The 2016 Super Rugby season is about to get underway and it is set to be a big year with three new sides added to the competition. The addition has forced a reshuffle of the format with eight teams qualifying for finals at the end of the regular season. Read our latest rugby betting tips as we offer our 2016 Super Rugby Round 1 Preview and Betting Tips.
Blues vs Highlanders (Friday, Feb 26 at 5.35pm AEDT)
The defending champions will kick-start their season on the road against the Blues that had a disappointing Super Rugby 2015 season. The home side has a dominant record against the Highlanders at Eden Park having won nine of their 12 encounters at the venue.
A lot of pressure will be placed on the shoulders of scrum half Aaron Smith to march his forwards around the field and the defence will have to be on its toes when he is around the ruck as he is always lethal with the ball in his hands. He will be the spark for the side and with such a dominant forward pack we are expecting the Highlanders to win the battle at the breakdown whilst constantly challenging at the line out and scrum. This will contribute to the 2015 champions getting off to a winning start in the new season.
Brumbies vs Hurricanes (Friday, Feb 26 at 7.35pm AEDT)
Super Rugby fans are gifted with a blockbuster match on opening night with these two sides expected to go all the way in 2016. The Hurricanes are looking for redemption after falling in the Grand Final last year after being the strongest side of the competition. They lost only two regular season matches throughout 2015 and they managed to maintain the majority of their roster, but there will be two big holes at the inside and outside centre position.
Beauden Barrett was one of the inform players of the competition before injury set him back and Dan Coles has been arguably the best hooker in Super Rugby having picked up the most line breaks and tackle busts whilst being solid on the defensive end with the second most tackles since 2012.
However, we are backing the home side to pick up the victory in their opening match on the back of the hard work from David Pocock. The flanker is able to have a constant impact on the match and is the best in the world at turning the ball over for his side at the breakdown. He is also a threat with the ball in his hands as he was able to cross for eight tries last season and he will be looking to steer the rolling maul when the Brumbies get a line out close to the Hurricanes line.
Cheetahs vs Jaguares (Saturday, Feb 27 at 4am AEDT)
The Jaguares will open up their 2016 Super Rugby campaign on the road against the Cheetahs. The first ever Argentinian side has a lot of expectations on their shoulders with their line up riddled with internationals. However, this is the strongest club competition in the world and the Jaguares should find it difficult to earn their first victory in South Africa.
The Cheetahs have always been known for their attacking flair and that mind set is likely to continue this season. You can expect a high scoring match between these two sides with both teams keen to avoid an early season loss. The bookmakers are expecting the Jaguares to earn the victory in this one but we will be predicting an upset with the home side getting a narrow victory.
Sunwolves vs Lions (Saturday, Feb 27 at 3.15pm AEDT)
The Japanese side will be making their Super Rugby debut against the Lions on home soil on Saturday. Unlike the Jaguares the Sunwolves have no expectations surrounding them and they are backed to struggle throughout their inaugural season. It wasn’t until late December when the side finally picked up a coach and began recruiting heavily which has left the side with little time to prepare for the season.
Meanwhile the Lions are coming off one of their strongest seasons as they narrowly missed out on a finals berth in 2015. They picked up huge victories against top opposition and were a constant threat to a lot of sides. Their strength is their forward pack and they will look to utilise that in this match up on the way to an easy victory.
Crusaders vs Chiefs (Saturday, Feb 27 5.35pm AEDT)
In another scintillating match up between two strong sides the Crusaders will be looking to overcome the disappointment of missing the finals last season whilst having to also move on from life with Dan Carter and Richie McCaw. The Crusaders have lost two of the three matches at home against the Chiefs however, despite this they are still seen as the favourites.
Former world player of the year Brodie Retallick will want to put an injury ravaged season season behind him and return to top form and we are predicting him to be instrumental in this match up with a lot of hard runs and tackles.
The loss of two of the Crusaders most experienced and talented players will be a big blow for the seven time champions and I am expecting a slow start to the season for them.
Waratahs vs Reds (Saturday, Feb 27 at 7.40pm AEDT)
The battle between states starts early this year with Queensland taking on New South Wales in the first round of the 2016 Super Rugby season. The Reds have lost a lot of stars with Quade Cooper, Will Genia, James O’Connor and James Hanson all heading to other clubs. To make matters worse for the side, injuries to Wallabies players James Slipper and Kane Douglas will sideline them for the majority of the season.
Meanwhile the Waratahs have a new coach with Daryl Gibson taking over the reigns from Michael Cheika. The side has an incredibly strong line up and they will be challenging the Brumbies for top spot of the Australian conference and come away with a win in this one.
Western Force vs Melbourne Rebels (Saturday, Feb 27 at 9.40pm AEDT)
These two sides have little expectations for the 2016 Super Rugby season with neither side managing to impress in any of their years in the competition. The Rebels young roster has been bolstered with the additions of internationals Adam Thomson, James Hanson and Jamie Hagan but it will come down to the halves pairing of Nic Stirzaker and Jack Debreczeni to make their mark on this encounter and lead their side to victory. Both players have showed signs that they will have international careers in the near future but they need to improve their game from promising to dominant. Meanwhile the Force are coming off a wooden spoon in 2015 and things aren’t looking much better for the side and they will be battling to avoid the bottom once again.
Kings vs Sharks (Sunday, Feb 28 at 12.05am AEDT)
The Kings return to Super Rugby after a two-year hiatus following their dismal 2013 season that saw them finish in last place. However, that is where the good news ends for the Kings as they are expected to struggle again and not be competitive throughout the season.
Meanwhile the Sharks are looking to put an injury-plagued season behind them that saw them miss out on the finals series. The side has done some solid recruitment whilst they managed to hold on to a lot of their talent. They will demolish the Kings in this one and get off to a strong start to the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Stormers vs Bulls (Sunday, Feb 28 at 2.15am AEDT)
The Bulls had high hopes heading into the 2016 Super Rugby season but their chances of reaching the finals took a massive hit with flyhalf Handre Pollard suffering a season ending injury. This will put a massive burden on the rest of the team to lift and replace such an instrumental player. His playmaking and goal kicking will be missed throughout the year.
Meanwhile the Stormers have been able to remain healthy and many experts believe they are the team to beat coming out of the South African conference. The player to watch will be Damien de Allende who is coming off a break out season in 2015 as he made the most tackle busts and metres gained by any South African player. He will no doubt make his presence felt in this one and lead his side to a victory on home soil.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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