this post as they appear in the run up to the rugby championship**

Australia – Pre-rugby championship- current world rank – 2

In 2011 Australia ended a ten year winless tournament run by winning the last ever tri-nations championship; their first win since 2001. This was off the back of the Reds winning their first ever Super XV championship. This June, they began their four match test series with a shock loss to a touring Scotland side, and followed that with three wins against Six Nations Grand Slam Champions Wales.

The first 9-6 loss to Scotland was Scotland’s first win in the Southern Hemisphere for 30 years. Like the Irish win at the World Cup, the forecast awful weather before the game had many of us thinking this could be Scotland’s day, and so it proved. Despite not getting anything from the referee in the scrum until the final winning penalty, Scotland owned the scrum all game and they were slightly hard done by over the entire 80 minutes. Scotland perhaps also should have win by a little more, with Laidlaw missing kicks, and butchering a try-scoring chance with a simple knock-on when Scotland looked nailed on for a try. Australia lacked incisiveness despite dominating for large periods, and Scotland tackled their hearts out.

But there were mitigating factors for Australia in this loss that should reduce its importance in assessing true Australian form. They had rested a number of players for this game, and they were off the back of a round of Super-Rugby just 2 days previously. This was an epic scheduling failure by the Australian Rugby Union, and one solely motivated by money. They almost set their side up for a completely torrid June series against Wales, but Australia rallied and put the Scottish loss behind them, following it with three wins against the Welsh.

Australia won the first test 27-19. They came out of the traps early and Wales were never able to handle the intensity here. Both sides squandered chances, and Australian intensity let up in the second half and Wales came back into the game. Australia were impressive in this game in their precision (look away try-butcher Rob Horne!), but let Wales back in before putting the game to bed with a late try. Worryingly, despite looking like they had full control of the result, there were a number of occasions when Wales could have undeservedly nicked the lead and sneaked the win.

In the second and third test Australia won narrowly by two and one points respectively. Both games were sealed by penalties at the death, and realistically Australia could have lost either game. In both games they tended to gift Wales turnover ball when they were on the attack inside the Welsh 22, and overall they lacked the precision of the first test. Indeed Wales looked on for a victory in the final game with momentum firmly theirs, going ahead in the 60th minute only for Australia to hit back almost immediately with a sucker-punch try (put your hand up Rob Horne!), to give us a grand finale. In both games it was tough to decide whether Australia were just doing enough, or whether they barely had enough. That said Australia still beat the Six Nations champions with players missing and out of position, so there’s a doggedness and resilience there without a doubt. And they’ll need that against New Zealand first up.

Key Points

  1. Australia came into these tests with quite a few high profile injuries in Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor, not to mention James Horwill and Rocky Elsom. Horwill is out for the season, and Elsom probably won’t be back, and has been injured repeatedly and off form anyway. Currently O’Connor looks set to miss the first game of the rugby championship, and Beale is a slight doubt. He made a number of errors in his comeback in the final Welsh test, and looked to be really struggling.
  2. If Wales can get Beale and Cooper back and firing on all cylinders, with a fully fit team, they can beat anyone in the rugby championship. You’d imagine Deans will start with Cooper, and he has looked good since coming back from injury. Barnes will feel hard done by if he is left out of the ten spot, after being the main force behind the three test wins against Wales.
  3. Australian attacks frequently broke down against Wales and they’ll have to get that right for the upcoming championship. They frequently found themselves going from the Welsh line to their own line in under ten seconds. They’ll be punished far more severely by the likes of New Zealand. Their scrum also needs work.
  4. Australian depth of quality is probably the lowest of the Four Nations going into this tournament, and if injury were to befall the likes of Pocock or Genia, they’ll have real issues for the upcoming games.

Early Picks

As mentioned, Australia can compete with any team with a fully fit squad. But questions remain whether they will have one. The early price of 7/2 in stanjames and skybet does look quite big in comparison to New Zealand. Australia have New Zealand first game up in Sydney, and if they win that game the price won’t stay at 7/2. If you were one of many who saw this Welsh side as the best in the Northern Hemisphere, then you’d be justified in taking some of this price early. Another thing to remember is the fact that before they won the rugby championship last year, they also lost a game to Samoa with a wakened team. Perhaps the Scotland loss was just what they needed then!

Go to stanjames for a free £10 bet

For now (for us) a watching brief on the price is probably best for Australia as they are the most vulnerable to injuries out of the big three. Watch the top of this page for updates on the rugby championship. We’ll update as important injuries are confirmed cleared up or not at the top of this page.

**Updates on value markets will appear at the top of this post as they appear in the run up to the rugby championship**

Rugby Championship Betting preview New Zealand and Australia

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