Category Archives: Super 15 Rugby Betting

Intercept tries and live rugby betting odds

Weekend lessons – interception tries

It’s the off season for me as a punter as my three rugby betting loves the Premiership, the Rabo & Top14 have all left me for the summer (well, I say three ‘loves‘, but the Top14 is really more like that girlfriend that you have nothing in common with and drives you insane but still has you coming back for more every time). That doesn’t mean i don’t have a bet each weekend, but I’m a bit more picky about what i get involved in, and the stakes are considerably smaller than my regular season action.

Last weekend was a bit different – knackered from some contract work during the week I had lots of spare time lounging around the house, feeding the birds, talking to the cats about not eating the birds, and (not without some shame) picking my fantasy football team for the wendy-ball starting in three weeks. As I scratched around online for some betting value, there were three bets in three games that had been on my mind from Thursday onwards. Only one of those rugby bets turned out to be a winner, but I noticed something quite valuable for the future that never really factored into my calculations before.

Firstly, we’ve all seen intercept tries at the start of games that give the vanquished loser a small consolation. But what effect do intercept tries have in games that are still contests? There are no official figures for intercept tries, so we’ll have to mostly go from memory here and base most of our thinking on last weekend, some high profile past games, and any help you guys can give in the forum to test this hypothesis.

Ok, so most rugby fans know that intercept tries are valuable commodities – it’s not rocket science. But last weekend there were three intercept tries that caused the favorites at the time to lose their games. One worked out well for me, two didn’t – but they all had the same effect on the game.

Rugby bet 1 – Kings 1-12 v Lions at 14/5, Super 15 playoff. Result – bet Lost

There was a massive disparity in the winning margin odds for this game so I felt it was good value. The Kings were at home, and Paddypower were only offering 9/5 on the Kings 1-12 when Stan James were offering 13/5. These two-way playoffs in any league are usually very tight affairs won by the home team, and I felt the Kings were well able to eek out a win. Everything was going great by the 37th minute – the Kings were totally dominant for the past 25 minutes in all the half-time buzz-word statistics, they were playing good percentage rugby, and they were ahead on the scoreboard.

The Lions were probably mentally in the land of the losing bonus point until, in the 38th minute, Stokkies Hanekom grabbed an intercept try for the Lions as the Kings were attacking (with an overlap). It totally changed the game, and the Kings never looked like winning after that; they lost all the collisions, they lost their excellent flyhalf Catrakilis on 57 minutes (who had thrown the intercept), they lost on the penalty count.

Many Kings fans will blame the ref, and it definitely didn’t help that Jaco Peyper (who had been moved from linesman at the Bulls game to referee this one two days previously, for some reason) had one of the dodgiest refereeing performances i’ve seen in a long time – when all of his dodgy decisions and non-decisions seemed to go against the Kings. Even the commentators were exasperated at times, and in truth, had the owner of the Lions franchise reffed the game himself he couldn’t have done more for his team than Peyper did. However, most of us know what Peyper is, and while we laugh at the SARU and SANZAR on a weekly basis (who still seem to think we can’t see what goes on week-in-week-out in suspiciously-reffed South African Super15 games), the fact remains that the intercept try on 38 minutes totally changed the momentum & psychology of this game and was instrumental in the Lions getting the win.

Rugby bet 2 – Chiefs ht/Crusaders full time 7/1, Bet lost

This match went the opposite way to my own punt – the Crusaders were winning at half time (9-3) and the Chiefs at full time (20-19). This game started with the Crusaders -4 point favourites on the handicap. After leading at half time, the first five minutes of the second half were truly edge-of-your-seat living for Chiefs fans; Carter hit the post with a penalty to miss taking the gap to nine points; Read screwed up the final pass in a move where the Crusaders looked destined to score a try. Not much money was going on the Chiefs at this point, and the Crusaders were on top, no doubt about it.

