Category Archives: Rugby Betting Reviews

Guinness Pro12 Rugby Preview 2016/17

Pro12 Rugby is back! Welcome to my preview of the 2016/17 Guinness Pro 12. Last season saw Connacht play some outstanding rugby and be crowned champions – will they repeat that feat this season or will someone else rise from the pack to challenge them?

 

There’s a team by team analysis below the fixtures.

Guinness Pro12

Friday 2 September
19:35
Leinster
v.
Benetton Treviso
19:35
Ospreys
v.
Zebre
19:35
Ulster
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
Saturday 3 September
15:00
Scarlets
v.
Munster
17:15
Connacht
v.
Glasgow Warriors
19:35
Cardiff Blues
v.
Edinburgh
Friday 9 September
19:15
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Zebre
19:35
Edinburgh
v.
Scarlets
19:35
Munster
v.
Cardiff Blues
Saturday 10 September
15:00
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Leinster
19:05
Benetton Treviso
v.
Ulster
19:35
Connacht
v.
Ospreys
Friday 16 September
19:00
Cardiff Blues
v.
Glasgow Warriors
19:05
Ulster
v.
Scarlets
19:35
Edinburgh
v.
Leinster
Saturday 17 September
17:05
Zebre
v.
Connacht
17:15
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Munster
19:35
Ospreys
v.
Benetton Treviso
Friday 23 September
19:05
Benetton Treviso
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
19:35
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Ulster
19:35
Leinster
v.
Ospreys
Saturday 24 September
15:00
Munster
v.
Edinburgh
16:05
Zebre
v.
Cardiff Blues
19:35
Scarlets
v.
Connacht
Friday 30 September
19:35
Connacht
v.
Edinburgh
19:35
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Glasgow Warriors
Saturday 1 October
17:00
Munster
v.
Zebre
18:30
Ulster
v.
Ospreys
19:05
Benetton Treviso
v.
Scarlets
19:35
Cardiff Blues
v.
Leinster
Friday 7 October
19:35
Connacht
v.
Ulster
19:35
Edinburgh
v.
Benetton Treviso
19:35
Ospreys
v.
Cardiff Blues
Saturday 8 October
14:05
Leinster
v.
Munster
16:05
Zebre
v.
Glasgow Warriors
19:35
Scarlets
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
Friday 28 October
19:35
Cardiff Blues
v.
Scarlets
19:35
Edinburgh
v.
Zebre
19:35
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Benetton Treviso
19:35
Ulster
v.
Munster
Saturday 29 October
15:00
Ospreys
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
17:15
Leinster
v.
Connacht
Friday 4 November
19:15
Benetton Treviso
v.
Cardiff Blues
19:15
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Connacht
19:35
Edinburgh
v.
Ulster
19:35
Munster
v.
Ospreys
Saturday 5 November
16:05
Zebre
v.
Leinster
19:35
Scarlets
v.
Glasgow Warriors
Friday 25 November
19:35
Connacht
v.
Cardiff Blues
19:35
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Ospreys
19:35
Scarlets
v.
Leinster
19:35
Ulster
v.
Zebre
Saturday 26 November
17:00
Munster
v.
Benetton Treviso
Sunday 27 November
15:30
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Edinburgh
Friday 2 December
19:35
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Munster
19:35
Ospreys
v.
Edinburgh
Saturday 3 December
14:05
Zebre
v.
Scarlets
15:00
Connacht
v.
Benetton Treviso
17:15
Cardiff Blues
v.
Ulster
19:35
Leinster
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
Friday 23 December
18:35
Benetton Treviso
v.
Zebre
19:35
Ulster
v.
Connacht
Monday 26 December
14:05
Cardiff Blues
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
16:05
Edinburgh
v.
Glasgow Warriors
17:30
Munster
v.
Leinster
Tuesday 27 December
15:00
Ospreys
v.
Scarlets
Saturday 31 December
00:00
Zebre
v.
Edinburgh
13:00
Benetton Treviso
v.
Glasgow Warriors
15:00
Leinster
v.
Ulster
17:30
Connacht
v.
Munster
Sunday 1 January
15:00
Scarlets
v.
Cardiff Blues
17:05
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Ospreys
Friday 6 January
19:15
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Benetton Treviso
19:35
Leinster
v.
Zebre
19:35
Scarlets
v.
Ulster
Saturday 7 January
00:00
Ospreys
v.
Connacht
15:00
Edinburgh
v.
Munster
19:35
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Cardiff Blues
Saturday 11 February
00:00
Benetton Treviso
v.
Leinster
00:00
Cardiff Blues
v.
Connacht
00:00
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Scarlets
00:00
Munster
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
00:00
Ulster
v.
Edinburgh
00:00
Zebre
v.
Ospreys
Saturday 18 February
00:00
Cardiff Blues
v.
Benetton Treviso
00:00
Connacht
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
00:00
Leinster
v.
Edinburgh
00:00
Ospreys
v.
Munster
00:00
Scarlets
v.
Zebre
00:00
Ulster
v.
Glasgow Warriors
Saturday 25 February
00:00
Benetton Treviso
v.
Connacht
00:00
Edinburgh
v.
Cardiff Blues
00:00
Munster
v.
Scarlets
00:00
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Leinster
00:00
Ospreys
v.
Glasgow Warriors
00:00
Zebre
v.
Ulster
Saturday 4 March
00:00
Cardiff Blues
v.
Munster
00:00
Connacht
v.
Zebre
00:00
Edinburgh
v.
Ospreys
00:00
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
00:00
Leinster
v.
Scarlets
00:00
Ulster
v.
Benetton Treviso
Saturday 25 March
00:00
Benetton Treviso
v.
Ospreys
00:00
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Connacht
00:00
Leinster
v.
Cardiff Blues
00:00
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Ulster
00:00
Scarlets
v.
Edinburgh
00:00
Zebre
v.
Munster
Saturday 8 April
00:00
Edinburgh
v.
Connacht
00:00
Munster
v.
Glasgow Warriors
00:00
Ospreys
v.
Leinster
00:00
Scarlets
v.
Benetton Treviso
00:00
Ulster
v.
Cardiff Blues
00:00
Zebre
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
Friday 14 April
19:35
Connacht
v.
Leinster
19:35
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Zebre
Saturday 15 April
14:45
Cardiff Blues
v.
Ospreys
15:00
Munster
v.
Ulster
17:15
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Scarlets
19:05
Benetton Treviso
v.
Edinburgh
Saturday 29 April
00:00
Benetton Treviso
v.
Munster
00:00
Cardiff Blues
v.
Zebre
00:00
Connacht
v.
Scarlets
00:00
Edinburgh
v.
Newport Gwent Dragons
00:00
Leinster
v.
Glasgow Warriors
00:00
Ospreys
v.
Ulster
Saturday 6 May
17:15
Glasgow Warriors
v.
Edinburgh
17:15
Munster
v.
Connacht
17:15
Newport Gwent Dragons
v.
Cardiff Blues
17:15
Scarlets
v.
Ospreys
17:15
Ulster
v.
Leinster
17:15
Zebre
v.
Benetton Treviso
Friday 19 May
00:00
TBC
v.
TBC
00:00
TBC
v.
TBC
Saturday 27 May
00:00
TBC
v.
TBC

Pro12 Rugby Team by team analysis:

 

Cardiff Blues Rugby

Players In

Nick Williams (Ulster), Matthew Morgan (Bristol), Willis Halaholo (Hurricanes), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Steven Shingler (Scarlets), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets), George Earle (Scarlets) ,Rhun Williams (RGC 1404)

Players Out

Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Sam Hobbs (Dragons), Craig Mitchell (Dragons), Chris Dicomidis (Pontypridd), Tom Williams (Scarlets), Miles Normandale (Rotherham), Harry Davies (Bath), Manoa Vosawai (RC Vannes), Lou Reed (Sale), Richard Smith (Scarlets), Tom Isaacs (Hong Kong Football Club), Tom Davies (Dragons), Gavin Evans (Neath), Gareth Davies (Merthyr), Elis Wyn Benham (released)

ANALYSIS – A team that has flattered to deceive in recent seasons, but under Danny Wilson’s leadership they seem to be on an upward trajectory and the second half of last season in particular was excellent. Nick Williams will bring some much needed go forward at number 8, whilst Halaholo and Morgan add some dancing feet to an already exciting backline.

Their 7th place finish last season saw them have a very strong home record with 8 wins and 3 losses, but away from home they had the reverse record (joint 4th worst in the whole league) where they suffered the indignity of away defeats to both Italian teams.

They were the highest points scorers at home by a considerable margin (335 points, next highest was Leinster on 296), which equated to an average of 30 points per home game but matched that to a poor defensive record – an average of 19 points conceded per game – the 4th worst record in the league. If they are to have a real go at the top 4 this season they will need to tighten up defensively, as they also conceded an average of 23 points per away game.

Their disciplinary record was outstanding, the best in the league in fact with only 5 yellow cards awarded against them in the whole season.

 

Connaght Rugby

Players In

Marnitz Boshoff (Lions), Eoin Griffin (London Irish), Conor Carey (Nottingham), Cian Kelleher (Leinster), Dominic Robertson-McCoy (Northland), Josh Rowland (Ireland Sevens)

Players Out

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Rodney Ah You (Ulster), AJ MacGinty (Sale), Aly Muldowney (Grenoble), Api Pewhairangi (London Broncos RL), George Naoupu (Harlequins), Fionn Carr (released), Jason Harris-Wright (released), Ian Porter (released)

ANALYSIS – Last season’s surprise champions, Connaght made friends the world over with their never-say-die attitude and willingness to run the ball.  Repeating the triumph will be a supremely difficult feat but Pat Lam will keep expectations high and if they can finish in the top 4 again then anything is possible in the playoffs.

With 10 home wins and only 1 defeat they had the second best home record in the league last season. They only won 5 away though and that perhaps in an area for improvement that they will be targeting. Their home record was built on defence – with an average of only 14 points conceded per game (3rd best in the league).

How they cope with the loss of both MacGinty and Henshaw from the backs in particular will have a big impact on how their season goes, but Connaght has never been about the big names, it has been about the collective.

 

Edinburgh Rugby

Players In

Duncan Weir (Glasgow), Junior Rasolea (Western Force), Viliami Fihaki (Sale), Rory Scholes (Ulster), Glenn Bryce (Glasgow), Kevin Bryce (Glasgow), Nick Beavon (Melrose), Jason Tovey (Dragons), Alex Northam (North Harbour Rays), Sasa Tofilau (Kirkcaldy), Lewis Carmichael (Melrose), Viliame Mata (Fiji Sevens)

Players Out

Matt Scott (Gloucester), Mike Coman (London Irish), Sam Beard (Dragons), Greig Tonks (London Irish), John Andress (Munster, Jack Cuthbert (Jersey Reds), Andries Strauss (retired), Nick McLennan (Scotland Sevens), Grant Shiells (London Scottish), Alex Toolis (Melbourne Rebels), Jade Te Rure (Manawatu)

ANALYSIS – A 9th placed finish last season probably disappointed lots involved at the club, although to be fair they were a long way clear of the bottom three. There has been quite a large turnover of players since the end of last season and although Duncan Weir will undoubtedly provided a steady hand to run the back division, Matt Scott will be a big miss in midfield.

They were decent at home last season, with 8 wins and 3 defeats, but only won 3 times away from home (Treviso, Zebre & Dragons), and if they want to challenge for a top 4 place they will need to win more away games.

They did struggle for points both at home and away, only averaging 22 points per home game and 14 points per away game. Their defensive record on the whole though was excellent, only conceding an average of 14 points per home game (only Leinster and Ulster had better records) and an average of 19 points per away game (4th best in the league). With that solid foundation to build on, if they can improve their attack they should have high hopes of finishing much higher this time around.

Their disciplinary record was also strong, with only 8 yellow card received all season (4th best record in the league).

 

Glasgow Warriors

Players In

Corey Flynn (Toulouse), Leonardo Sarto (Zebre), Rory Clegg (Oyonnax), Nemia Kenatale (Farul Constanța), Tjiuee Uanivi (Sharks), Hagen Schulte (Canterbury), Jarrod Firth (Counties Manukau)

Players Out

Duncan Weir (Edinburgh), Glenn Bryce (Edinburgh), Robbie Fergusson (London Scottish), Mike Blair (retired), James Eddie (retired), Kevin Bryce (Edinburgh), Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92), Jason Hill (Bedford Blues), Taqele Naiyaravoro (NSW Waratahs), Michael Cusack (Yorkshire Carnegie), Gregor Hunter (Gala), Fergus Scott (Currie), Will Bordill (Ayr), Javan Sebastian (released), Jerry Yanuyanutawa (released), Tyrone Holmes (released), Shalva Mamukashvili (released)

ANALYSIS – Leone Nakarawa is the standout name on the transfers out list for the beaten semi-finalists from last season, who performed superbly for much of it. Replacing what he brought to the side will be difficult, but Corey Flynn is a good player, and Kenatale is a similar type of 2nd row to Nakarawa

They won 9 and lost 2 at home, scoring an average of 24 points per game and conceding 18. Their away record was excellent also, winning 5, drawing 1 game and losing 5. They were the leagues highest average scorers away from home (24 points per game) and also had the joint second best away defensive record (18 points per game).

