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Rugby Betting tips on the Rugby League World Cup

The Rugby League World Cup might come second to Rugby Union when it comes to media coverage, but it is certainly one of the events that fans of Rugby League – and of sports betting in general – will be following with considerable interest this October & November. The competition doesn’t start until October the 26th, but people will be placing bets on it – with outright bets on the winner being the most punted market – well ahead of that date, and you can get odds information from most bookies already. So who have they marked down as being amongst the favourites for the tournament?

Just now there is no question that Australia are seen as the outstanding favourites to win the Rugby League World Cup – with their odds of 1/3 showing just how strong the bookmakers consider them to be. Behind them are New Zealand on 11/2, and England on 8/1, but after that the fourth placed team (Tonga) have odds of 200/1. This suggests that it is basically a three country battle for the trophy, but even then Australia are the clear favourites – having beaten defending champs New Zealand in both recent one-off test matches – so outright rugby betting fans could be faced with either accepting these low odds to bet on Australia or opting to just watch the tournament and do something else to keep the thrill in it, like and play rugby league world cup themed games at

There are quite a few of these to choose from – generally slots games – with two popular ones being Rough Rugby and Odd Shaped Balls. The former is a five reel slot with a backdrop of a rugby pitch and reel icons of players, rugby balls and match tickets, while the latter is more specifically World Cup inspired. As the daft name suggests, Oddly Shaped Balls goes for a humorous slant with its reel icons, including a (strategically censored) female streaker, but there is certainly nothing silly about the $200,000 top jackpot it offers. Either of these rugby themed slots games could offer a fun alternative to betting on the World Cup. Betting on Australia at those odds definitely isn’t advised – but small money on a heretofore underachieving England side might be worth it for interest.

Ulster v leinster – Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting

Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting

Ulster v Leinster betting, Ulster -5 Paddypower/William hill, Leinster +8 stanjames

BBC2 NI 9:05 Friday, 21st December

Back to the Rabo then for Friday night’s derby showdowns. No doubt the most interesting clash in the RaboPro12 this weekend is between Ulster and Leinster in Ravenhill. Both sides come off the back of slight shocks in then Heineken Cup with Ulster going down by a point at home to Northampton and Leinster being systematically conquered by Clermont in Dublin. Comparing the two defeats you’d have to say Ulster’s loss was the most avoidable, with plenty of bad decision making, handling errors, and missed kicks. In contrast, Leinster just weren’t at the races and were like a jockey without a saddle holding on for dear life, ducking punches, trying to avoid the seemingly inevitable. They were devoid of ideas against one of the most complete team performances in European rugby in many years by Clermont, and it’s testament to their spirit that they pulled a hugely undeserved losing bonus point from the fire.

It’s difficult to draw comparisons between both losses – but arguably Leinster played better against the better team, and arguably emerge better psychologically compared to Ulster, whose much-vaunted winning streak has come to a crunching halt. Also, individual performances last week were arguably poorer on the Ulster side – with most players contributing to an astronomical error count, and Pienaar, Cave and Jackson showing particularly poorly. Jared Payne dropping and forcing passes was worrying as he has been the oil in the gears of this Ulster backline in big games. Tommy Bowe is now out injured for four months, Muller and Touhy are out and all of a sudden fortress Ravenhill isn’t looking impenetrable. On top of all that, some players ( definitely Gilroy and Cave – possibly more) haven’t trained in the Ulster squad and were sick during the week. Let’s take a look at the starting teams;

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Neil McComb, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Alan O’Connor, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Paddy Wallace, 23 Adam D’Arcy.

Leinster: 15 Noel Reid, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Michael Bent, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Adam Byrne.

There is inexperience in that Leinster backline but you could say the poor form of Ulster’s backs makes this evens. And we’re not just basing Ulster’s poor form on last week either – they have squeaked though in their last three league games away at Scarlets, Zebre and Treviso. On recent form I’d choose Madigan and Reddan over Pienaar and Jackson, and when we move on to the pack the advantage starts to swing Leinster’s way. The lineout is Leinster’s, and the Leinster backrow is an all international unit and shades the undoubted quality for ulster. I can’t predict how the scrums will go but I think the other all international unit of Leinster will have the upper hand. Benchwise- both sides look equal enough, but with a little more experience for Leinster probably.