Still, the Chiefs survived that early onslaught (amazingly), and earned a penalty on 46 minutes to make it 9-6. The Chiefs put on a surge and after Masaga scored that wonderful monster of a try, they were leading 13-9 after 50 minutes. Nobody was writing off the Crusaders though, as they had been the better team, and the live betting was reflecting this – with the Chiefs only slight odds-on favourites despite being ahead by 4 points and at home.

In response, the Crusaders set about pounding the Chiefs line but knocked on at the crucial moment. Winding up once more (it was only a matter of time surely before the heroic Chiefs defence would break!), the Crusaders were once again on the attack and looking dangerous, when KERBLAMMO! – Aaron Cruden took an intercept in midfield and raced to the other end to score the try, making it seventeen unanswered points for the Chiefs in the space of about 15 minutes.

It was testament to the Crusaders that they hit right back with Dagg’s solo effort soon after, but the damage had been done – Cruden’s try was a true 14 point swing against the Crusaders when even my dog (who is currently a very disappointed Warrington Wolves fan – more on that below) was expecting the Crusaders to score next just before the intercept happened. The intercept try again proved crucial as Carter scored a pen and missed a pen in the final 20 minutes, and it afforded the Chiefs the option of concentrating on defending against an undoubtedly tired Crusaders side.

Would the Chiefs have won without the intercept? No, I don’t think so. And while the live odds reflected the fact the Chiefs had gone into an 11 point lead so we couldn’t take advantage this time, the polar opposite psychological effect on both teams was evident in those final 20 odd minutes.

Rugby bet 3 – Hull to beat Warrington in the Rugby League Challenge cup semi-final at 4/1. Hull win, bet wins

Warrington went into this game as -14 point favourites, and have a fantastic record in the Challenge cup. They’re second in the league (just a point behind Wigan) and are in good form. I backed Hull as they were at home, had their main kicker back from injury, and had plenty of motivation. I thought if they could stay with Warrington there would be plenty of opportunity to trade out for a profit.

Anyway, after racing into an 8 point league with some excellent play, many viewers will have felt that the writing was on the wall and it was going to be another hammering (after Wigan won 70-nil the day before)- my initial thinking looked to be way off, and Hull went to as high as 20/1 in live betting to win the game. At this point I felt my bet was gone – Hull were defending again 20 metres out, Warrington looked like they were going to totally blitz Hull to a hammering, and the home fans were very quiet. So what happened?

Warrington tried a cross kick. The kick itself was quite good and it was there for the taking by the Warrington lads on the wing. But Hull winger Tom Lineham went for it, intercepted, and ran 80 yards to touch-down for Hull’s first (and vital) score. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Hull were fired up, and they scored the next three tries to go into a 16-8 lead. They ended up squeaking the win after Warrington snuck a try in the last five minutes, but there was no doubt – the intercept totally changed the game psychologically, and made the massive underdog the better team, and the winner on the day.


Of course it could be. However what is interesting is that all of these three games had something riding on them. They weren’t just ordinary league games- motivation was at it’s highest for all six sides involved in games with interceptions. Knockout games are the thoroughbred horse races of Rugby – it’s when you can usually count on maximum effort, and your appraisal of form can be most counted upon. All three intercepts had huge opposing psychological effects on the six teams in the three games, in favour of the perceived lesser team (in the eyes of bookmakers and most neutral fans). These three games were not home/away league games so home advantage is slightly less important relatively speaking.

I guess the ultimate lesson i’m trying to convey here for rugby bettors and non-punters, is that an intercept try seems to be worth far more than the 4 or five points (depending on code) you see on the scoreboard. Again, many fans will have noted this already, but this past weekend is compelling evidence that’s it’s not just hearsay and conjecture. The price you see after an intercept try in live betting may hold alot more value than at first glance – I know a few punters who think the opposite effect takes place, and that the team who conceded the intercept become even more motivated to score next. That view has some merits, but I know what side of the debate i’m on.