One area they will want to improve on is their disciplinary record; they had the 3rd worst in the league last season with 15 yellow cards and this is surely something that Gregor Townsend will want to work on before he takes over the Scotland job at the end of the season.

 

Leinster Rugby

Players In

Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Jamison Gibson-Park (Hurricanes), Ian Nagle (London Irish), Niall Morris (Leicester)

Players Out

Ben Te’o (Worcester), Ian Madigan (Bordeaux Begles), Marty Moore (Wasps), Darragh Fanning (retired), Cian Kelleher (Connacht), Tom Farrell (Bedford Blues), Tom Denton (Gloucester), Isaac Boss (Waikato), Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets), Eoin Reddan (retired), Luke Fitzgerald (retired), Aaron Dundon (retired), Mick McGrath (Ireland Sevens), Royce Burke-Flynn (released), Kevin McLaughlin (retired), Collie O’Shea (released), Tony Ryan (released)

ANALYSIS – With only 4 players coming in to join last season’s beaten finalists, Leinster obviously have faith in the existing depth of their excellent squad and the youngsters coming through the system. To be fair, Henshaw in the centre and Gibson-Park at scrum-half will seriously strengthen a back-line packed with quality. Madigan and Te’o though will be missed.

Leinster had such a good season overall that they will have been seriously disappointed to fall at the final hurdle against Connaght. They had a 100% home record, winning 11 out of 11, with both the second best attacking record (27 points per game) and the second best defensive record (12 points per game).

They will though have been disappointed to lose 6 times on the road where their excellent defensive record continued (average of 14 points per game conceded) but their attack was blunt, with only 167 points scored in total, only better than the bottom four in the league. 10 yellow cards will also be disappointing, although 9 of these did come away from home.

 

Munster Rugby

Players In

Sam Arnold (Ulster), John Andress (Edinburgh), Darren O’Shea (Worcester), Jean Kleyn (Stormers)

Players Out

Jordan Coghlan (Nottingham), Gearoid Lyons (Nottingham), Shane Buckley (Nottingham), Jack Cullen (London Scottish), BJ Botha (released), Gerhard van den Heever (released), Cathal Sheridan (released), Denis Hurley (released)

ANALYSIS – There is a school of thought that by far the best signing Munster have made this season is their new director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. He has brought defence coach Jacques Nienaber with him from the Stormers, and the Munster fans will be keen to see an instant impact, as a 6th place finish is not what they are used to.

They were strong at home last season with 8 wins and 3 losses, with decent attack and defence averages (25 points per game and 17 points per game respectively), and a 5-1-5 record away from home is very respectable in the league overall – only the Scarlets and the Ospreys had better records. They did struggle for points away from home though, only scoring an average of 17 per game.

Erasmus will almost certainly be looking to build on last season’s strong defence, but look to build a more effective attacking game plan to target a top 4 finish.

 

Newport Gwent Dragons Rugby

Players In

Sam Hobbs (Cardiff Blues), Sam Beard (Edinburgh), Nick Macleod (Sale), Craig Mitchell (Cardiff Blues), Patrick Howard (Northampton), Darran Harris (Rotherham), Tom Davies (Cardiff Blues), Ashley Sweet (Ebbw Vale)

Players Out

Taulupe Faletau (Bath), Hugh Gustafson (Ospreys), Jason Tovey (Edinburgh), Andrew Coombs (retired), Matthew Pewtner (retired)

ANALYSIS – Fans of the Dragons are probably correct to be apprehensive about the season ahead. Their stand-out player in Faletau has gone to Bath, and although they do have some talented youngsters in Amos, Dixon and Morgan, the squad does look short on talent and depth. However, as their progress in the Challenge Cup last seasons showed, on their day they are capable of some outstanding performances.

Last season’s 10th place finish saw them only 2 points ahead of Zebre and a huge 28 points behind Edinburgh in 9th. They only won 4 games all season, all at home, losing all eleven games on the road. Scoring points was a real issue for them, with the second lowest average points score at home (18) and the second lowest average points score away (14). Whilst they were strong defensively at home they were terrible away, conceding an average of 27 points per game. They will have to do something about this if this season is to go any better.

Discipline has been an on-going concern for the Dragons – they had the 4th worst record in the league last season with 12 yellow cards received.

 

Ospreys Rugby

Players In

Bradley Davies (Wasps), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Hugh Gustafson (Dragons), Kieron Fonotia (Crusaders)

Players Out

Aaron Jarvis (Clermont Auvergne), Kristian Phillips (London Welsh), Marc Thomas (Jersey Reds), Ifereimi Boladau (London Scottish), Rynier Bernardo (Scarlets), Jordan Collier (released), Matthew Dwyer (released), Lloyd Evans (released), Richard Fussell (backs skills coach), Rhodri Hughes (released), Aled Jenkins (released), Gareth Delve (released)

ANALYSIS – An 8th placed finish last season was disappointing, considering the wealth of talent they have in their squad. The world cup did play havoc with their internationals though, Alun Wyn-Jones for example only started 4 games for them, however on the flip side one could argue that Leinster coped with the impact that the world cup had on their internationals pretty well to finish 2nd. Bradley Davies and Kieron Fonotia are both excellent additions to the 2nd row and centre respectively and will add something extra for sure.

The Ospreys were poor at home last season, only winning 5 games, but actually had the best away record in the whole league – winning 6 games. That away success was built on an average of 23 points scored in each game away from home and they will surely be looking to maintain that attacking game-plan. Doubts though still linger about Dan Biggar’s suitability to play an attacking game, although their is no-one better in Wales at managing a game at present.

Their disciplinary record was excellent, only receiving 6 yellow cards all season – the joint second best record in the league.

 

Scarlets Rugby

Players In

Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Rhys Patchell (Cardiff Blues), Johnny McNicholl (Crusaders), Werner Kruger (Bulls), Jonathan Evans (Bath), Tom Williams (Cardiff Blues), Rynier Bernardo (Ospreys), Tadhg Beirne (Leinster), Richard Smith (Cardiff Blues)

Players Out

Rhodri Williams (Bristol), Rhodri Jones (Ospreys), Steven Shingler (Cardiff Blues), Maselino Paulino (Lyon), George Earle (Cardiff Blues), Kirby Myhill (Cardiff Blues), Jordan Williams (Bristol), Harry Robinson (retired), Kieran Hardy (Jersey Reds), Regan King (Jersey Reds), Michael Tagicakibau (Treviso), Josh Lewis (Ebbw Vale), Ben Leung (Cardiff), Connor Lloyd (Carmarthen Quins), Jack Jones (Llanelli), Torin Myhill (Carmarthen Quins), Phil John (released), Michael Collins (released), Jack Payne (released)

ANALYSIS – A season that promised much petered out disappointingly last time around as the Scarlets could only finish 5th. They have attempted to build on the progress made last season though with some extremely exciting signings. The additions of Patchell, McNicoll and Davies give them arguably the best backline in the league. Their success or failure as a team though will depend on the strength of their forward pack as a unit though.

They won 8 games at home last season, were defensively poor, conceding an average of 21 points each game (only Treviso and Zebre had worse records). They did have the joint best away record in the league (with the Ospreys), winning 6 and losing 5 but again will feel that they conceded too many points.

If they can tighten up defensively, especially at home, their backline could and should cause everyone serious problems. Their discipline was atrocious last season – and this is one area that they will surely be looking to improve on. They had the worst record in the whole league with a total of 18 yellow cards received in 22 games.

 

Treviso Rugby

Players In

Marty Banks (Highlanders), Tommaso Allan (Perpignan), Tommaso Benvenuti (Bristol), Tito Tebaldi (Harlequins), Michael Tagicakibau (Scarlets), Andrea Buondonno (Mogliano), David Odiete (Mogliano), Ian McKinley (Viadana), Guglielmo Zanini (Rovigo), Giorgio Bronzini (Rovigo), Nicola Quaglio (Rovigo), Filippo Gerosa (Viadana), Tiziano Pasquali (Leicester), Federico Zani (Mogliano), Luca Sperandio (Mogliano)

Players Out

Matteo Muccignat (Rovigo), Ludovico Nitoglia (retired), Enrico Bacchin (Padova), Simone Ragusi (Padova), Alberto Lucchese (Padova), Salesi Manu (Honda Heat), Andrea De Marchi (Rovigo), Duncan Naude (Limoges), Sam Christie (Waikato), James Ambrosini (Amatori), Chris Smylie (North Harbour), Rupert Harden (released), Tom Palmer (released)

ANALYSIS – Last season was very poor for Treviso. They finished bottom, missing out on Champions Cup qualification to Zebre. There has been a huge turnover of players with Marty Banks coming from the Highlanders the standout signing at fly half. Whether they have the depth required over a long season to make any further progress remains open to question.

They only won 3 games last season, all at home. Their average points scored at home (16 per game) was the worst in the league. They also had the fifth worst defensive record, picking up 11 yellow cards. It is hard to know where they go from here – if they can finish above Zebre again they will see it as a successful season.

 

Ulster Rugby

Players In

Charles Piutau (Wasps), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Rodney Ah You (Connacht), Kieran Treadwell (Harlequins), Brett Herron (Bath), Angus Lloyd (Trinity College Dublin)

Players Out

Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues), Sam Arnold (Munster), Rory Scholes (Edinburgh Rugby), Ian Humphreys (retired), Willie Faloon (released), Paul Jackson (released), Ruaidhri Murphy (released), Bronson Ross (released), Paul Rowley (released), Frank Taggart (released)

ANALYSIS – Last season’s 4th placed finish was a great achievement for the Ulstermen, and in Charles Piutau they have undoubtedly the most exciting signing in the whole league.

Ulster were very strong at home, winning 9 and only losing 2 games, and their defensive record was immense, only conceding 108 points at an average of 10 per game (the best record in the league by far). They won 5 games away from home, and their defensive solidity was transported to their away games as they had the second best record away from home, with an average of 18 points per game conceded.

They will also be looking to maintain their excellent disciplinary record; their 6 yellow cards last season was the joint second best in the whole league.

 

Zebre Rugby

Players In

Joshua Furno (Newcastle), Carlo Festuccia (Wasps), Giovanbattista Venditti (Newcastle), Kurt Baker (New Zealand Sevens), Lloyd Greeff (Golden Lions), Derick Minnie (Golden Lions), Bart le Roux (Leopards), Carlo Engelbrecht (Blue Bulls), Gabriele Di Giulio (Calvisano), Mattia Bellini (Padova), Tommaso Castello (Calvisano), Maxime Mbandà (Calvisano)

Players Out

Leonardo Sarto (Glasgow), Mirco Bergamasco (Sacramento Express), Filippo Ferrarini (Ohio Aviators), Mils Muliaina (San Diego Breakers), Marco Bortolami (retired), Emiliano Caffini (Fiamme Oro), Filippo Cristiano (Fiamme Oro), Kelly Haimona (Bay of Plenty), Giulio Toniolatti (Lazio), Jean Cook (Kintetsu Liners), Michele Visentin (Mogliano), Paul Derbyshire (Amatori), Emiliano Coria (Nevers), Gonzalo Garcia (Cahors), Ulrich Beyers (released), Luke Burgess (retired), Bruno Mercanti (released)

ANALYSIS – 2015/16 was as successful a season as they are ever likely to have, finishing 11th and qualifying for the Champions Cup. There has again been though a huge turnover of players – they look to have made some interesting signings, Kurt Baker in particular is a very good 7s player, but whether they can be moulded into an effective team remains to be seen.

They won 4 home games in the league last season,and beat Treviso away. Statistically though they have a huge amount of work to do. They conceded an average of 29 points per home game (the worst in the league) and an average of 37 points per away game (again the worst in the league). They also only scored 71 points in their eleven away games at an average of only 6 per game. This is surely something that must be improved.

They also had the second worst disciplinary record in the league, picking up 16 yellow cards in their 22 games.

 

Betting Angles:

Pro 12 Betting Odds

Not a huge amount of value in the long-term market as far as I can see. Leinster and Glasgow are worthy favourites. Connaght seem a big price if they are anywhere near as good as last season.

Aviva Premiership Rugby Preview 2016/17

Premiership Rugby Preview 2016/17

By Wazza 23 Aug 2016

Premiership Rugby is back! Welcome to my preview of the 2016/17 Aviva Premiership. Last season saw Saracens play some outstanding rugby and be crowned champions – will they repeat that feat this season or will someone else rise from the pack to challenge them?