For me leinster are the better side here, and recent history points to them staying well within this handicap start –
In the past six years in the league games immediately following Heineken cup round four, the following results occurred;

Leinster 42 – 13 Ulster 2011
Ulster 13 – 30 Leinster 2010
Leinster 15 – 3 Ulster 2009
Ulster 13 – 21 Leinster 2008
Leinster 29 – 0 Ulster 2007
(leinster lost away at Munster in 2006)
Ulster 19 – 24 Leinster 2005

All Leinster wins. Case closed?

Main Rabopro12 Rugby bet

while the leinster win is tempting at biggest 9/4 in stanjames our main bet is taking Leinster with the start biggest +8 in stanjames at 10/11. The stats all point to leinster tomorrow night and despite some weakness in the Leinster backline Ulster are in no form to take advantage. Ulster’s form has been poor for the past six weeks if you forget the win away at Northampton, and Leinster hold the upper hand over the past six years and beyond in this fixture. The handicap started at +8 in Paddypower and has since contracted to +5 so there has been money for Leinster.

Other bookmakers have lowered the Leinster handicap too except Stanjames at +8. I’d also take +7 if I had to. Big teams bounce back after poor disappointing showings – i’m expecting Leinster to take their frustrations out on a wounded Ulster side this Friday, and while I fancy them for a win, I’m happy enough taking the excellent value +8.

Challenge Cup Rugby Betting round 2

Gloucester v Bordeaux-Begles – Challenge Cup Rugby Betting, 1945 pm on Sky

Bordeaux gave us all a nice win last weekend with the London Irish -4 and London Irish ht/ft coming in comfortably. We all got the jump here because the bookies obviously hadn’t looked at the teams, but we had. Like we said, there’s always opportunity in this competition if you do your research. This week it’s slightly different and they’ve done their homework (so far), with the handicap opening up early this morning for this game at -24 in Bet365; they’re into -26 there already, with Ladbrokes as big as -27.

Gloucester name a strong team, with the only really notable missing man being Freddie Burns, with Billy 12trees at 10. Fifty one times capped All Black Jimmy Cowan gets the start here at scrum half and it would be no surprise to see him get a score here against a very weak Bordeaux defence. The Bordeaux side is as weak as it was last weak, but the bench is stronger – with a couple of pack first teamers floating around, and starting ten Lopez.

Gloucester need a bonus point here to keep up with London Irish and we reckon they’ll get it and then some. The weather is good despite a smidgen of rain early in the day, and a little yesterday. Twelvetrees’ sometimes-wayward kicking prevents us from considering the bigger handicaps here, but he should get enough to take us over the line.

Challenge cup betting Main bet

– Take the Gloucester -25, the lowest still available in SKybet. We’d go so far as to say take the -26 if you can’t get -25 but the -27 is to be left alone – don’t settle if you’re only with Ladbrokes and noone else. Despite the semi-decent bench, Bordeaux are already out of this competition with that selection, and the only question for Gloucester is how many they can put on them.

Oddly enough Bwin currently have Gloucester half time/fulltime at 15/13, which is obviously a big mistake (1/20 elsewhere). But if you have an account, lump into it and try to fight them voiding your bet.

Agen v Bath – no main bet. A decent Bath side probably shouldn’t be trusted in Europe to beat a handicap that started at -9 and is now at -12. Agen have a win from their first game so they’d be mad not to put a bit of effort in here. Plus they have one or two first teamers in the starting 15 and bench. The only possible punt we could find was the highest scoring half being the second at biggest 5/6 in Ladbrokes – again, Agen SHOULD try to keep this competitive for a while at least. Weather is good, so it should open up for either side in the second half. Very small stakes.