Joe Roff’s try, right after half time, the intercept try, was just the medicine we needed…

John Eales and George Greegan sum up what i’ve been on about pretty well here when talking about this massive game-changer;

There’s lots more out there, and i’ve set up a thread in the forum that we can add to whenever we see one in future. The lesson here overall is to pay close attention to betting prices after intercept tries – they’re worth far more than points on the scoreboard in my opinion.

Super Rugby betting tips – round 8

Super Rugby – Week 8 beting tips, by Billy Bonds

Having taken a break last week, a new approach is underway in regards to the previews for the Super Rugby weekend. It’s been a tough few weeks so hopefully a different angle might reap dividends. This week will be mainly focused on Fridays games as there appears to be more value in these as opposed to Saturday’s match ups.

Blues – Highlanders

The first of the weekend’s action takes place in Auckland and we should be in store for a fascinating clash of two sides desperate for a win. The Highlanders are amazingly still searching for their first win of the season but have been showing signs of improving of late. Regardless though, to be still winless at this stage of the season with the talent available begs to ask questions of Jamie Joseph and his coaching staff. The return of Tuiali’i coming in this week from Japan and going straight into the side shows where the weakness lies in this team. The talent the Highlanders have out wide is scary and if they can get quick ball and hold their own up from, they are more than a match for anyone. They’ve been impressive enough in some of their games so far this season and it seems only a matter of time before they begin to exhibit their true potential. The Blues welcome back Kevin Mealamu to their squad this weekend and and it could be the boost they need after an alarming run of form. The season started off so impressively for the John Kirwan’s men but they appear to have reverted to the Blues of old recently. They’ll be hoping to get back on track in front of their home fans this weekend but I think the Highlanders should cover the handicap on this one and perhaps even sneak a win.

Selection: Highlanders +8 at 10/11

Brumbies – Kings:

The Kings continue their odyssey in their maiden super rugby season and continue to confound critics and spectators alike. They’ve been very impressive in defeat and have defying all pre-season expectations. However, their squad will begin to get stretched the longer the season goes on and they’re approaching the end of a tough trip. With one eye on what they will view as a very winnable game against the Rebels next week, the Kings have made more than a few changes to keep things fresh. This could play into the hands of the Brumbies who will be keen to wrap up the bonus point win as soon as possible. They won’t be taking the Kings lightly though and that can be seen with the pretty much full strength team named. The combination of Pat McCabe returning inside centre and Christian Lealiifano returning to the out half position is one that should promote even more attacking play. The 80 minute handicap is a tough one to call but I quite like the look of the half time markets.

Selection: Brumbies first half -12 at 5/6

Sharks – Crusaders

This clash is probably the toughest game of the weekend to call in what should be a fantastic game between two heavyweights. The Crusaders were very impressive in beating the Stormers last week with what was a weakened team. However, that win will have taken a lot out of them and they’ve lost a couple more players this weekend. The Sharks appear to have the upper hand both out wide and up front. I fancy home field advantage to see the Sharks though here

Selection: Sharks – 2 at evens

Hurricanes – Waratahs

The bookies appear to have this line close enough in my eyes and I’d loath to put too much on this. However the Waratah’s appear to be improving massively in recent weeks and would take a small punt on the cap here.

Betting Selection: Waratahs +8 at 10/11

Western Force – Rebels

This is a no bet for me as it’s too hard to see which way this game could go.

No bet

Cheetahs – Stormers

Huge game in SA with the form side up against the traditional powerhouse. Should be a very open game and like the over play here.

Selection: Overs

Best of luck lads
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Super Rugby Betting, Round 6

Waratahs v Blues Super Rugby Betting, Sunday 24th March, am GMT

Last week was one of mixed fortune for this preview, three right and three wrong. However due to an intercept try, the main bet of the weekend failed to come in with the Kings running the Chiefs closer than expected. Onwards and upwards hopefully, with a packed weekend of Super Rugby awaiting us.
There are some interesting markets up for the weekend, including one of the highest handicaps we’ve seen of late with the bookies giving the Crusaders a 28 point handicap against the Kings. It was a toss up between this game, the encounter between the Chiefs and the Highlanders and our game of choice.
In the last game of the weekend on Sunday morning, the Waratahs play host to the Blues in what should prove to be a fascinating clash between two sides eager to improve on their last outings.