Key Statistics: 

I’ve put together the following tables to assist with our analysis of last season:

Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Stats
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Stats
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Kicking Percentages
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Kicking Percentages
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Yellow Cards
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Yellow Cards
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Try Scorers
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Try Scorers I
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Try Scorers II
Aviva Premiership 2015/16 Try Scorers II

Premiership rugby Team by team analysis:

Bath Rugby

IN: Luke Charteris (from Racing 92), Taulupe Faletau (from Dragons), Elliott Stooke (from Gloucester), Michael van Vuuren (from Leicester Tigers), Harry Davies (from Cardiff Blues), Kahn Fotuali’i (from Northampton Saints), Jack Walker (from Yorkshire Carnegie).

OUT: Will Spencer (to Worcester Warriors), Ollie Devoto (to Exeter Chiefs), Rob Webber (to Sale Sharks), Jonathan Evans (to Scarlets), Luke Arscott (to Bristol), Max Northcote-Green (to London Irish), Brett Herron (to Ulster), Stuart Hooper (retired), Dominic Day (to Toyota Verblitz), Amanaki Mafi (to NTT Shining Arcs), Tom Woolstencroft (to Wasps), Leroy Houston (to Queensland Reds), Horacio Agulla (to Castres), Kyle Eastmond (to Wasps), Alafoti Fa’osiliva (released).

FIXTURES

Sept 3 Northampton A

Sept 10 Newcastle H

Sept 17 Worcester H

Sept 25 Leicester A

Oct 1 Gloucester A

Oct 7 Sale H

Oct 30 Exeter A

Nov 18 Bristol H

Nov 26 Harlequins A

Dec 3 Saracens H

Dec 23/24/26 Wasps A

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Exeter H

Jan 8 Newcastle A

Feb 11 Northampton H

Feb 18 Harlequins H

Feb 24 Bristol A

March 4 Wasps H

March 25 Saracens A

April 8 Leicester H (Twickenham Stadium)

April 15 Worcester A

April 29 Gloucester H

May 6 Sale A

ANALYSIS – Last season was a really tough one for Bath. Finishing 9th was a significant downturn given the previous season’s performance and the amount of quality in the squad. Mike Ford has gone, to be replaced by Todd Blackadder from the Crusaders along with his assistant Tabai Matson. Undoubtedly they are excellent coaches but it will almost certainly take them a good while to get to grips with English rugby.

In terms of the playing squad, there are lots of questions that still need answering. Personally I think George Ford is outstanding, but he was a long way below form last season. Devoto and Eastmond leaving are losses, especially as they look really short in the centres. Mafi, Houston and Webber are all losses in the forwards, but Charteris and Faletau are both excellent and should improve them. Scrum half has been a real issue over the past couple of seasons, with Chris Cook in particular struggling last season. Fotuali’i should make a big difference.

Blackadder will be aiming to finish top 4 for sure, but it is difficult to see where enough improvement comes from to achieve this aim, given that this would require some others to underachieve also. Top 6 looks more realistic. They will need to score more points that last season, averaging only 21 points per game at home and only 19 points away from home. They also lost 5 games at home last season, something again that they will have to address.

Rokodugani aside (who scored 12 tries), the next highest scorers included Mafi and Devoto on 4 tries and they have both left. Consistent try scoring has to be high on Blackadder’s list of improvements. Bath also had the worst disciplinary record in the league last season, collecting a total of 17 yellow cards. They will need to cut down significantly on this if they are to have a chance of success.

 

Bristol Rugby

INS: Martin Roberts (from Ospreys), Rhodri Williams (from Scarlets), Luke Arscott (from Bath), Tusi Pisi (from Sunwolves), Jordan Williams (from Scarlets), Nick Fenton-Wells (from Bedford Blues), Jordan Crane (from Leicester Tigers), Thretton Palamo (from Saracens), Jon Fisher (from Northampton Saints), Soane Tonga’uiha (from Oyonnax), Will Hurrell (from Doncaster Knights), Giorgi Nemsadze (from Tarbes).

OUTS: Matthew Morgan (to Cardiff Blues), Marco Mama (to Worcester Warriors), Dwayne Peel (retired), Craig Hampson (to Wasps), George Watkins (to Jersey Reds), Ellis Genge (to Leicester Tigers), Tommaso Benvenuti (to   Benetton Treviso), Josh Ovens (released), Darren Hudson (released), James Stephenson (released).

FIXTURES

Sept 3 Harlequins A (Twickenham Stadium)

Sept 11 Northampton H

Sept 18 Wasps A

Sept 23 Exeter H

Sept 30 Saracens H

Oct 8 Newcastle A

Oct 30 Sale H

Nov 18 Bath A

Nov 25 Leicester H

Dec 3 Gloucester A

Dec 23/24/26 Worcester H

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Sale A

Jan 7 Northampton A

Feb 10 Harlequins H

Feb 18 Leicester A

Feb 24 Bath H

March 4 Worcester A

March 26 Gloucester H

April 8 Exeter A

April 16 Wasps H

April 29 Saracens A

May 6 Newcastle H

ANALYSIS – The new additions to the league, having finally gained promotion after two or three close failures in recent years. 11th will be success for them but the question remains who are they good enough to finish above?

They have made a couple of decent additions, and people like Jordan Crane and Soane Tonga’uiha with their experience will be important. Matthew Morgan is a loss, but Tusi Pisi coming in at 10 will help significantly as he was often the stand-out player for the Sunwolves in my opinion. Ian Evans will be invaluable in the pack if he can stay fit, and if you look at their backs, there are enough good players like Tom Varndell, Callum Sheedy, David Lemi and Gavin Henson to win them games if their pack can win enough ball.

They have also been dealt a bad hand with the fixture list, having to play possibly the best 5 teams in the league in Harlequins, Northampton, Wasps, Exeter and Saracens in their first 5 games. They could conceivably still be pointless by the time they travel to Newcastle on October 8th, which will make that an even more important game.

 

Exeter Rugby

INS: Greg Holmes (from Queensland Reds), Ollie Devoto (from Bath), Dave Dennis (from NSW Waratahs), Lachlan Turner (from Toulon).

OUTS: Adam Hughes (to Dragons), Josh Jones (to Salford Red Devils), Alex Brown (to USA Perpignan), Brett Sturgess (to Ampthill), Jerry Sexton (to London Irish), Chrysander Botha (released), Byron McGuigan (released), Lewis Stevenson (to Connacht).

FIXTURES

Sept 4 Wasps A

Sept 11 Saracens H

Sept 17 Harlequins H

Sept 23 Bristol A

Sept 30 Northampton A

Oct 8 Gloucester H

Oct 30 Bath H

Nov 18 Newcastle A

Nov 26 Worcester H

Dec 2 Sale A

Dec 23/24/26 Leicester H

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Bath A

Jan 7 Saracens A

Feb 11 Wasps H

Feb 18 Worcester A

Feb 25 Newcastle H

March 4 Leicester A

March 25 Sale H

April 8 Bristol H

April 15 Harlequins A

April 29 Northampton H

May 6 Gloucester A

ANALYSIS – Great season last time around – reaching the quarter finals of the European Cup and the final of the Premiership. On paper they always seem to punch above their weight, but Stuart Baxter is a great coach and seems to specialise in maximising the potential of every player.

The good news for this season is that they have lost pretty much no-one who played a big role last season, and all four signings will add to the squad in a good way. You have to think that they are nailed on for the top 4 again, and should give Saracens a real run for their money again. The fixture list has paired them against their two main rivals first up, away to Wasps in the first week and then at home to Saracens the week after.

They had the joint best home record in the league last season, so expect them to be strong at home again, where they scored and average of 27 points per game, only conceding an average of 13 points per game. They did lose 6 away games in total, although most were by narrow margins.

In terms of discipline Exeter were one of the best behaved teams in the league, only receiving a total of 6 yellow cards. Thomas Waldrom was top tryscorer with a remarkable 13 tries, and if he can hit double figures again I am sure he will be delighted. It remains to be seen how the new maul laws impact on Exeter’s extremely powerful maul from last season – if it is anywhere near as strong again they are bound to do well.

 

Gloucester Rugby

INS: Lewis Ludlow (promoted from academy), Matt Scott (from Edinburgh), Motu Matu’u (from Hurricanes), Josh Hohneck (from Highlanders), Tom Denton (from Leinster), Andy Symons (from Worcester Warriors), Dan Thomas (promoted from academy), Ollie Thorley (promoted from academy), Cameron Orr (from Greater Sydney Rams).

OUTS: Elliott Stooke (to Bath), Steve McColl (to Yorkshire Carnegie), Luke Cole (to Rotherham Titans), Tom Hicks (to Rotherham Titans), James Gibbons (to Ealing Trailfinders), Rob Cook (retired), Nick Wood (retired), Bill Meakes (to Western Force), Steph Reynolds (released), Dan Murphy (released).

FIXTURES

Sept 2 Leicester H

Sept 9 Worcester A

Sept 16 Sale A

Sept 24 Newcastle H

Oct 1 Bath H

Oct 8 Exeter A

Oct 28 Northampton A

Nov 19 Wasps H

Nov 26 Saracens A

Dec 3 Bristol H

Dec 23/24/26 Harlequins A (Twickenham Stadium)

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Northampton H

Jan 7 Worcester H

Feb 11 Leicester A

Feb 18 Saracens H

Feb 26 Wasps A

March 4 Harlequins H

March 26 Bristol A

April 7 Newcastle A

April 15 Sale H

April 29 Bath A

May 6 Exeter H

ANALYSIS – My hometown club and I probably know them better than any other team in the league. Last season was very frustrating, no real progress appeared to have been made, and the team mixed some outstanding performances (Wasps at home) with some genuinely terrible ones (Dragons at home). Their home form ended up being decent enough in the end but away from home they were terrible again.

Defensively last season was much better, only conceding an average of 15 points per game at home (2nd best in the league) and 23 points per game away (7th best in the league)

In terms of recruitment, I can’t say I’m massively enthused that things will be any better. Matt Scott will improve things in the centre no end but apart from that things are much of a muchness. Johnny May is badly needed fit again to spark the backline. I would be suprised to see them improve much on last season’s performance – I can see them being decent at home but struggling on the road again.

They simply need to score more tries – when your 10 is your highest try scorer (Hook with 5 tries) you know you have issues. They have got rid of the highly rated Nick Walshe as backs coach and replaced him with ex-player Tim Taylor in an attempt to address this. It will be interesting to see how Taylor gets on with this challenge.

 

Harlequins Rugby

INS: Charlie Mulchrone (from Worcester Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (from Wasps), Aaron Morris (from Saracens), Mark Reddish (from Highlanders), George Naoupu (from Connacht), Cameron Holstein (from Pau).

OUTS: Kieran Treadwell (to Ulster), Tito Tebaldi (to Benetton Treviso), Ben Botica (to Montpellier), Beau Robinson (released), Nick Easter (retired).

FIXTURES

Sept 3 Bristol H (Twickenham Stadium)

Sept 9 Sale A

Sept 17 Exeter A

Sept 24 Saracens H

Oct 2 Wasps A

Oct 8 Northampton H

Oct 29 Worcester H

Nov 20 Leicester A

Nov 26 Bath H

Dec 4 Newcastle A

Dec 23/24/26 Gloucester H (Twickenham Stadium)

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Worcester A

Jan 7 Sale H

Feb 10 Bristol A

Feb 18 Bath A

Feb 25 Leicester H

March 4 Gloucester A

March 25 Newcastle H

April 8 Saracens A (Wembley Stadium)

April 15 Exeter H

April 29 Wasps H

May 6 Northampton A

ANALYSIS – The league was disappointing for Quins last year, only finishing in 7th. They did well in the Challenge Cup, losing in the final to Montpellier and will be hoping for some improvements in form this season now things are more stable. Connor O’Shea’s decision to announce his leaving part-way through the season probably did them no favours at all. John Kingston has taken over, and he knows he ropes there as well as anyone.

Not a huge amount has changed personnel wise, Botica and Evans have gone but Ruaridh Jackson is a perfectly capable replacement. You look at the internationals that Quins have got and wonder why they didn’t finish higher. They will feel that they should be pushing for a top 4 place and they will undoubtedly be targeting that this year.

They had no problem scoring points last season – averaging 29 per game at home and 21 per game away, but will want to tighten up defensively – they conceded an average of 26 per game at home (the worst in the whole league) and an average of 25 per game away (only London Irish and Newcastle had worse records).

Wingers Walker and Visser were top try scorers last season with 10 and 9 tries respectively, which demonstrates that width that Quins try and play with (especially at home).

 

Leicester Tigers Rugby

INS: Matt Toomua (from Brumbies), JP Pietersen (from Sharks), Tom Brady (from Sale Sharks), George McGuigan (from Newcastle Falcons), Pat Cilliers (from Montpellier), Luke Hamilton (from Agen), Ellis Genge (from Bristol).