This will be a rolling thread for the weekend with games being added to the top of this post as and when we can. Of course the main European games are the Heineken cup this weekend, but for those willing to delve deep into team news and squad depth there is always massive opportunity for profit in this competition.

There is a forum thread set up for the challenge cup round 2 here so head on over there with any thoughts for the weekend, and to read those of other members.

More to follow

Challenge Cup Rugby Betting round 1

This will be a rolling thread for the weekend with games being added to te top of this post as and when we can. Of course the main European games are the Heineken cup this weekend, but for those willing to delve deep into team news and squad depth there is always massive opportunity for profit in this competition.

There is a forum thread set up for the challenge cup round 1 here, so head on over there with any thoughts for the weekend.

***Bordeaux-Begles v London Irish – Challenge Cup Rugby Betting, 8pm on French tv- you’ll find a stream somewhere

There was a couple of serious hammerings in the challenge cup on Friday night and we regret not getting involved – we let the Heineken take too much of our attention. We’ve had a look through Saturday’s games and this one stands out for a couple of reasons. bordeaux haven’t named one starter from last week at home to Toulouse where they were mugged at the death. On top of that, there’s only 6 players who were in that squad, and only four of them that came off the bench with less than 20 to go (one of whom got a yellow). Those numbers include all of the bench players aswell by the way. The TOP14 survival hunger-games is their only priority, and they’re not the type of side that has massive depth.

London Irish have named a strong side with many of their premiership stars and lots of international quality. There’s not much more to be said here so i’ll give you the starting 15; (remember most of those lads put over 40 points on Northampton last weekend and look to finally be clicking with IHumph in the hotseat)
15. Steven Shingler; 14. Topsy Ojo*; 13. Jonathan Joseph*; 12. Guy Armitage; 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau*; 10. Ian Humphreys; 9. Tomás O’Leary*; 1. Max Lahiff; 2. David Paice*; 3. Halani Aulika*; 4. Bryn Evans (Captain); 5. Matt Garvey; 6. Ofisa Treviranus*; 7. Jamie Gibson; 8. Chris Hala’ufia*

There’s a little rain due in the afternoon but nothing crazy, and it’ll be dry by 8pm. The best you can get London Irish at is -4 in paddypower and stanjames and we’d recommend taking that as soon as you can today because surely it can’t last? Possibly better; London irish ht/ft is even money in Paddypower if you don’t fancy the handicap. I can’t see how London Irish – a team of professional rugby players – can lose this game. I’ll be gobsmacked if both of the above punts don’t come in for you here, and it’s not often i’ll say that.

First of all- there’s nothing that appeals on the outright tournament betting. For anyone that doesn’t know, four quarter finalists for this tournament come from those that just miss out on Heineken cup qualification in the final shakeup in March. So we’ll wait until then to look at outrights.

Challenge cup fixtures for this weekend.

11/10/2012 19:30 P1 MontdeMarsan v Gloucester Rugby Eurosport France/Sky Sports
12/10/2012 18:30 P5 Grenoble v I Cavalieri
12/10/2012 19:00 P3 Bayonne v Rugby Mogliano Stad
13/10/2012 13:00 P4 Bucharest Wolves v Bath
13/10/2012 14:00 P2 Rugby Rovigo v Perpignan
13/10/2012 15:00 P2 Bizkaia RT v Worcester
13/10/2012 15:00 P5 London Welsh v StadeFrancais
13/10/2012 18:00 P4 Rugby Calvisano v Agen
13/10/2012 20:00 P1 Bordeaux-Begles v London Irish
13/10/2012 20:10 P3 London Wasps v Dragons Sky

Challenge cup Rugby betting, 19:30 P1 MontdeMarsan v Gloucester Rugby Sky sports

Something to whet our appetite for the weekend tonight – and on first inspection it’s a difficult one to call. Mont-de-Marsan have lost all of their seven games since the start of the TOP14 season, but gained their first point last weekend with a defensive bonus point, losing 30-28 to Stade Francais at home.