Super Rugby Teams

The line has been set for this game around the 2 and 3 point mark so the bookies are expecting a close fought encounter.

Last time out the Bulls shocked many people by beating the Blues at home, a result that lead some Blues fans to believe the team’s usual inconsistency of recent years was returning to haunt them. however, a major factor in that defeat were the wholesale changes manager Sir John Kirwan made, with 10 replacements coming into the side. It was a very strange move as the Blues had started the season so well, with very impressive victories over the Highlanders and Hurricanes. Perhaps it was to rest players but only a couple of games into the season, and with a bye-week coming up, it was a strange decision which clearly backfired. Both Kirwan and Ali Williams came out publicly afterwards and expressed their disappointment with the result, including the performance. They’ll be hoping that the same mistakes won’t be repeated.

The Waratahs have had a horrible start to the season and Michael Cheika has a lot of work to do to try to salvage their season. The Tahs are a strange outfit in that they obviously have the personnel but haven’t got it right for quite some time. There appears to be a bit of disharmony in the squad with Drew Mitchell recently dropped for ‘not pulling his weight’.
A loss at home against the Cheetahs last time out wasn’t what the Tahs were looking for and whilst they didn’t play that poorly, a lack of execution when it mattered was the catalyst for defeat. They’ll be up against a Blues side looking to bounce back that will be well drilled over the previous two weeks. The loss of Berrick Barnes for the next six weeks is a blow to the Tah’s chances but they’ll be hoping that Kepu signing a new contract might give them an extra bit of impetuous for this vital game.

The Tahs will be desperate to win in front of their own fans and they’ll be under no illusions about the task in hand. However you can guarantee John Kirwan and his staff will have been drilling the Blues players over the last two weeks and they’ll be eager to make amends. The problems at the Tahs run deep and I fancy the Blues to make a statement this weekend.
Prediction: Blues -2

Super Rugby Week 6 – Other games

Chiefs – Highlanders: Should be yet another fantastic match up in New Zealand with the Cheifs looking to continue their good form. However the long trip back from SA might hamper them a bit.Highlanders +10 at
Crusaders – Kings: The Kings suffered another blow this week with their foreign players being sent home and they’ll really struggle in Christchurch. Crusaders -28 at
Reds – Bulls: The return of James Horwill cannot be understated and should prove a massive lift. The Bulls have named a drastically changed side which should offer much more going forward. Bulls +6at
Force – Cheetahs: Goosen is a huge loss to the Cheetahs and the way the play and the Force will have identified this as a must win. Force -4 at
Sharks – Rebels: The Sharks haven’t really gotten going yet this season and will be looking to account for an improving Rebels side. Rebels +14 at
Stormers – Brumbies: Game of the round in what should be a cracker and a very tough one to call but if pushed… Stormers -5 at
Waratahs – Blues: See above. Blues – 2

Bet of luck, Billy.

Super 15 Betting Tips Week 6

Super 15 Betting, Kings v Chiefs, Friday 5.10pm GMT, 15th March

super 15 rugby betting odds and previews

After a very tough weekend last time out, with the form and expectation book thrown out the window, it’s time to move onwards and upwards (hopefully) with a new round of Super Rugby fixtures.

Once again there are some fascinating clashes lined up for the weekend. The Sharks host the Brumbies whilst the Bulls visit the Crusaders in potentially the two fixtures of the round. However it is in Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium that we focus on this week where the new boys The Southern Kings play host to the reigning champions the Chiefs.

The Kings have so far defied pre-season expectation in both their games so far and have impressed fans and pundits alike with their abrasive defence and staunch organisation and game plan.