OUTS: Leonardo Ghiraldini (to Toulouse), Tommy Bell (to London Irish), Laurence Pearce (to Sale Sharks), Vereniki Goneva (to Newcastle Falcons), Miles Benjamin (retired), Seremaia Bai (retired), Sebastian De Chaves (to London Irish), Michael van Vuuren (to Bath), Jean de Villiers (retired/released), George Tresidder (to Rotherham Titans), Jordan Crane (to Bristol), Tiziano Pasquali (to Benetton Treviso), Matías Agüero (to Provence), Christian Loamanu (to Provence), Niall Morris (to Leinster), Sam Yawayawa (to Nottingham), Opeti Fonua (to Newcastle Falcons).

FIXTURES

Sept 2 Gloucester A

Sept 10 Wasps H

Sept 18 Newcastle A

Sept 25 Bath H

Oct 1 Sale A

Oct 8 Worcester H

Oct 29 Saracens A

Nov 20 Harlequins H

Nov 25 Bristol A

Dec 3 Northampton H

Dec 23/24/26 Exeter A

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Saracens H

Jan 8 Wasps A

Feb 11 Gloucester H

Feb 18 Bristol H

Feb 25 Harlequins A

March 4 Exeter H

March 25 Northampton A

April 8 Bath A (Twickenham Stadium)

April 15 Newcastle H

April 29 Sale H

May 6 Worcester A

Analysis – Last season was a strange one in many ways for Leicester. They flattered to deceive in my opinion at points and completely failed to turn up in the first half of the Premiership play-off semi-final at Saracens. Having said that they did very nearly make the Champions Cup final, losing narrowly to Racing in the semi-final at the City Ground.

They have a strong squad, have no-one of any huge consequence, and in Toomua and Pietersen they have two international backs of huge experience. The fitness of Manu Tuilagi will be the main squad based issue that needs addressing, as when fit he is a powerful weapon. Pietersen has been brought in to replace Goneva (8 tries last season). Strong at home, having the joint best home record in the league last season, they were poor away, losing 8 times and only winning 3. That will be a major target for improvement this time around I am sure.

They also averaged the most points scored per game at home (30) whilst being defensively poor away from home, conceding on average 25 points (joint 3rd worst record in the league). They also came an unwanted 3rd in the yellow cards table.


 

Newcastle Rugby

INS: Joshua Chisanga (from Kenya Sevens), Vereniki Goneva (from Leicester Tigers), Sam Lockwood (from Jersey), Sam Egerton (from England Sevens), Harrison Orr (from Ealing Trailfinders), Joel Hodgson (from Yorkshire Carnegie), Ben Sowrey (from Worcester Warriors), Evan Olmstead (from London Scottish), David Tameilau (from San Francisco Rush), Nick Civetta (from RC I Medicei), Andrew Davidson (from Glasgow Hawks), Kyle Cooper (from Sharks), Tyrone Holmes (from Glasgow Warriors), Opeti Fonua (from Leicester Tigers).

OUTS: George McGuigan (to Leicester Tigers), Todd Clever (released), Andy Goode (retired), Rob Hawkins (retired), Richard Mayhew (to Yorkshire Carnegie), Joshua Furno (to Zebre), Kensuke Hatakeyama (to Suntory Sungoliath), Giovanbattista Venditti (to Zebre), Kane Thompson (to Manawatu), Eric Fry (to Sacramento Express), Ruki Tipuna (to Bay of Plenty), Jamie Booth (to Manawatu), Scott MacLeod (retired), Gonzalo Tiesi (retired), Alesana Tuilagi (released), Anitelea Tuilagi (released), Michael Cusack (to Yorkshire Carnegie).

FIXTURES

Sept 2 Sale H

Sept 10 Bath A

Sept 18 Leicester H

Sept 24 Gloucester A

Oct 2 Worcester A

Oct 8 Bristol H

Oct 30 Wasps A

Nov 18 Exeter H

Nov 26 Northampton A

Dec 4 Harlequins H

Dec 23/24/26 Saracens A

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Wasps H

Jan 8 Bath H

Feb 10 Sale A

Feb 19 Northampton H

Feb 25 Exeter A

March 5 Saracens H

March 25 Harlequins A

April 7 Gloucester H

April 15 Leicester A

April 28 Worcester H

May 6 Bristol A

ANALYSIS – Last season has to go down as a success for Newcastle given that they avoided relegation. Their survival was essentially founded on solid home form, winning five home games on their new artificial surface. They were poor away only drawing one game and losing ten. Their success relied on a strong forward pack, collectively one of the strongest in the league despite a lack of star names. Dean Richards has moulded the pack in his own image.

In terms of ins and outs there has been quite a high turnover. Goneva from Leicester is the biggest name coming in and they will be hoping that he can improve their try scoring capacity. Newcastle had the lowest average points score per game both at home (17) and away (16) in the whole league. The move to an artificial surface has not yet seen a wholesale change in their playing style or point scoring. There are a couple of interesting signings from the 7s circuit though.

You would have to be concerned for them again this season, on paper Bristol look a stronger outfit, so they could well be scrapping for their lives again. Their last two games of the season at home to Worcester and then away to Bristol on the last weekend could prove crucial.

 

Northampton Rugby

INS: Louis Picamoles (from Toulouse), Campese Ma’afu (from Provence), Charlie Clare (from Bedford Blues), Nic Groom (from Stormers), Juan Pablo Estelles (from Club Atletico del Rosario).

OUTS: Alex Corbisiero (sabbatical), Matt Williams (to Worcester Warriors), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (to London Irish), Patrick Howard (to Dragons), Kahn Fotuali’i (to Bath), Jon Fisher (to Bristol).

FIXTURES

Sept 3 Bath H

Sept 11 Bristol A

Sept 17 Saracens A

Sept 24 Wasps H

Sept 30 Exeter H

Oct 8 Harlequins A

Oct 28 Gloucester H

Nov 18 Worcester A

Nov 26 Newcastle H

Dec 3 Leicester A

Dec 23/24/26 Sale H

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Gloucester A

Jan 7 Bristol H

Feb 11 Bath A

Feb 19 Newcastle A

Feb 25 Worcester H

March 3 Sale A

March 25 Leicester H

April 9 Wasps A

April 15 Saracens H

April 29 Exeter A

May 6 Harlequins H

ANALYSIS – A frustrating season overall for the Saints last time around, with a 5th place finish in the league and losing to Saracens in the Champions Cup quarter-final. They have brought in Louis Picamoles who is undoubtedly a class act and will give them serious go-forward up front.

They were strong at home again, winning 8 and losing 3, but were not particularly high scoring, with an average of 23 points per game which only puts them 7th overall. They were strong defensively though, with the 2nd best defensive home record (average of 15 points conceded). The fact that Lee Dickson (scrum half) was their top tryscorer with 6 tries tells it’s own story.

They are another team who will be targeting a top 4 finish this time around.

 

Sale Rugby

INS: Rob Webber (from Bath), Laurence Pearce (from Leicester Tigers), Kieran Longbottom (from Saracens), Josh Charnley (from Wigan Warriors), AJ MacGinty (from Connacht), Dan Mugford (from Nottingham), Mike Phillips (from Racing 92), Halani Aulika (from London Irish), Lou Reed (from Cardiff Blues), Byron McGuigan (from Exeter Chiefs), Curtis Langdon (from London Irish).

OUTS: Vadim Cobilas (to Bordeaux Begles), Tommy Taylor (to Wasps), Danny Cipriani (to Wasps), Tom Brady (to Leicester Tigers), Phil Mackenzie (to San Diego Breakers), Nick Macleod (to Dragons), Joe Ford (to Yorkshire Carnegie), Chris Cusiter (retired), Mark Easter (retired), Viliami Fihaki (to Edinburgh Rugby).

FIXTURES

Sept 2 Newcastle A

Sept 9 Harlequins H

Sept 16 Gloucester H

Sept 24 Worcester A

Oct 1 Leicester H

Oct 7 Bath A

Oct 30 Bristol A

Nov 20 Saracens H

Nov 27 Wasps A

Dec 2 Exeter H

Dec 23/24/26 Northampton A

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Bristol H

Jan 7 Harlequins A

Feb 10 Newcastle H

Feb 17 Wasps H

Feb 25 Saracens A

March 3 Northampton H

March 25 Exeter A

April 7 Worcester H

April 15 Gloucester A

April 29 Leicester A

May 6 Bath H

ANALYSIS – Sale had a great season last time around, reaching the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and finishing 6th and securing qualification for the Champions Cup. Danny Cipriani has gone to Wasps, but in his place they have made a range of decent signings in the form of McGinty, Webber, Charnley and Phillips.

They were very strong at home, only losing 1 game, but really struggled away from home, only picking up two wins. If they can maintain their strength at home and improve away, they will fancy their chances of maintaining their top 6 position. Lots will be made of Cipriani’s absence, but his kicking % was only 62%.

Sale had the best disciplinary record in the whole league last season, picking up just 5 yellow cards (just 1 at home). They have some good young players and it will be interesting to see their development continue this season.

 

Saracens Rugby

INS: Schalk Burger (from Stormers), Alex Lozowski (from Wasps), Savenaca Rawaca (from Fiji Sevens), Mark Flanagan (from Bedford Blues), Sean Maitland (from London Irish), Vincent Koch (from Stormers).

OUTS: Charlie Hodgson (retired), Rhys Gill (to Cardiff Blues), Catalin Fercu (to Timisoara Saracens), Kieran Longbottom (to Sale Sharks), Dave Porecki (to London Irish), Jacques Burger (retired), Aaron Morris (to Harlequins), Thretton Palamo (to Bristol), Biyi Alo (to Worcester Warriors), Ben Ransom (to London Irish).

FIXTURES

Sept 3 Worcester H (Twickenham Stadium)

Sept 11 Exeter A

Sept 17 Northampton H

Sept 24 Harlequins A

Sept 30 Bristol A

Oct 9 Wasps H

Oct 29 Leicester H

Nov 20 Sale A

Nov 26 Gloucester H

Dec 3 Bath A

Dec 23/24/26 Newcastle H

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Leicester A

Jan 7 Exeter H

Feb 11 Worcester A

Feb 18 Gloucester A

Feb 25 Sale H

March 5 Newcastle A

March 25 Bath H

April 8 Harlequins H (Wembley Stadium)

April 15 Northampton A

April 29 Bristol H

May 6 Wasps A

ANALYSIS – The all-conquering double winners from last season look just as strong this time around. They have lost Hodgson and Burger, but look to have actually strengthened the squad overall. They really tweaked their playing style to add some expansive play to their more traditional steam-roller.

They were very strong again at home, losing just twice and had by far the best away record in the league, winning 8 and drawing 1. This away record was based on an outstanding defence, with just an average of 17 points conceded per game.

Their disciplinary record was again excellent – they had the third best record with just 6 yellow cards all season. I can’t see anything other than them having a real go at repeating last season. They have the best squad depth, the best game plan and now have the confidence that they can win the double.

 

Wasps Rugby

INS: Marty Moore (from Leinster), Tommy Taylor (from Sale Sharks), Danny Cipriani (from Sale Sharks), Tom Cruse (from London Irish), Guy Armitage (from London Welsh), Craig Hampson (from Bristol), Tom Woolstencroft (from Bath), Marcus Garratt (from Cornish Pirates), Kurtley Beale (from NSW Waratahs), Matt Symons (from London Irish), Nick de Luca (from Biarritz), Kyle Eastmond (from Bath), Willie le Roux (from Sharks).

OUTS: Charles Piutau (to Ulster), Alex Lozowski (to Saracens), George Smith (to Suntory Sungoliath/Queensland Reds), Jamie Stevenson (to London Scottish), Ed Shervington (retired), Ruaridh Jackson (to Harlequins), Bradley Davies (to Ospreys), James Downey (retired), Ben Jacobs (retired), Carlo Festuccia (to Zebre), Andrea Masi (retired), Lorenzo Cittadini (to Bayonne).

FIXTURES

Sept 4 Exeter H

Sept 10 Leicester A

Sept 18 Bristol H

Sept 24 Northampton A

Oct 2 Harlequins H

Oct 9 Saracens A

Oct 30 Newcastle H

Nov 19 Gloucester A

Nov 27 Sale H

Dec 3 Worcester A

Dec 23/24/26 Bath H

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Newcastle A

Jan 8 Leicester H

Feb 11 Exeter A

Feb 17 Sale A

Feb 26 Gloucester H

March 4 Bath A

March 26 Worcester H

April 9 Northampton H

April 16 Bristol A

April 29 Harlequins A

May 6 Saracens H

ANALYSIS – A season that promised so much eventually ended in disappointment for Wasps. They lost in both the semi-final of the Premiership and the semi-final of the Champions Cup. They did however play some outstanding rugby and on their day have the ability to blow anyone  away as their destruction of Saracens in the league at Allianz Park demonstrates.

Charles Piutau and George Smith will be missed, but Wasps have probably made the best set of signings in the entire league. Cipriani, Beale (when fit), Eastmond and Le Roux will take an already exciting backline to the next level, and their forwards still look a strong unit.