The team they put out tonight have just one player in the starting fifteen from the weekend, and one or two from the week before when they lost away 15-6 to Perpignan. The team they have out tonight is young and the pack is quite big. They have a winger at scrumhalf and there’s not much to report other than it’s pretty much an entire second team, with a few able replacements on the bench from the first team.

Glocucester turn up with a stronger side but are still missing a fair few like Monahan, Burns and Morgan, but it’s more than half of their first team and they have a decent bench with Cowan and 12trees and others.

Our initial thoughts on this were to back the Gloucester -8 available in places, but there’s rain currently falling there and the obvious game-plan MDM will employ will be to bash it up and try to keep it tight. Also, last year a couple of the weakened French sides really turned up at home, and this lot tonight will undoubtedly be trying to stake their claim to a place on the first team after such a bad start to the season. A lightweight enough Gloucester team should have a tough enough time against a likely spirited home side, and with the weather and their middling form of late it’s easy to see them getting bogged down in a mire here.

Two bets stand out for small stakes- (we liked Kalimafoni for anytime try but he’s only 3/1 biggest so we’re leaving it)

Gloucester win by 1-12 – biggest in bet365 (13/8 elsewhere). It’s hard to see Gloucester running away with this – they haven’t run away with much in the premiership this season, and the French love their bonus points. Are Gloucester going to be arsed holding them out if they’re pushing for a losing bonus with ten to go? Questionable.

Also for small stakes, the half time Montdemarsan, Full time Gloucester is biggest 13/2 in bet365 and sky bet. Realistically Gloucester shouldn’t have any problem here but remember they’re issing Freddie Burns who really makes them tick, and they could pitch up here expecting a handy run-out. If they are behind at half tie, they have loads of quality to get it back. Worth a small bet this one, and a win could set us up nicely with a big stake to play with on Friday.

Just to tack on here- Tindall anytime try is 9/2 biggest in skybet and williamhill, and we’re on that now too. He was scoring for the barbarians during the summer and he’ll have plenty of ball tonight.

Rugby Betting Preview – Friday Forum

Rugby Betting Odds Preview Friday 14th September. Premiership, Top 14, Rabo Pro12, Rugby Championship

Good afternoon folks. Just for this weekend we’re going to try and get some discussion going in the rugby betting forum on the individual games. If you haven’t joined yet – head on over now and sign up through the link above, it takes two minutes.

Betting Forum – Rabo pro12 Betting

Betting Forum – Premiership Rugby Betting

Betting Forum – Top 14 Rugby Betting

Rugby Betting Redux Sep 7th – 9th

Rugby Betting Preview 7th-9th September. In order – Top 14, Premiership, Rugby Championship, Rabo Pro12.

Rounds one and two of the Premiership and Rabo last week kicked up some results that proved that the bookies are still finding their feet with the handicaps. The problem is that it’s hard to tell whether or not this week’s handicaps are a bunch of over-reactions without any real form to help us.

Witness Wasps and Quins putting 82 points up between them in a game that had last years champions 27 points down at one stage to last year’s basement strugglers. Cracking entertainment and we won on our 1-12 bet as we thought Quins would just do enoguh and they duly did. The problem comes when you try to carry that through to this week and make sense of it. Quins are 22 point favourites at home to London Welsh this Friday and the temptation is to back that after London Welsh were well beaten at home by Leicester. But cast your mind back to last season. How many times did Quins do just enough and not beat a handicap that they should have completely smashed? And will London Welsh be able to exploit the defensive issues shown up by Wasps last week every time they went wide? Tough to tell.

If we look to the example set by the rugby traders for Toulouse, there might be opportunity here in opposing Quins for a few weeks. Toulouse have scraped through in two games and lost away to an average Biarritz side (albeit due to some abysmal place kicking by Beauxis). Yet the bookies are still giving them a handicap of 22 points for a home game against Agen. The point here is that we’re as susceptible as the next man to letting reputations dictate where we put our money, and we’re not going to let it happen this weekend. Quins should not be backed to beat the handicap, as like Toulouse the handicap looks a bit too big based on current (one week) form. Conversely, London Welsh shouldn’t be touched as we haven’t seen nearly enough of them.

