The last round of the 2018 Super Rugby season is here and there’s a number of storylines to watch throughout this weekend of action.
The Chiefs host the Hurricanes at FMG Stadium Waikato on Friday in one of the best games of the round. The two sides are destined for the finals and this will be a good test before they begin their hunt for the Grand Final. For the Chiefs, they just beat the Brumbies last week by 5 points to record their 10th win of the season. They’ve gone 5-2 at home so far but will be underdogs in this one. The Hurricanes finally ended a 3 game losing streak with a 42-24 win over the Blues. They did beat the Chiefs 25-13 in April but I’m still not sold on their form at the moment. The last 3 meetings at this venue have all finished in an 8 point margin and I can see another close finish.
On Friday night, the 5-10 Reds and 3-12 Sunwolves meet at Suncorp Stadium in a dead rubber. After last week’s result, the Reds should be confident of ending the season with another win. They beat the Rebels in an interesting game 37-23 at home. In contrast, the Sunwolves couldn’t match the Waratahs attack in a 77-25 result. They’ve never won an away game in Super Rugby from 22 attempts. Interestingly though, they smashed the Reds 63-28 in May and only lost 35-25 in the last meeting at Suncorp. So while I see the Reds winning, the Sunwolves should be able to keep this close.
Forsyth Barr Stadium plays host to the 9-6 Highlanders and 7-8 Rebels in Super Rugby action on Saturday. This is a huge game, mainly for the Rebels. They’re currently sitting in the finals bracket but a loss could end their chances. Last week, they couldn’t seal their spot in a 37-23 loss to the Reds and it’s going to be a tough trip to New Zealand. The Highlanders are coming off back to back 45-22 losses. But they’ve been playing against tougher opposition in the Crusaders and Chiefs. They’ve never lost to the Rebels at home in 3 games. The last time they met, the home side thrashed them 51-12 as well. So the 13+ bet is good value as I can’t see the Rebels defence keeping this close.
This is truly a contrasting game with the 1st placed Crusaders taking on the struggling Blues. The home side is 7-0 in home games this season and they rank 2nd for points scored. The Blues don’t have a bad record in away games this season with 3 wins from 7. So they could spring an upset. Especially with the Crusaders likely to rest players with their finals position already secured. Which is the main question mark in this matchup. If the Crusaders rest players, take the Blues at the line. Otherwise, steer clear of this game.
Note: This tip is on the proviso that the Crusaders rest players
The Australia rivalry between the Waratahs and Brumbies continues this Saturday at Allianz Stadium. The Waratahs are starting to find form after their 3rd straight win, which is perfect timing with the finals about to begin. They ran riot against the Sunwolves defence last week in a 77-25 victory. However, the Brumbies should keep this alot closer. They’re coming off a gallant 5 point loss in NZ against the Chiefs. Previously, they also beat the Hurricanes 24-12. They probably can’t reach the finals so upsetting the Waratahs finals position would be a motivating factor. They’ve also won the last 2 against them in Sydney and just lost 24-17 in the earlier matchup this season. So I like the Brumbies at the line. The home side is 3-6 ATS in night games at this venue.
On Saturday, the Lions are playing host to their foe the Bulls at Emirates Airlines Park. The Lions had the bye last week and will be looking for another victory over them. They’ve won the last 3 meetings and have scored 49 or more points in those victories. The Bulls are coming off a 43-34 win over the Jaguares at home. However, they’ve been a woeful away side in Super Rugby this year. They hold a 1-6 record and have conceded 32 points per game. At home, the Lions score 35 points per game and have scored 40+ in their last 2. So Lions at the line.
The Sharks host the Jaguares at Growthpoint Kings Park in the last game of the season. Which depending on a few of the earlier games, could have an impact on the finals. The Sharks are just outside the finals on 32 points and sit behind the Rebels by 3 points. So they’ll be rooting for the Highlanders to beat the Rebels and then, they need to take care of business against the Jaguares. At 9-6, the Jaguares are sitting 7th in the overall standings and their first finals appearance beckons. However, they suffered a 43-34 loss to the Bulls last week and will need to tighten their defence. The Sharks are 5-1 in home games and they took down the Lions 31-24 in their last game here. They’ve also won the last 2 at home against the Jaguares by a 1-12 margin. So I see huge value in that bet, especially if they can still reach the finals.
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