They had the second best home record in the league last season, losing just twice, and the second best away record. They also had the joint best disciplinary record, receiving only 5 yellow cards all season. I can’t see anything other than a really strong year from them again.

 

Worcester Rugby

INS: Ben Te’o (from Leinster), Jackson Willison (from Grenoble), Will Spencer (from Bath), Marco Mama (from Bristol), Perry Humphreys (promoted from Academy), Dewald Potgieter (from Yamaha Júbilo), Matt Williams (from Northampton Saints), Francois Hougaard (from South Africa Sevens), Biyi Alo (from Saracens), Alafoti Fa’osiliva (from Bath).

OUTS: Darren O’Shea (to Munster), Charlie Mulchrone (to Harlequins), Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier (to Nevers), Ben Sowrey (to Newcastle Falcons), Heath Stevens (to London Welsh), Joe Rees (to Rotherham Titans), Andy Symons (to Gloucester), Alex Grove (to Birmingham Moseley), Ravai Fatiaki (released), Dan George (released), Matt Gilbert (to Hartpury College RFC), Dan Sanderson (to Yorkshire Carnegie), Sam Smith (retired).

FIXTURES

Sept 3 Saracens A (Twickenham Stadium)

Sept 9 Gloucester H

Sept 17 Bath A

Sept 24 Sale H

Oct 2 Newcastle H

Oct 8 Leicester A

Oct 29 Harlequins A

Nov 18 Northampton H

Nov 26 Exeter A

Dec 3 Wasps H

Dec 23/24/26 Bristol A

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Harlequins H

Jan 7 Gloucester A

Feb 11 Saracens H

Feb 18 Exeter H

Feb 25 Northampton A

March 4 Bristol H

March 26 Wasps A

April 7 Sale A

April 15 Bath H

April 28 Newcastle A

May 6 Leicester H

WORCESTER

Sept 3 Saracens A (Twickenham Stadium)

Sept 9 Gloucester H

Sept 17 Bath A

Sept 24 Sale H

Oct 2 Newcastle H

Oct 8 Leicester A

Oct 29 Harlequins A

Nov 18 Northampton H

Nov 26 Exeter A

Dec 3 Wasps H

Dec 23/24/26 Bristol A

Dec 30/31/Jan 1 2017 Harlequins H

Jan 7 Gloucester A

Feb 11 Saracens H

Feb 18 Exeter H

Feb 25 Northampton A

March 4 Bristol H

March 26 Wasps A

April 7 Sale A

April 15 Bath H

April 28 Newcastle A

May 6 Leicester H

ANALYSIS – Another team I know well, who were disappointed with how last season turned out. They recruited well, and I know Dean Ryan was disappointed that they got themselves into a relegation scrap. He has now left the club and Carl Hogg has been promoted as his replacement.

I think they are better on paper than their finishing position showed and have recruited well again. Ben Te’o is excellent, Mama is good, and Hougaard made a real impact last season. The Worcester academy is outstanding I know they have some really well thought of youngsters coming through.

Hogg will undoubtedly want to change a few things this season. His first priority will be the defence; Worcester conceded an average of 25 points a game at home (2nd worst in the league) and an average of 29 points a game away (the worst in the league). They also had the second worst disciplinary record, collecting a total of 14 yellow cards over the season.

They have joined Saracens and Newcastle in installing an artificial pitch at Sixways for the new season – theirs is an upgrade on the surface used at Saracens and Newcastle though, being based on an organic infill rather than rubber crumb. You would expect their backs to enjoy playing on it rather more than the old Sixways turf. Wingers Vuna and Heem (top scorers last season with 9 and 7 respectively) will be relishing it.

 

Betting Angles:

Aviva Premiership Odds

Aviva Premiership Odds

Aviva Premiership Relegation Odds

Saracens to win again does seem a decent bet at 2.6, however it’s a long time to tie up your money for. If you have a lump sum in a savings account I can’t think of a better place to make 5% interest between now and May by backing them to finish in the top 4.

The relegation odds are interesting for me. I have Worcester as the third worst team this year. Bristol will find it tough but I have it between them and Newcastle, and Newcastle at 4/1 jumps off the page at me, although tactically it might be worth seeing how Bristol get on in their first five games and getting much bigger odds on Newcastle if Bristol have a bad start.

Rugby Betting Weekend Review Sep21-23rd

Rugby betting Review – Premiership Rugby, Rabo direct Pro12, Top 14, Sep21-23rd 2012

Rugby Betting Weekend Review – English Premiership Round 4.

Aviva Premiership Rugby Results
Sale 19-29 London Welsh
Gloucester 29-22 Wasps
Leicester 9-22 Harlequins
London Irish 29-22 Bath
Northampton 37-31 Worcester
Exeter 14-12 Saracens

We had an excellent weekend of Aviva Premiership betting, with four of our five main bets coming in. You can see that betting preview here.

On Friday London Welsh rode the good feeling from beating Exeter last week to shock alot of people by not only staying within the 13 point start, but also by putting the bookies predictions off by a total of 23 points by winning 29-19. The +13 on Welsh was our tip for this game. They stormed into a big lead and Sale had no answer, with complacency looking to be the main culprit. Sale are now four losses from four and look set to miss out on the top 6 even at this early stage. Away to Bath next week, their woes look set to continue. London Welsh are at home to Gloucester and that could be a tricky game to call.

Gloucester beat Wasps 29-22 and we had tipped the Gloucester -4. Gloucester should have been 15-20 points ahead in this game by half time but inability to convert and sloppy passing meant they kept Wasps in it. Wasps just about deserved the bonus point. Had you been viewing our forum, you would have picked up on the Elliot Daly anytime tryscorer tip, which came in at 4/1 when he scored a brilliant individual try. Small note on Gloucester- Ben Morgan looks to be set for a more defensive role than England use him for. Quite often he’s the man clearing out rucks and securing ball as opposed to attacking and standing in the backline, so stay away from the tryscorer bets on him for a while.

Harlequins beat Leicester by 13 points in the big game of the weekend, and we had tipped Quins +7 very strongly. This was our biggest paying game for the weekend, with the predicted Quins ht/ft also landing at 7/2. The 1-12 punt was out by a point as the margin finished up on 13, but we were more than happy with our 2 hours work! Tigers had no answer to the more settled Quins side, and they missed Tuilagi and Waldrom starting as we mentioned. Leicester play Exeter next week and expect them to bounce back in a big way in an attempt to put this game behind them, and as revenge for the beating they got down there towards the end of last season. Quins are at home to Saracens and Quins should take that one too.

Just a note on the Premiership outright market– Quins are a biggest 9/4 (2/1 elsewhere) in Skybet to finish the Regular season top of the pile and with 19 points from 20 they look the strong favourites to top the league table yet again. Despite this they are still joint favourites with Leicester, who they have just comprehensively beaten away from home. The biggest you can get for them to win the league is only 11/4, so you’re definitely better off backing them to win the regular season (i.e.top of the league before the playoffs, like they were last year). If you fancy a long term punt this is one of the best by far we’ve seen so far this season, and the 9/4 surely won’t be there after they play a Saracens team in the doldrums next week (if they win). You can get a free no deposit needed ten pound/euro bet by clicking this Skybet link. Skybet are the only sportsbook giving you a free sports bet for no money down these days.

Moving on, London Irish made us very happy with a 29-22 win that brought home both of our tips for this game – London Irish +2 and London Irish for the straight win at 6/4. It was the backline that made the difference here with Humphreys able to run it much better than Shingler, with Tomas O Leary having a good game too. It felt slightly risking backing a team that had conceded 123 points in three games but we were confident they had the tools in place to beat a Bath side that has yet to finish turning the corner.

Our pick on Northampton was to take the -14 and we lost this one, with Northampton only winning 37-31. We got everything right about this game except the last 20 minutes. We picked out that Burrell would have a big game running at a disjointed Worcester line with Carlisle at centre and that proved to the case with him scoring two tries in five minutes. Unbelievably, Northampton led by 37-3 at one point in this game, and to be frank we were already counting our money when disaster struck. Northampton saw that they had the bonus point, and simply ceased competing for anything. Credit to Worcester for scoring four tries in the second half but this was an abject final 30 minute Northampton display and one that re-enforces the notion that many have, that they’re just not a champion side. Although Leicester did let Worcester back into it a little a few weeks back, so it’s possible we’re not giving Worcester enough credit. Either way, I’m sure Mallinder was furious. The lesson for us all here is stay away from large Northampton handicaps. Over the past couple of years, there’s noticeably something unpredictably different in the psychology of this Northampton team compared to other teams in Europe. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is for us punters. Avoid big Northampton handicaps at all costs- they either struggle to get the bonus point try, or pack up the effort when 5 points are in the bag.

We were a bit hazy on the Exeter v Saracens game with the looming torrential rain, opting mainly to go for a small punt on the half time exeter/full time Saracens at 13/2. And it was almost the perfect bet but for some questionable decision making from Saracens players and coaching staff in the second half. We roughly predicted the general chain of events in this game, with Farrell kicking waywardly and a strong bench coming on in the second half. The problem was that Hodgson wasn’t brought on to kick until the final fifteen minutes; five minutes after Farrell had missed yet another potential game-winning penalty that was very kickable. Then, in the endgame 8 metres out (remember it was pissing rain and blowing a gale at this point and no time for elaborate passing) Brits crazily decides to duck inside two tackles and try a miracle pass round the corner to Borthwick that Sammy-sticky-hands would have had trouble holding on to. This was all despite Hodgson standing back waiting for the drop goal pass, in acres of space 22 metres out. Baffling stuff really, and there looks to be too many chiefs and not enough Indians at Saracens because somebody should have showed some leadership and said we’re going for the easy-enough drop goal. Hodgson is well capable and it would have won them the game.
(Ps- Sammy sticky hands is a fictional character entirely made up here for descriptive purposes. Any resemblance to childhood friends in the real world is wholly co-incidental)

But despite the fact that Brits’ scrumcap may be too tight, and he can’t do his sums (going for a try when they only needed three points), this loss was down to McCall yet again persisting with picking Farrell to kick penalties. We’ve been banging this drum since June and we’ll bang it again- his passing and kicking is woeful and has been for the past four months. You have to question what on earth McCall is at when he’s starting him in hugely pressurised environments like last week in a huge game v leicester Tigers (where he missed five easy penalties), and this week away at a tough Exeter side. The management have got three points from the past two weeks when they would have had eight had Hodgson started. The moral here is that Sarries management is getting rotation all wrong (leaving Borthwick and other senior players on the bench from the start yesterday) and getting the Owen Farrell rehabilitation all wrong. If he starts Farrell away at Quins next week (which he probably will, to keep heaping pressure on the kid), then it’s hard to see anything other than a Quins win.

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting community to join the discussion and contribute. You can choose your own team/country crest, and everyone’s views will help to build up a better picture on individual games. Lurkers unite, and contribute!

Rugby Betting Review

Rugby betting Review – Rabo direct Pro12, Top 14, Premiership Rugby

Rugby Betting Review Aug 31 – Sep 2nd. Last weekend was a tough one that emphasised a need to possibly ease off for this coming weekend, and see how things start to pan out. We had some good wins beside some very close run losses that mainly boiled down to poor individual kicking displays (Toulouse/ Ospreys for example). There were some massive scores put up in all three domestic leagues, and it’s hard to tell whether there will be a reaction by the vanquished teams or more of the same. So this weekend is one we’ll mostly be taking a break on, to let some form develop and see how things settle.

Rugby Betting Review – Rabodirect Pro12 Round 1

Friday, 31 August 2012
RaboDirect PRO12 Results
Newport-Gwent D’gons 37-6 Zebre
Treviso 12-6 Ospreys
Ulster 18-10 Glasgow
Saturday, 1 September 2012
RaboDirect PRO12
Connacht 9-13 Cardiff Blues
Edinburgh 18-23 Munster
Scarlets 45-20 Leinster

Starting with a look back at the Rabo– we covered Friday night’s results in our Rugby betting review here. An intercept try killed our Glasgow punt of +5 , and Ulster looked better than anticipated winning out 18-10 in a game which was mostly played in the middle third. The most we can take from this opening game was that Glasgow are missing Lineen, as they didn’t have much of the steel of last year on show here. Ulster on the other hand looked excellent for a team with so many new recruits, and things look positive for them. In season’s past this was a game you could easily have seen them slip up in, but they answered that notion with a good performance. Nick Williams should be watched for first and anytime tryscoring bets every game this season.

We probably said enough about the Ospreys who lost 12-6 (killing our 1-12 bet)- but we’d like to once again thank Dan Biggar for missing three handy kicks, and helping butcher two tryscoring chances in a second half that saw Treviso not score once, and somehow win this game. This one was one to forget really, the only possible note to pull from it is that Treviso are very limited.