Wasps are away to Bath and have a six point start, and this is equally difficult to have a firm opinion on. Bath were woeful last season, they snatched the win last week at the death right on the hooter, and had that kick not gone over would Wasps have been maybe +4 or +3? Quite possibly. The better pick here is undoubtedly Wasps +6, but you couldn’t have any confidence in it until we see more of them.

This uncertainty is the theme running right though our rugby betting thoughts for this weekend, and based on that we’re largely going to sit back and watch to see how things pan out. It would be very easy for us to manufacture some picks for the sake of giving you something to read, but unless we really like something we won’t recommend a bet on here. We’ll put our most likely picks up below for the weekend, but we’ll stress again that most of the games right across the Premiership, Rabo pro12, and TOP 14 this weekend are very tough to call. We do however fancy New Zealand to beat the handicap against Argentina – more on that below.

TOP 14 Rugby betting tips round four

As above, there’s nothing that massively appeals in France this weekend. Starting with Toulouse, you probably shouldn’t trust them to beat any handicap lately (especially not one that is 22 points) and you couldn’t trust Agen to stay within it either. Agen’s management will no doubt have noticed since the start of the season that they’re lacking any real creativity. It’ll be a season of survival oriented containment and losing bonus points for them, with the odd grind of a home win. There’s one plus for potential Toulouse backers here- last week will have been a kick in the teeth for Agen as they looked in it for a possible losing bonus up until the last quarter. They had worked very hard only to have it disappear with a very fortunate Montpellier bounce. They might be knackered and not up for it this week, and you couldn’t blame them really so Toulouse is marginally the better pick here to beat the cap if you have to bet on it.

Biaritz are -7 versus Montpellier. We’re yet to be convinced that Biarritz are much better than last season. The +7/8 on Montpellier is the more attractive proposition considering the tackles Toulouse were falling off last week, and the easy missed kicks of Beauxis. Had Toulouse had slightly better execution in the final passes of attacks, a kicker who wasn’t pulling kicks miles wide, and a defence that was concentrating, they would have won that game with a very ordinary display. Monty on the other hand slowly built their performance last week into a try bonus point win. The were slightly fortunate in the bounce for their first try, but nevertheless if they have any ambition they should fancy a win here and not just a losing bonus point; they looked seriously delighted when they pulled out a bonus point last week and they’ll be really confident. We saw last year that they go on confidence runs where they play scintillating rugby. There is always the worry they’ll just aim for the losing bonus of course, and there’s +8 around which should be taken. This is one of our few confident picks for this weekend.

Grenoble are -11 v Mont De Marsan and this is one to be avoided on the handicaps. Grenoble are the better side, but remember it was Stade Francais that they put away well last week, who tend to give up the ghost when things are not going their way. Marsan SHOULD be well up for this as the battle of the newly promoted. Grenoble 1-12 would be our best bet if we had to have a crack at this one.

Stade Francais are -5 v Castres, and initial thoughts are this is a game Castres could win. They’re in fantastic form with the excellent Kockott directing operations at Scrum half, and the only question is whether they realise how open for a beating at home Stade Francais actually are. The handicap doesn’t appeal either way, but Castres might be worth putting into a small stakes 1-10 or 1-12 winning margin double with Montpellier. Paddy power have best price currently on both winning by 1-10/1-12, coming out roughly 9 to 1.

Perpignan are -8 v Bayonne. Leave this one alone. We still haven’t a clue how Perpignan are going to turn out with all of their new stars. They should be ok, but one suspects they’d be just happy with any sort of a win after two disappointing losses in rounds one and two.

Toulon are -20 v Bordeaux Begles. This is probably one to take an interest in. Racing Metro were dire in attack last week when they beat Bordeaux 18-7 with six penalty kicks and no tries. They seemed to get over the gain line a fair bit but once there had no idea how to execute. Part of that was down to Bordeaux working hard to keep them out, but a large part was attacking ineptitude and poor final ball. This won’t happen with Toulon, who have shown they’re well up for scoring tries this season. Bordeaux had a tough outing last week too, and this could be one they consign to the zero points ledger in preparation for better prospects over the next few weeks.