The Chiefs appear to have left off exactly as they had last season and have been hugely impressive once again, especially offensively.

Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Darron Nell (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Daniel Adongo, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.

15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Ross Filipo, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Patrick Osborne.

The bookies have priced this game around the 17 point mark. When the books opened it was around the 15 mark so there is money coming in for the Chiefs. I fear this may be the game that the resilient defence of the Kings may finally crumble,

In their first game in Super Rugby the Kings performed heroically to beat an extremely poor Western Force side. The Force were camped on the Kings line for large periods of the game and the score line didn’t reflect the stats. Two tries from schoolboy Sergeal Petersen helped them on their way but the Force were poor defensively and missed all of their kicks.

Last week the Kings came up against last year’s runners up in the form of the Sharks. The Sharks had a slight off day and weren’t themselves but full credit to the Kings for holding them tryless. However it just shows the number of points the Kings can give away against a proper kicker and added to this the Sharks had one try disallowed and were held up three times. The Sharks aren’t known for their great attacking play but really should have been better value than their 21-12 victory.

The Chiefs got off to a perfect start comprehensively beating the Highlanders by 14 points in their opener and followed that up with a hugely impressive 42 point victory over the Cheetahs in round two. They narrowly lost out to the Stormers by two points in a thriller last week, 36-34 and will be smarting from that while looking to bounce straight back. As we can see, they are scoring points for fun and look like a complete outfit on offense.

The Kings have made over 300 tackles this season already and they surely can’t continue. They have yet to face such a dominant attack like the Chiefs and I’d fancy the Chiefs to win comfortably in the end.

Betting Prediction: Chiefs -17

Super Rugby Week 5 – other games

Highlanders – Hurricanes: Extremely tough to call this one with both needing a win but the Landers need it more. Highlanders -2

Waratahs – Cheetahs: Can the Cheetahs put two impressive performances together? They have a great chance against a struggling Waratahs. Cheetahs +8

Kings – Chiefs: See above. Chiefs -17

Crusaders – Bulls: The Bulls were mighitly impressive against a below average Blues last week while the Crusaders will be looking to bounce back with their impressive home advantage.Crusaders -10

Reds – Force:
The return of Will Genia should lift the Reds against a very poor Force side. Reds -14

Sharks – Brumbies: Very tough game to call and one I’ll be staying away form but if pushed to call… Brumbies +5

Betting forum

Super 15 Betting Tips week 3

Chiefs – Cheetahs betting, 635 am GMT, Sky Sports 2

Last weekend saw the proper opening weekend of the Super Rugby season and we were spoilt with some of the rugby on show, not least with the two games featuring these two sides. There is plenty on offer this weekend again and some fascinating duels thrown up. The game with potentially the most explosive components is the one that sees the visiting South Africans visit the reigning champions in their own backyard. This has the potential to be an absolute cracker and if last year’s match-up is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.

Last season we saw an absolute humdinger in Bloemfontein which finished 39-33 to the eventual Super Rugby champions the Chiefs. Both sides provided the attacking platform for one of the games of the season (offensively anyway!) and much of the same is expected this weekend if last weeks respective showings are anything to go by.

Super 15 Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Craig Clarke, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Patrick Osborn

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Landman Ligtoring, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Ryno Benjamin.

The bookies have this priced up around a 17 point handicap and while the Chiefs are more than capable of covering this I feel the Cheetahs might surprise a few here. We all know what the Chiefs are capable of on their day. They were incredibly impressive last year in winning the tournament outright. And while they’ve lost a few notable players, they haven’t been weakened that much. On their day, they are simply unstoppable. They were irresistible on attack last week against the Highlanders in what was the game of the round. They have decided to take this game as an opportunity to rest a couple of key players, captain Craig Clarke and scrum half Kerr-Barlow most importantly.

The expansive rugby the Chiefs play is easy on the eye but can potentially leave them open defensively at times. If the game becomes a shoot-out, there are few better teams in open play than the Cheetahs.The Cheetahs were very slow to get going last week but showed good character to claw their way back into the game. We also bore witness to the expansive type of play so much associated with the men from the Free State, especially in the second half when they nearly grasped victory from the jaws of defeat.