The Dragons hammered Zebre 37 -6. We got this one badly wrong, with the score being 20-0 after under 20 minutes. In our defence, we felt this would be a game that the new Zebre team would target. Unfortunately they didn’t share our ambition and were beaten by an ordinary enough Dragon’s side. Zebre look to be adopting the French tactic of only targeting home games then- and should be good to be hammered away from home for the forseeable. They play Connacht at home this Friday – avoid that one like the plague. One positive point for Zebre is that they let no more tries past them in the second half.

Munster beat Edinburgh 23 – 18 in an excellent away win. The excellent value of Munster +5 was highlighted in our rugby betting forum a few hours before the game. We still can’t quite work out how Edinburgh beat Toulouse in the Heineken Quarters last year (if you forget about Matanavou- who is somehow still starting for Toulouse). Visser scored three tries and looks to have the top try-scorer award nailed down already. LuaLua and Downey were excellent in the centres, and that’s a great sign for Munster. Anyone who remembers Trevor Halstead and Rua Tipoki will bear witness to the fact that Munster with a decent centre partnership are a different animal completely to the one of the past three/four years. They defied pre-season form here to look resolute in defence and promisingly potent in attack. Could Munster be on the way back after four years of navigating choppy waters? We hope so- the Heineken Cup aint the same without a strong Munster side. Munster at home should beat Treviso well next week.

A very young, very green Leinster side with an academy bench was hammered away 45- 20 at a full strength Scarlets side. Not much to be taken from this game Scarlet’s-wise- Manchild North won’t play much for the Scarlets this season as he’ll be either injured or off with the Welsh camp; they tend to bottle it when it matters (witness last season when they had quite an easy route of home games to the playoffs and threw it all away; and this was nowhere near a first team opposition. We’ll have to wait and see in the weeks ahead if there has been any real change at the Scarlets. Leinster play the Dragons next week and you’d expect a slightly undercooked handicap after the Dragons big win. Leinster almost always lose their first game of the season, expect them to bounce back in a big way next week.

Cardiff beat Connacht away from home 13 -9 in an apparently dour affair. This was a big step back for Connacht- Cardiff got the wind in the first half and Connacht couldn’t do a thing with it in the second. Half the rugby betting world was on Connacht on the handicap and the straight win, so they made alot of enemies this weekend!
Beware the Scorned Punter Association Connacht- we’re not to be trifled with – we’ll graffiti your misspelled name in high-street bookies up and down the land, calling your mothers hamsters, and remarking that your fathers smell of elderberries. Beware!

Rugby Betting Review – Top 14 round three

3e Journée Top 14 Results
01/09/2012
Mont-de-Marsan 15 – 29 Rugby Club Toulonnais
Castres 31 – 10 Aviron Bayonnais
ASM Clermont 53 – 31 USAP
Montpellier 32 – 15 SU Agen
Racing Métro 18 – 7 Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Biarritz 22 – 17 Stade Toulousain
31/08/2012
Grenoble 26 – 12 Stade Français

We had a great start to our Top 14 betting with Grenoble beating Stade Francais comfortably as tipped in our TOP 14 betting Preview on Thursday last. We were particularly happy we dodged the 1-12 as mentioned in our Friday night betting review. Stade Francais proved to be flaky as pie on the road, and we made a nice profit.

On Saturday, Biarritz beat Toulouse 22-17 to scupper our Toulouse +3 bet. This one was similar to the Ospreys bet that went awry, with the normally reliable Lionel Beauxis missing three kicks that were real gimmes. Aside from that, Toulouse still looked to be missing an awful lot of tackles, and couldn’t be backed with any confidence to beat handicaps for a while. Biarritz won, but it will take a few more wins to convince us that they warrant investment- they had two easy opening wins, and had Beauxis been on even average form, they would have lost this game.

We called Perpignan +14 and they lost 53-31 at Clermont. They lost Nicolas Mas in the first ten minutes and things went downhill from there (they are currently in a frantic search for a replacement on the black market). They also made a few changes to their starting lineup but in truth, Clermont just ran away with this early and never looked back. Clermont still have injuries, and Perpignan were after two hard fought losses, so don’t draw too many conclusions from this result.

In the other games that we stayed away from betting on, some points of note were;

Racing Metro won 18 -7 but have serious try-scoring problems. They couldn’t get near the whitewash in a game they dominated. We saw most of this game, and Bordeaux got an amazing score at the death from their own 22 with passes being flung everywhere. The fight from last season is still there, so they’re not to be underestimated.

Castres won v Bayonne 31-10, and they look very good again this season.

Toulon beat the handicap (as tipped in our forum) winning 29-15 away to Mont de Marsan. We’re glad we stayed away here as we would have backed the 1-12 Toulon. As mentioned last week, Toulon are our favourites for the TOP 14 title this year, and we said last week that the 13/4 available is great value. It’s now into biggest 5/2 across the board. Toulon’s opening three wins (two away) will make ominous viewing for the rest of the league.

Rugby Betting Review – English Premiership Round 1.

Saturday, 1 September 2012
Aviva Premiership Rugby Results
Exeter 43-6 Sale
Gloucester 19-24 Northampton
Saracens 40-3 London Irish
Wasps 40-42 Harlequins
Worcester 23-24 Bath
London Welsh 13-38 Leicester

We were kicking ourselves at the end of the day on Saturday. We had won on both of our main picks, but ignored all first try scorer bets, much to our chagrin. Chris Ashton for Saracens and Wade for Wasps both scored the first tries, and we had singled them out specifically in our premiership rugby betting preview last week as men to watch. We even went so far to say Wade would turn George Lowe inside out and he did just that for the entire game. We profited from Wade during the summer in South Africa but this was a big opportunity lost, and lessons have been learned for next time. Wade looks even better than last season, and he’ll be well watched by opposition teams. Varndell might be the man to look at for first try scorer rugby betting if his price is considerably bigger, as he’ll slip under the radar and he fed alot of what Wade did on Saturday.

Quins came from 20 and 27 points down to beat Wasps by 42-40 in a cracking game to watch. Quite what Quins were up to for all of Wasps’ scored is up for debate – they probably thought they only had to show up to win. They were cut to shreds time after time and they’ll be beat a couple of times before Christmas that’s for sure. There is very little else can be taken from this game other than Lowe is easily turned on the wing, and that Wasps won’t be fighting relegation this year as there’s just too much quality there. Our 1-12 Harlequins pick came in nicely as mentioned in the above preview.

Saracens duly obliged us aswell beating London Irish by 40 points to 3 and romping hime our -8 handicap pick. You can read the preview above- everything happened as we figured, as Sarries took advantage of a rejigged and dangerously unbalanced London Irish back line. Saracens look set up for a good season, and it’s them, Leicester and Quins who’ll be in the shakeup. London Irish look set for mid-table mediocrity once again.

We didn’t see the other games, but we listened to Gloucester getting beat by Northampton 24-19 on the BBC, and picked up a few highlights. By the sounds of it Northampton didn’t really have to do much for this win, and it really sounded like an adult playing against a child at times. Gloucester seemed to have to work so hard to get anywhere near the try line, and Northampton seemed to ghost through whenever they pleased. Another tough season for Gloucester ahead it seems, they don’t seem to have the pack or the defence to be serious challengers for anything.

Bath snuck past Worcester on the hooter to win 24-23, with Barkely as predicted kicking well. Not much to be learned here really.

Exeter hammered Sale 43-6, and it looks like Tom Hayes won the battle between himself and Richie Gray that we wanted to see. Sale players have been torn apart publicly by their management this week, and i’m not sure that will help. Congratulations to Chris Budgeon who got the last try- we missed that on the highlights, but i’d say there was some cheer in Sandy park for that one.

Leicester beat London Welsh on Sunday to beat a very big handicap of 16 away from home. We’ll learn more on both of them next week. As long as this good weather keeps up we can see every team that can going after as many tries as possible.

Going easy next week on the rugby betting to get a better picture of things as mentioned, but we’ll have a few small picks up on Thursday and maybe tomorrow evening on the early prices.

Don’t forget our rugby betting forum is open, and in need of more contributors.

Friday night Rugby Betting Report

Rabodirect Pro12 Result – Ulster 18 Glasgow 10

A bit of a nothing game this- Glasgow got it back to within five minutes with 15 to go then stupidly threw the ball away in a promising attack on the Ulster 10 metre line, 5 minutes from time. The game was very much in the balance until the 44th minute but Glasgow were far too predictable in attack. Gilroy spotted the telegraphed pass, intercepted, and scored at the other end. Glasgow had no lineout all game and had to go long to secure ball and they had a yellow card given against them that didnt help matters in the first half.

The Ulster pack were impressive enough, with Jared Payne doing well in the backline. You couldn’t see them winning anything this year, but you never know. Glasgow seem to be missing former coach Lineen more than we thought they would, and we’ll need to see Ulster play better opposition before we see where they are. They have injuries to come back though, so maybe things look a bit brighter for Ulster than they initially did to us.

One note for our tipped first tryscorer pick Nick WIlliams-he was everywhere for the fist 40 minutes, playing more actual rugby tonight that he did for the entire season last year for Aironi! Unfortunately for us, he was over the try line in the first half but dropped the ball and knocked on.

Booh!

(Nick Williams was everywhere for the fist 40 minutes- he played more rugby tonight that he did for the entire season last year for Aironi!)

Rabodirect Pro12 Result – Treviso 12, Ospreys 6

It’s very easy to moan about officials when a punt doesn’t go your way……….. and it was even easier tonight watching this game! The rain came down in this one, and it really wasn’t the Ospreys night. Treviso scored all of their points in the first half with a good wind behind them, while the Ospreys knocked on countless times all game. The refereeing was questionable (as predicted) by Lacy and the three Italian officials, especially after they reduced the Ospreys to 14 men after thirty odd minutes after a second yellow card for Evans. The first one was a bit harsh, and the second was definitely a tough call.

Still, you felt the Ospreys were still in it and amazingly Biggar missed three easy enough kicks that in the second half. He missed them by a fair bit aswell, it was quite..er, strange. The Ospreys butchered two or three try chances in wave after wave of rusty attack as they played all the rugby (Biggar the culprit again in one cock-up for a silly inside pass when the outside ball was the pass). The Ospreys also had one effort go to the Italian TMO. He was over the line but you couldn’t see it on the replay. No surprise it wasn’t given really.

When it’s not your night, it’s not your night.

The Dragons hammered Zebre, as we said probably one to swerve, and glad we did. (though we were still leaning towards Zebre +12). Long season ahead for Zebre if that Dragons side was hammering them.

Grenoble beat Stade Francais 26-12 to complete the night for us, beating the tipped handicap well and giving us one win from three on our main bets. We didn’t see much of the game, but what we did see was Stade Francais lacking any real bite and being turned over in attack by a fired up home team backed by a hostile crowd. We had a long look at the 1-12 just before kick off to supplement our main bet, and we’re glad we left it alone and listened to our own advice – as mentioned, you couldn’t back Stade Francais to ever keep it close away from home as they tend to lose the head and get frustrated.

There were a few contributors over on the forum who were on both Treviso and Ulster so congrats and kudos to them.

Rugby betting Weekend Review

Rugby Betting Review

 
 
 
 

Top 14 Results

SU Agen 19 – 25 Biarritz Olympique
Aviron Bayonnais 24 – 11 Stade Français
Castres Olympique 30 – 13 Grenoble
Montpellier Rugby 13 – 8 ASM Clermont
Stade Toulousain 37 – 22 Mont-de-Marsan
Racing Métro 92 21 – 23 Rugby Club Toulonnais
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 26 – 22 USAP

Rugby Championship results

New Zealand 22 – 0 Australia
Argentina 16 – 16 South Africa

TOP14 rugby betting review – Bordeaux v Perpignan, Racing Metro v Toulon, Montpellier v Clermont

Betting Picks; Perpignan +3 10/11, Toulon +4 10/11, Clermont +4 10/11

Perpignan were very disappointing on Friday night, just falling outside the +3 handicap. Anyone watching the game would have saw the complete lack of commitment at times from them, and yet they still should have won. We had them +3, and they lost 26-22. The man we singled out last week- Henry Tuilagi- started on Friday, having only come on as a replacement the previous week. He must have dropped about 8 knock-ons in attacking positions. Definitely an impact sub from now on (or at least he should be..). Perpignan stopped playing in the second half, but still managed to claw it back to 26-22 with ten minutes to go.

With Bordeaux reduced to 14 men on 74 minutes Hook could have converted an easy penalty to take it within one point. They didn’t though, and pushed for the try. Not only did it not happen, but the unthinkable happened next. With Bordeaux on their five yard line, and seven in their scrum to Perpignan’s eight, the referee gave Bordeaux a penalty, and yellow carded the Perpignan loose head! Even the French were saying it was incredible on commentary. France can be a strange place. One of the things we noticed on Friday was the distinct lack of real leadership in their side, and you can see them being on the end of some real hammerings this season when they fall apart.