Best TOP 14 rugby bets for Round 4

Montpellier +8, Toulon -19/20.

Premiership Rugby betting tips round four.

We’ve mentioned Quins in detail above, but just to re-iterate, it should be left alone. We’ve also touched on Bath v Wasps and reckon that the 1-12 on Bath is probably a better pick than either on the handicaps. Looking at Wasps last week, they should be competitive and score a couple of tries. The main difference is that defensively Bath will know exactly what to look out for and Biggs and Abendanon will be better equipped to deal with Wade and Varndell than George Lowe was (as we predicted, he was burned every time last week. I’ve seen milk turn faster). Bath will want to keep it tight for obvious reasons, and they scored no tries last week. If that’s the way they’re setting up they’ll be more than happy with the plain four pointer here to get past a major potential banana skin.

London Irish are -2 against Gloucester. Run far away from this- anyone who tells you they have a good pick for this game is either mad or a genius. Anything could happen, and we’ve no way of guessing what. Gloucester had to work so hard for anything last week and they got very little (in contrast to Northampton who ghosted through whenever the mood took them). We don’t know if London Irish just gave up or were really so bad that they lost by 37 points. Total coinflip in our humble opinion.

We don’t like the look of Leicester v Worcester a whole lot, though Leicester -18 looks better than Worcester +18. Leicester could seriously go to town here, but it’s hard to have any conviction until we see more of Worcester.

Saracens -4 v Sale has to be taken if last week was anything to go by. You’d expect a better performance from Sale at home, but you couldn’t back them on the +4 for any reason. They don’t have a defensive coach and they were eaten alive publicly by their management. In our experience that rarely helps a team perform. Andy Powell would have been one of their main ball carriers at eight but he’s out injured. Saracens meanwhile will go after the win, and if they get ahead there’s no reason to assume they’ll let up. Many will be tempted here by the 1-12, but if asked I’d fancy a Saracens win by more than 15 here before I’d pick a 1-12 win. We’re already on Sarries straight win in our midweek banker bet (see homepage). We’ll have some of the Saracens -4 aswell.

Finally in Premiership rugby betting, Northampton -9 v Exeter is one to avoid. It’s hard to imagine Exeter being beaten by more than 12 so the safest pick here may be Northampton 1-12 at home.

Best Premiership rugby bets for Round 4.

As we said, difficult week this week, especially for handicaps.

Saracens -4, Bath 1-12, Northampton 1-12 (double for small stakes if you don’t want to have a big bet

Rabo Pro12 Betting.

We love the Rabo for rugby betting – it’s a great league, but again, nothing really appeals here in the handicaps except maybe Leinster to hammer the Dragons. It’s an absolute minefield across this league this weekend. Best to let it settle down and see how things pan out.

The Rugby Championship Betting.

We don’t have an individual section on this because we’re not investing much either game. Australia and South africa is one to leave alone as you couldn’t back either the way they’ve been playing lately.

New Zealand’s handicap has been contracting versus Argentina. It was up around -29 but has come in as low as -24. The weather is due to be awful, and Argentina are going to try to do exactly what Ireland did and contain New Zealand in the wet. I don’t think Carter being out weakens them too much as Cruden is more than capable, but you couldn’t be overly confident that they’ll beat be the best priced -24 in Stanjames (-26/27 elsewhere). That is unless you think they’ll have learned from their Irish game. Still, there will be missed kicks, Savea went missing for the entire 80 minutes against Ireland and he may do so again tomorrow. One to avoid probably on balance. The one saver for New Zeland handicap backers is that NZ will want the four try bonus point to really nail down the tournament win. Thats 20 points, and say, two kicks going over and two missed in the wind. Throw in three or four penalties and you have New Zealand scoring roughly 35 points. Your question then is whether you think Argentina will score a try or two. If not, back the -24 in Stanjames. Maybe they learned a lesson after Ireland.