There is no doubt which side is the better team and on paper this Chiefs side should blow the Cheetahs away. When one considers the away form of the South African’s, it doens’t paint a pretty picture. However this Cheetah’s side can play with the best of them on their day and they’ll be relishing the prospect of playing the champions on their own patch. Whilst very suspect at times defensively (and they will concede a decent amount against a rampant Chiefs), I feel the Cheetahs, especially if Goosen can get that talented backline going again, can keep within the handicap offered by the bookies.

Cheetahs +17 at 10/11

Super Rugby – Week three’s other games

Blues – Crusaders: The work the coaching dream team are doing in Auckland is showing serious potential and they’ll be relishing taking on their rivals in what should be a cracker. The Saders might take a while to get going in their first game. Blues +5 at 10/11

Waratahs – Rebels: The Tah’s are desperate to put their losing streak to bed and have a great chance against the Rebels. Bookies have the cap right here but if pushed I’d side with the Tah’s. Waratahs’s -10 at evens

Reds – Hurricanes: The Hurricane’s will be looking to bounce back after last week’s disappointmentand have a great record against the Reds. Hurricane’s +5 at 10/11

Chiefs – Cheetahs: See above. Cheetah’s + 17 at 10/11

Bulls – Force:
If the Bulls play like they did last week and the Force play like they did last week, it’ll be a bloodbath. Not sure if it’ll be quite that bad but still fancy the Bulls. Bulls -15 at evens

Sharks – Stormers:
The big clash in SA this weekend’s see’s the repeat of the Currie Cup final. Sharks will be desperate for revenge and fancy them here. Sharks -3 at 10/11

Paddy Power are giving money back on all losing tryscorer bets this weekend if the first try of any game is scored by a forward.

Super 15 Rugby Betting Week 2

Super 15 Betting Preview – Melbourne Rebels – ACT Brumbies

This weekend sees the proper beginning of the Super XV season with a total of seven games taking place. A captivating duel takes place at Friday morning in Melbourne with the Rebels hosting the visiting Brumbies. The bookies currently have the line around the 5 point mark.

There is a bit of history between these two teams with the Rebel’s first ever win in Super Rugby coming against the Brumbies in 2011. There is no love lost between the sides and we should see another tough, bruising encounter this weekend.

Whilst the Rebels won the first game (by 1 point), the Brumbies have triumphed in the three thereafter. The margins of victory in these were by 15, 31 and 8 in the most recent match up in Melbourne.

Both sides started off the season with vital wins. The Rebels came back impressively against the Western Force to win 30-23 in the end. They were lucky in some respects and a poor start won’t be so easily recouped against a strong Brumbies side. The Brumbies hosted the Reds last week and were very clinical and impressive in most facets of the game, with huge intensity in the break down and solidity throughout the side.

Rebels 15. James O’Connor , 14. Lachlan Mitchell , 13. Mitch Inman , 12. Rory Sidey , 11. Richard Kingi , 10. Kurtley Beale , 9. Nick Phipps , 8. Gareth Delve (c) , 7. Scott Fuglistaller , 6. Scott Higginbotham , 5. Luke Jones , 4. Hugh Pyle , 3. Laurie Weeks , 2. Ged Robinson , 1. Nic Henderson
Replacements : 16. Shota Horie , 17. Paul Alo-Emile , 18. Cadeyrn Neville , 19. Jarrod Saffy , 20. Nic Stirzaker , 21. Alex Rokobaro , 22. Tom English
Brumbies 1. Ben Alexander , 2. Stephen Moore , 3. Dan Palmer , 4. Scott Fardy , 5. Sam Carter , 6. Peter Kimlin , 7. David Pocock , 8. Ben Mowen (c) , 9. Nic White , 10. Matt Toomua , 11. Clyde Rathbone , 12. Christian Lealiifano , 13. Andrew Smith , 14. Joe Tomane , 15. Jesse Mogg
Replacements , 16. Siliva Siliva , 17. Scott Sio , 18. Fotu Auelua , 19. Colby Faingaa , 20. Ian Prior , 21. Robbie Coleman , 22. Tevita Kuridrani

In what should be an interesting encounter, the Rebels have it all to do to ensure that they can build on last week’s decent result. The Brumbies will be determined to finally fulfil their potential of recent years.