Toulon did the needful and won this game for us, as well as surpass their handicap by 6 points, winning 23-21. Both the win and handicap we tipped earlier in the week came in (see bottom of this rugby betting review from last week). Both Toulon and Clermont did indeed shorten in paddypower into +2 from +4 as predicted in that preview. Despite this game often becoming a slug-fest, there were a couple of exquisite tries that I would urge you to get your hands on (we’ll be adding video highlights soon on dropkickrugby, so next time this happens we’ll hopefully have a link ready as soon as weekends are over). Toulon fought back from 8 points down in the second half, and their greater experience and bench quality shone through.

There’s more whinging over Toulon and the referee in France this week- but take no notice- Toulon look more determined than ever this season. They’ll throw a half arsed attempt at the Heineken cup, but there’s no question that they mean to top the league this season and win the Top14 title after last year’s massive disappointment in the final that they had won but for a spilled pass. Most bookmakers have them as third favourites, but I make them joint top with Toulouse. And anyone watching Clermont and Toulouse the past two weeks will have them as favourites. The biggest you can get them at is 13/4 with Youwin (they’re 5/2 elsewhere) possibly not the worst long term investment for the season.

We didn’t see much of the Clermont game- all the streams were down but for one rabid Castres supporter who was kind enough to switch back and forth between the games. They, like Perpignan were just one point outside the handicap we picked for the game, and truth be told we were rather unfortunate to not get the win here. First, the Montpellier try was a simple intercept pass on the Clermont 22, and second- Clermont were twice on the line at the death but failed to ground the ball (both going to video referee). They were pushing for the try on both occasions, but when offered the penalty, they took it for the defensive bonus point, and to lose by 5.

One major point of note was the return from the Super15 of former Clermont top tryscorer Nalaga. He had a great game, always making ground. He and Nakaitaci created sheer magic from their own 22, back and forth between them, for the first chance that was held up on the line close to the final whistle. He’s definitely back and in form; he’s one of the things Clermont really needed and missed last season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was top tryscorer in the TOP14 this year. Regarding the loss, the Clermont injuries seem to be taking their toll, because they should have won this game, never mind just beating the handicap. We’ll put this stuttering performance down as a blip for now.

We saw bits and pieces of the other games and highlights. The Toulouse defeat of Stade Montois (37-22) looks far better than it was- they were losing into the last quarter- and don’t forget the handicap was -26 for this game. The Toulouse bench was the difference, but this poor showing, along with the one point win on the opening weekend, says approach with caution. Agen lost again, this time at home to a yachvilli-less Biarritz and they look to be in for a long season. They have two more tough away games in the next two weeks, and are not to be backed in an shape or form for the forseeable. Stade Francais continued their rubbish away from from last season- losing away to an average Bayonne side- no change there then. And like Toulouse, Castres’ defeat of Grenoble (31-13) looks alot healthier than it actually was. They stuttered along, not finishing chances, and Grenoble put up a good fight. We were a bit annoyed that our double (mentioned on twitter) didn’t come off- Toulouse 21-30, and Castres 11-20. Had Toulouse got the finger out a bit earlier, it would have been a nice bonus.

Rugby Championship Round 2- Argentina v South Africa, New Zealand v Australia Rugby Betting Review

We’ll start with South Africa’s capitulation up in Mendoza. Our main bet for this one was the South Africa -8, and to be honest, we still thought it would come in until the game reached the 50th minute and it became clear the Springboks hadn’t got a clue. It actually seemed like they had read our preview of the game last week and decided they just needed to turn up! They were falling off tackles from the start, hoofing the ball up in the air, letting the Argentinians wind them up…I could go on, but I won’t. We also got the altitude factor wrong (was this why the Springboks seemed so relaxed?), when we said it would hurt the Argentinians. On the contrary, they looked supercharged.

One thing should have won this game for Argentina and that was sheer hunger- they had it all, and South Africa had none of it. It was a shame for them they didn’t win. But they shot themselves in the foot by playing negative rugby for the last fifteen minutes. It was far too early for that kind of thing, and it cost them an historic win. We still don’t see them winning any games except maybe beating Australia at home. But the Aussies won’t want to be the first of the big three to succumb to a loss, and we’d expect a typical hard nosed Aussie attitude to put Argentina away with some unexpected style.

Looking at the tournament on the whole, this pretty much guarantees a New Zealand tournament victory unless South Africa can beat them at home and away. I believe they can do them at home (new Zealand don’t look invincible), but an away victory seems a tall order unless they get a few injuries back, and a whole new gameplan from Meyer. Bulls rugby doesn’t work anymore.

New Zealand
beat our tipped handicap of -13 as mentioned in the Rugby championship betting preview last week and then some, winning out 22-0 in the end. The game pretty much went as advised, so there’s no need to go too deeply into it. Australia came out with pride in mind and defended manfully long after the game was lost. There’s some hope there for them yet, and they’ll probably win both games against Argentina.

Despite being happy with the main bet winning, we were left particularly ‘peeved’ at the end of the game. Had you read the preview, you would have seen our tip of -26 at 5/1 and -29 at 7/1. Could things have come any closer to getting over the 26 points in the last ten minutes?! First Richie McCaw is over the tryline, and only has to take the ball from his own man’s chest, and place it on the ground…yet he takes it and fumbles it and knocks it on. Then, to add insult to injury, Dan Carter only has to fall over the line on 79 minutes, and instead he throws a completely unnecessary hail mary pass to the wing when all he had to do was drop over the line……

The dog was lucky he was downstairs.

Dropkickrugby News

We’ll be opening our Rugby betting forum this week so be sure to join up and contribute. As far as we know we’ll be the only dedicated rugby betting forum around, and we’re looking to get as many people from around the rugby world as possible involved to give us all more insight and more chance of beating the odds.

Weekend Rugby Betting Review

Decent rugby betting weekend overall- and great to have some european club rugby back on the scene in the top14.

Australia 19, New Zealand 27

(Last week’s Preview here)This one worked out nicely; we were on the New Zealand -4 for our main course of the weekend, with a side salad of the New Zealand 1-12 winning margin. In truth we were slightly lucky to get the 1-12 aswell, as the Kiwi’s should have been long out of sight with ten minutes to go having butchered two gilt edged try scoring chances in the last 15 minutes. The All Blacks were in control for most of the match and never really hit top gear, and Australia just didn’t have enough in them to counter the tide. Much blame is falling on Kurtley Beale’s shoulders, but people forget that he has hardly played any rugby in the last three months. He came a bit more into it towards the end of the game and he’ll be instrumental in one or two games before this tournament is over.

Australia have however lost Pocock to injury for the rest of the rugby championship. That should really be the final nail in the coffin for anyone who had even fleeting thoughts of having a punt on the their now-massive price to win the rugby championship (22/1 sportingbet). Their main goal now will be not to finish below Argentina. On the other hand, New Zealand though impressive did not look invincible. I can’t quite put my finger on why they looked vulnerable, but they did. There was a hesitancy at times, or a lack of hunger that someone better than Australia would have exploited. And they’ll miss Money-Bill Williams after the next game v Australia when he heads to Japan – he played a big part in this victory.

Their price is gone in shorter still than it was pre-tournament (hovering around 1/5) and it’s far too short for anyone to be interested in – South Africa will still have a big say in how this championship turns out. In trying to understand why they’re gone in so much shorter (everyone surely expected them to beat Australia before the game anyway didn’t they?) it must be because South Africa didn’t get a try bonus point at home to Argentina, when everyone expects that New Zealand will. But they seem to be forgetting that New Zealand didn’t get one away from home v Australia either – something South Africa could do without too much of an imaginary leap. There’s the stink of noise trading about this whole thing- heavy hitters have obviously waded into New Zealand’s price, but I think the bookies are playing along and feeding into the trading sentiment by making the price look so much of a sure thing. South Africa meanwhile, have become even bigger value than the 5/1 mentioned here on Saturday afternoon.

South Africa 27, Argentina 6

(Last week’s Betting Preview here) The Handicap of -15 came in here for us nicely, with a big thanks to a re-invigorated Morne Steyn for landing all his kicks. You could see in the Super 15 closing stages that his form had turned around from the awful kicking of the June internationals (as mentioned on here), so it wasn’t too big of a surprise. South Africa are now out to a biggest price 11/2 in boylesports for the rugby championship win, (4/1 in places elsewhere, with ladbrokes still closest at 5/1). As mentioned above, this can only be because of the bonus point missed, and maybe (at a stretch) the Bismarck du Plessis injury??

This game was always going to be a forward based hit out, and so it proved. Argentina couldn’t make much ground and South Africa made loads but didn’t take advantage of it enough. Granted, they missed a trick by not getting the bonus point, but it was a good opening day win and i’d expect them to beat the -8 available in bet365 next week.

If you check out our rugby championship fixture table, you can see that this game is being played at altitude in Rosario, which is a MAJOR mistake in our reckoning. Why Argentina chose to play the one team in the tournament that are better at altitide than at sea level is far beyond my scope for reasoned thought and analysis…..there’s no other word that comes to mind other than ‘stupidity’. Why on earth not schedule the Australian/New Zealand game up there later in the tournament?!

A final note on Mvovo – our first tryscorer pick. He was quiet overall, and that was to be expected in this kind of game. But the ball was always going to go wide eventually, and we were a whisker away from the first try scorer bet winning here. Unmarked as the last man out ,with a free run to the line when Kirchner ignored him and chose to go through two tackles and score himself. So close!

Top14 Rugby betting review

(From Top14 preview here)

18/08/2012
USAP 15 – 21 Rugby Club Toulonnais
Aviron Bayonnais 6 – 13 ASM Clermont
SU Agen 20 – 24 Racing Métro 92
Biarritz Olympique 35 – 10 Mont-de-Marsan
Union Bordeaux-Bègles 28 – 29 Grenoble
Stade Français 32 – 16 Montpellier Hérault Rugby
Stade Toulousain 23 – 22 Castres Olympique

Well, both accumulators came a cropper, with Bordeaux Begles ruining the first one (losing by a point) and Agen also contributing to the downfall of the second one. But a few of the side bets came in to put a better shine on things. We didn’t see all of the games; the ones we saw bits of are below along with a bit of speculation on the other games.

Toulouse snuck home by a point versus Castres, landing the 1-12 winning margin we tipped at 7/4. There wasn’t much to take from this game other than Roman Poite has completely lost any credibility in our eyes(what little he had left). We’ve been watching him for the past two seasons and he never looks happy to be working, always looks like he couldn’t be arsed, and he lost control of this game before it was 20 minutes old. He then gave three yellow cards that really messed the game up, at least two of which were laughable to say the very least.

On the teams- Castres looked strong and resolute, and well up for it this season, with former Sharks and Lions man Kockott having an excellent game at scrumhalf. Toulouse looked ominously good at times, and despite only winning by a point, you always felt they were in control and would increase the intensity and score when they needed to. There seemed a real intent to move the ball through the hands when space opened up. Though it didn’t happen much, there were two occasions where Toulouse showed absolutely incredible handling- making 60 metres each time in moves involving seven or eight players. That said to us that they’re looking to move away from the drudge-fest that their rugby has become in recent years. They have no doubt realised that they’ll need to up their game after last year’s Heineken cup rugby quarter final disaster (disaster by their standards), and they’ve definitely shown intent already as far as we’re concerned.

Toulon beat Perpignan 21-16, in a game with no tries. Toulon looked good here, and so did Perpignan – i had anticipated it would take time for their new players to gel but that wasn’t the case. Toulon looked in control but toward the end of the game they just stopped playing, and were slightly lucky to hold on to the win. Perpignan won’t have another stinker like last season, that’s clear already. The mentioned Toulon +3 worked out quite well in the end, so we were happy enough.

Stade Francais beat Montpellier 32-16. We saw bits of this game. The home win was never in doubt, and we had it in the failed accumulator. Stade were good, but Montpellier were woeful and lacked passion and motivation. There wasn’t much to be gleaned from this game other than Stade are looking better than last year, and Monty are missing their Argie stars more than expected.

Agen lost to Racing Metro by four points, despite Racing being down to thirteen men for a time due to yellow cards. We saw about half of this game. Racing impressed, and Agen let the accumulator down. C’est la vie eh? But Agen were missing any sort of penetration whatsoever, with their full-back Tian making countless handling errors. Tian is one of their better and most important players, and the groans from the crowd every time he got the ball and dropped it were funny towards the end of the game. But you had to feel sorry for him – all Agen were doing was giving him the ball and watching him run into brick walls in the Racing defense. Early days, but Racing looked good fighting back into the game a couple of times from behind, and Agen look on dodgy ground already with very little spark around the team.

Bordeaux lost at home to new boys Grenoble by a point. Saw none of the game. Bordeaux were 14 points behind quite early in the game and fought back into it only to lose it in the end. Curses aplenty for Bordeaux on Saturday!

Biarritz hammered Mont de marsan, as expected by everyone. Nothing to be learned here as Mont De marsan had pretty much already said they were taking it easy for their first two games. Importantly however, Biarritz have lost Yachvilli for 3 months to injury and that’s a huge blow. Another year of missing the playoffs for Biarritz then quite possibly- he really is that important to them.