Don’t forget to head over to our forum for further discussion

Super 15, Friday June 29th, two quick picks

I’m usually quite cautious betting on Super 15, but this year there seems to be an inordinate amount of tight 1-12 margin games occurring, so we’re having a punt for the morning.

There’s two main games we’ve been having a look at for this weekend and both are on Friday morning.

Highlanders v Chiefs 8.35 GMT, Sky sports

The highlanders have won five from seven at home, and also beat the Chiefs away in week 1 (albeit slightly fortunately). The Highlanders simply have to win this game for their quest for qualification to remain a realistic one. On the other hand. the top of the table Chiefs can cement a playoff place with a win here. There’s a bit of rotation on both sides, but most of the All Blacks involved in the Irish drubbing are back.

The general consensus here is that the Chiefs will have enough to win this but i’m not convinced. They don’t have to win as the Highlanders do, and I’m going to bet that the Irish series will have taken a fair bit out of the likes of SBWilliams, Cruden (who is carrying an achilles issue), and Cane.

    Highlanders to win by 1-12 points is 9/4 in Bet365. The team with the greater need in rugby is usually the one to back at the business end of the season. If they win, they likely won’t beat them by a big margin so the 1-12 is the way to go ( Ignore the 1-10 at slightly higher prices- a last minute kick or breakaway converted try and you’ll be kicking yourself)

    Highlanders/Chiefs Half time /Fulltime is 6/1 in ladbrokes. You could view this as a min-hedge. You’d expect the Highlanders to come out strongly at home, but there’s a chance the quality in the Chiefs side shines through in the second half to nick it.

Rebels v Reds, 10.40 GMT, sky sports.

There’s 15 points separating these teams in the table, with the Reds still harbouring a realistic hope of qualification for the playoffs. The recent average score between these two teams is Reds 32, Rebels 9. The fact is that the Reds simply have to win this game, and clearly have the beating of the Rebels. There’s only one winner here for me- and that’s the Reds. The only question for us was just by how much. Cooper is named in the starting lineup for the Reds, and Beale is at full back for the Rebels. Beale is still rusty- as demonstrated against Wales in the final test, and Cooper will no doubt need to shake off the cobwebs too. This is Mortlock and Al Campbell’s last game for the Rebels in Australia aswell, so there should be a bit of extra effort from the home side. One other important thing is that it’s set to be raining in Melbourne, which should help towards neither team running away with it

    The Reds 1-12 is best price 15/8 in Ladbrokes, and we’re on it. The Reds have to win this , but we’re banking that they’ll do just enough to come through without demolishing an emotionally motivated home sid.

If you fancy a small stakes double on the Highlanders/Rebels 1-12, the best combo is offered by ladbrokes at about 19/2 . We’ve also had a sneaky longhot punt on the Ht/ft double of Highlanders/chiefs, and Rebels/Reds. Both weaker teams on paper to come out and lead at half time and the favourites to claim the win in the second half. The double comes in at at just under 50/1 across the board in paddypower, stanjames and skybet

Toulon v Biarritz Rugby betting preview, Challenge cup final, Friday May 17, 2012, 20:00 GMT, Twickenham Stoop.

The hors-d’oevres before the rugby main course on Saturday.

Not half as much attention is paid to this cup as the Heineken, but it is nonetheless a riveting competition.  It is most definitely a useful stepping stone to greatness, and a convenient viewpoint for us punters to get some form on up- and -coming ( and down-and-going!) teams and players. And the fact is, it is silverware, something every team wants. Despite having less prestige that the Heineken, no team (aside from maybe Munster!) will give this title anything less than the respect it deserves (once they’re on the verge of reaching the knock-out stages anyway).

Friday night’s Rugby Challenge cup final sees Blanco’s aristocratic babes (sans benoit baby) up against the wealthy upstarts from Toulon. Biarritz had a… Continue reading Toulon v Biarritz Rugby betting preview, Challenge cup final, Friday May 17, 2012, 20:00 GMT, Twickenham Stoop.