The Rebels impressed up front last week but the ball was slow coming back and that was against a relatively poor Western Force pack. The Brumbies are a completely different proposition, especially with the new addition of Pocock. Their work at the break down was intense last week, with Mowen and Kimlin in exceptional form, and the Rebels will seriously need to up their game if they are to keep up and a big performance is needed from Scott Fuglistaller if they’re to do this. In the front five, the Rebels have continually improved but advantage must lie with the Brumbies again. Big advantage to the Brumbies here and if the weather is poor, as expected, this could be the determining of the game as without quick ball the talent out wide for the Rebels is wasted.

The half back duel will be extremely interesting with Phipps constantly improving and Beale beginning to develop more into his role now that position has been finalised. It’s not something I’d agree with as I think O’Connor would complement the Rebels backline more at 10 but Beale seems to be the preferred choice for now. I’d prefer Lealiifano at 10 for the Brumbies as well but their backline has a nice balance to it all the same. The Brumbies back should ensure plenty of ball and it’ll be interesting to see if they can build on last week’s impressive outing.

The major worries for the Brumbies are their place kicking and the amount of missed tackles last week. They need Nic White to take over the responsibility completely and hope he’s on form as they’ll get plenty of opportunities for 3 pointers.

Prediction: Whilst home advantage should never be discounted and any team with the individual talent the Rebels shouldn’t be underestimated, I’m siding with the Brumbies here. They have a massive advantage in the front eight and that could well be the determining factor in the game as without quick ball, the threat the Rebels possess can be nullified.

Super 15 Betting verdict; Brumbies -5 at evens
Super Rugby Betting– Week 2 overview (other games)

Highlanders – Chiefs: Home advantage and strong signings in the off season could favour the home side who always start strongly against the reigning champions. Highlanders -2 at 10/11

Rebels – Brumbies: See above. Brumbies -5 at evens

Bull – Stormers: Possibly the clash of the weekend in a titanic duel of the South African giants. Bulls to keep it very tight and maybe scraping a win. Bulls +2 at 10/11

Hurricanes – Blues: Blue have the coaching structure in place to build on and can see them keeping up with a depleted Hurricanes side. Blues +6 at evens

Reds – Waratahs: Another potential humdinger. Hardest game to call all weekend but if pushed I’d go with the Waratahs +2 at 10/11

Cheetahs – Sharks: Should be entertaining, always is with the Cheetahs, but the Sharks should have too much for them. Sharks -6 at evens

Kings – Force: Instinct would be to back the Force but this is the easiest game the Kings will have all year and their first at home. Will be staying away as too unpredictable but if pushed,Kings +12 at 10/11

By Billy Bonds

Super Rugby Final Betting

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

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

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

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

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

Super Rugby Pick 1

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

Super Rugby final Pick 2

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

Super Rugby final pick 3

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

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

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

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

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

Super Rugby Playoffs – Chiefs Crusaders Stormers Sharks

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

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

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

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

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

Super Rugby Playoffs Pick 1;

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

Super Rugby Playoffs Pick 2;

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

Super rugby Playoffs Pick 3;

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

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

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

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

Super Rugby Playoffs Pick 4;

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

Super Rugby Playoff Pick 5;

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

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

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

Super Rugby Playoffs Betting Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of luck whichever way you go!

Super Rugby Finals – Six of the best?

Super Rugby finals run in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Super rugby coaching ineptitude.

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

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

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

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

In conclusion

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

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