We only saw bits of Clermont v Bayonne. Clermont looked strong, and Bayonne lacked incision. It was a bit of a dull game, with Clermont’s extra class winning out and just doing what was needed. But Bayonne were worse than the scoreline suggests and we were a fair bit off siding with them for the +3 handicap. They were fighting against the yellow tide for most of this match, and Parra was instrumental in keeping them pinned down.

Looking to next week’s top14 rugby, and there’s prices out already in Paddypower (one of the reasons we like them in our paddy power review). Quite interestingly, Clermont are 7/4 away to Montpellier, and +4 on the handicap at 10/11, and Toulon are 6/4 and +4 at 10/11 away to Racing Metro.
When we first saw this we thought it was possibly a mistake, because Montpellier were pretty bad last week, and Racing Metro were up against a poor Agen side. But it’s still up there. We make Toulon and Clermont better than both of these sides, so we’re already on the straight wins, the handicaps, and the double win. It’s hard to see how Clermont are +4 to beat Montpellier away from home, considering how many players Montpellier are missing. And likewise, it’s hard to see why Toulon are +4 away to a Racing Metro side that are not just not in their class.

Main early recommendation here is the +4 at 10/11 for both Clermont and Toulon at Paddypower. We can’t see it lasting long.

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.

Rugby Betting Wrap, International Weekend One, Top 14 Final, 10 June 2012

New Zealand v Ireland,

Australia v Wales,

South Africa v England,

Argentina v Italy,

Toulouse v Toulon

Rugby Betting Review

A decent rugby punting weekend on the International games overall, with a few very entertaining games.

New Zealand v Ireland Result 42-10

Value bets highlighted in preview

1. Sean O Brien to score a try at 12/1- this one came agonisingly close, with O Brien getting over the line only for the try to be called back by Nigel Owens as disallowed, because Heaslip apparently hadn’t separated the ball from his boot in the quick tap. A little over zealous by Nigel considering the game was well over at this point. How he could be so sure in that split second that Heaslip fouled the ball is beyond me. People pay alot of money to go and see these games, and more specifically, tries. What happened to benefit of the doubt going to the attacking team?

2. Drop goal anytime 13/8. This one didn’t materialise unfortunately as the game was well away from Ireland by the end of the first half, something I hadn’t anticipated as I thought New Zealand would be a bit rusty.

Overall the game exposed the general ineffective Irish attacking play under Kidney, and some strange selection decisions. I always wonder why Ireland don’t give themselves a better chance by playing the provincial halfbacks from the start. Here we had Murray and Sexton starting, and then had Reddan and ROG finishing the game when they were chasing the game for pride.

Surely this first game in the series was Ireland’s best chance of achieving the Holy Grail of a Kiwi victory? And yet, Kidney didn’t start with Leinster’s three time Heineken Cup winning halfbacks Reddan and Sexton (honourable mention for Isaac Boss here). He could have even started with O’Gara and Murray and it would have made more sense. Kidney has been doing this for the past two seasons- surely he has learned all he can at this point on the combo’s? Very confusing decisions from Kidney, to say the least.

I didn’t think that McFadden should have been on the wing in this game, nor Earls at inside centre –similar to the halfback situation above, surely they should have been the other way around? Sure enough Savea’s first try that opened the floodgates came directly from these two having a misunderstanding in defence. And it was all one way traffic from there on in. Ireland battled hard and didn’t stop fighting, but had no answer to the black-tide, going through the phases the little time they had the ball, but having no real incision. On first impressions the -25 available already from bet365 is a decent bet. I’d be amazed too if Savea anytime try scorer is anything over evens when the market comes out later in the week- this kid looks one for the future, and if he starts, he’s a banker to score a try i reckon.

** Betting update- New Zealand available at -23 in paddypower, New Zealand back in Christ Church- hard to ignore this one**

Australia v Wales Result 27-19

Value Bets highlighted in Preview

1. Australia 1-12 winning margin is 7/4 – this one came home nicely for us, and Australia duly delivered and reacted to their disappointing loss V Scotland with a ballsy performance that was dominant overall. This looked slightly in jeopardy during Wales’ purple patch, but Australia fought the fatigue and came through, responding throughout to Wales’s scores with scores of their own.

2. Toby Faleteau is 25/1 1st try scorer. – Faleteau was active but Wales didn’t bring out their customary fast start and Faleteau is now out of the tour completely with a broken hand unfortunately.

3. The draw at 20/1 is one to consider – this one looked on when Wales came back, and the way these two have finished so close in recent years you’d have been a brave person to back against it. My 2 euro disappeared though with Australia’s final try! Curses!

4. No try scorer is 25/1.The high Octane start from Australia blew this one out of the water really, and the tight game that would have been conducive to no try never really developed, Thankfully actually, as it was a very entertaining game.

As we had mentioned, we had an inkling that maybe Wales were being given a bit too much respect on the back of their winning streak and so it proved. There was a point when they came back into the game as the Aussies started to wilt after a heavy game v Scotland last week, and they were very hard done by on the Australian 22 when the awful Craig Joubert called Pocock for interfering in the ruck, the ball squirted out and ruined the Welsh attack, and yet Joubert carried on regardless. Joubert will never be forgiven from me for handing New Zealand the World Cup final 2012, and he demonstrated here again he lacks decision making ability, and confuses himself as well as everyone else.

Despite that Joubert shambles, Wales never really looked like winning this game at any point, but had enough quality to stay in touch and bring the 1-12 home. Even though Jamie Roberts has had a middling season, they missed him here as their two centres with very little rugby of late had little impact. Warburton made some ground with ball in hand but threw some woeful passes that stifled Welsh attack. In general Wales never looked that interested really. Cuthbert was the only one on the field that looked to have any urgency at all. He looks good for a try at some point in this series, but the anytime prices are prohibitively small. If I got 2/1 i’d take it but anything lower is a pisstake by the bookies away from home with a weakened side. Perhaps Wales’ lack of urgency will change in the remaining tests, but with North and Faleteau out, two big parts of their game plan have been negated.

For Australia, Genia was unreal, along with Hooper and I felt Rob Horne had a great game despite butchering a simple overlap in the first half. With Welsh injuries, and Australian morale flying high when a lot of people were writing them off, the -6 available with bet365 looks a steal to me. There’s a common theme here in case you haven’t noticed- that barring some crazy weather, all of the Southern hemisphere handicaps for next weekend look very generous right now, including South Africa’s v England.

South Africa v England Result 22-17

Value Bets Highlighted in Preview

1.I can’t ignore the South Africa -6 and 7 at evens – this didn’t work out in the end but hey, that’s gambling! Foden at the death scuppered the minus 6. Realistically South Africa should have been further out but this can always happen at the end of games

2. Tuilagi 1st try scorer at 14/1 is a decent punt– Always worth a punt this, but generally his form from the Premiership final continued here. Made some good ground in contact, but it was a kicking game really.

3. Pietersen 11/1 1st try scorer. Try scorer bets are always small bets for interest. Pietersen had a good game but looked slightly subdued, possibly tired from his Super 15 exertions. but he’ll get something over the tests I reckon.

I wasn’t too disappointed when England fought back into contention to eventually ruin the handicap, (when it looked like running away from them), as I had a medium sized double on Australia and South Africa to win by 1-12 points. I don’t like putting up doubles on here, but they have their moments and I might put up a special longshot section soon enough.

England started pretty well here and were drawing at half time. A lot of kicking from both sides punctuated a lot of excitement, but that’s what happens when you have the Steyn’s on one side, and Mike Brown and Ben Foden on the other. We alluded to Lancaster’s Foden/Brown shoe-horning experiment in the preview, saying it may blow up in England’s face, but on the balance of things it worked out ok. But it was a precarious balance –Foden was on hand at some crucial junctures to snuff out South African Attacks, but they lost out slightly in that, I don’t think I once seen him and Ashton combine as they often do for England and Northampton. Mike Brown had a decent game overall, despite kicking out on the full a couple of times, but too often he ran back into contact and there was very little support there to help him out. Not his fault, but you have to wonder, had Foden been there with Ashton reading him off his shoulder, would England have looked more like winning?

It’ll be interesting to see how the backline shapes up with Barritt out injured. Christian Wade isn’t tested at this level, but he’s exciting, and he’s a try scorer, and if England are to get a win on this series they’ll have to score tries in the first 79 minutes. If they stuck him on the wing instead of Foden and used both Foden and Brown at full back, with Joseph in the centre, England could beat a big physical South African side that isn’t the most mobile. Farrell offered nothing really on Saturday, (someone needs to have a chat with him about the grubber kicks), and he is most definitely not on form after an absolute shambles of a game against the Barbarians. I don’t like to use definitives, but it was the worst display from an international out half I may have ever seen! Sure it was a nothing game…but he was brutal. Toby Flood has to start next week if he’s fit. If Farrell starts again, it’s hard to see England staying in touch.

As it was, South Africa’s team talk at half time must have noted the fact that this English team are simply much less experienced, smaller, and younger them. They came out in the second half and made their physical presence and experience count by going through the phases and simply running at England. There was an inevitability to the tries but, all credit to England , when it looked like they were about to be on the end of another South African hiding, they re-grouped and kept it respectable, even threatening to win for a small period.

Betting-wise, Barritt being out is a big defensive blow against the physicality that the Springboks bring. I’d expect the second game to start just like the second half did yesterday, and unless Lancaster decides to really go for a running game, they probably won’t win.  Hopefully it’ll be dry to at least make this a possibility. South Africa -10 at bet365 (the only bookie with prices up yet) is good value, as I feel Lancaster won’t change things, and England will have to deal with the same defensive effort tiring them out as on Saturday. If however he does change things, South Africa will have a challenge on their hands that they may not deal with. I’ll be keeping an eye out for prices on England halftime/South Africa fulltime (if Lancaster changes it up more than he has to- which he probably won’t)

** Betting update- South Africa available at -9 in paddypower, SA playing at altitude, and some favourable positional switches- i’m on this one already**

Toulouse v Toulon Result 18-12

Value bets highlighted in Preview

1. Toulouse winning by 1-12 points –This one rolled home nicely, but we were blessed at the death when David Smith fumbled an unsympathetic pass with an almost certain try on the cards

2. Half time/full time Toulouse at evens –This one was agonisingly dashed with McAlister hitting the post on the stroke of half time with a drop goal under the posts, and then an offside penalty given to Toulon. Whiskers away.

3. A drop goal to be scored 4/6– see just above. In total four attempt were missed, three narrowly, one off the post!

4. Toulouse half time/Toulon full time 9/1 (late pick before kick-off, put in preview). – Again, that drop off the posts cost this one any chance of life, Toulon could well have won at the end, and 9/1 was a great price.

In the end Toulouse were very lucky to win this, with Toulon almost in at the death for a try but for some bad passing and handling. Had they gone to hand cleanly, they would have been in, with a conversion for the title. I was happy with the 1-12 coming in, and unhappy the 9/1 htft didn’t come in. It was a typical French final, with murder in the breakdown and plenty of drama. There’s not much to talk about betting-wise after it as that’s the end of the season, except for that it’ll be tough for Toulon to pick themselves up mentally next season after this defeat and the chance they spurned. I wouldn’t want to be David Smith right now who had a good game against Clermont but was pretty bad in the few games previous to that. Hopefully he’s surrounded by people who’ll remind him it’s only a game.

Argentina v Italy Result 37-22

Argentina were -12 at 10/11 for this game. I only got to see the second half of this game when I finally found a feed online (it wasn’t televised), but what I saw of Italy was not encouraging at all.

Argentina had rested the majority of their top players for this game, in anticipation of the 4 nations tournament. They had a lot of guys putting their hands up to go on tour, from regional club sides in Argentina, and they played with a lot of heart. Only Contepomi and Exeter’s Mieres were recognisable in this line-up, and yet they beat an Italian side that was close to full strength save Parisee.

Italy had a number of chances to exploit huge amounts of space in the Argentinian line, and they couldn’t do a thing with it. I was aghast at times to be honest, with the ineptitude that they showed in attack as soon as the ball left the scrum. There is a complete lack of pace there, and the coaching doesn’t seem up to much. They look to have gone backwards and I fear for them in the 6 nations to be honest. I know it’s far away, but they’ll be wooden spooners next year I’m almost certain of it.

I actually fancied Italy to win this, and tweeted that I was putting a few quid on it as they had by far the better set of players on paper. From a punting perspective, don’t write off the Argentinians to win a game in the 4 nations. This second team was powerful, if lacking slightly in refinement, with plenty of pace. Those who make the tour will complement the senior full side well I’m really looking forward to seeing them this summer. For now, I’m not even sure if there is another Italian game (I assume there will be), and if there is, don’t touch Italy with a penny of your money.

Stop by the site during the week as we’ve a bit of U20’s rugby punting on the cards Tuesday