We are back to a full seven game slate in the Super Rugby season this weekend! Matta91 is here to preview every game in Round 16, getting underway with the Blues vs Bulls on Friday night
Both the Blues and Bulls will be looking to rebound from a loss as they meet at Eden Park on Friday night. For the Blues, a 5-8 record has them within reaching distance of the top 8 so they need to win this clash. The good news is they do hold a 3-1 home record against the Bulls since 2010. Meanwhile, the Bulls come off a 22-10 loss in Canberra and now head to New Zealand for two games. At 7-6 on the season, they're still a chance of winning the South African conference. In the end, the Blues should win this home game considering their 5-2 record at Eden Park this season. They've also covered in 4 of their last 5 night games against the Bulls.
AAMI Park features an Australian rivalry matchup with the 7-6 Rebels up against the 5-8 Waratahs. The Rebels are chasing the top spot in the Australian conference and the Waratahs season is on the line here. So the stakes are massive for both sides. Melbourne will get a boost as Will Genia has been cleared to play and they'll take warm favouritism into this clash despite a poor record against the 'Tahs. Since 2010, NSW is 14-2 SU against them and they won the only meeting of the season 23-20 in Sydney. The Rebels home form lately has been a bit concerning considering they've lost twice to South African sides and just beat the Reds. Meanwhile, the Waratahs last 5 games have all finished under a 9 point margin. So in a close Australian battle, back either side to win this by under 12.5 for a safe bet.
Saturday's Super Rugby action begins in Japan with the 2-11 Sunwolves hosting the 7-6 Brumbies. ACT have won their last 3 games, which were all in Canberra. So they should have no trouble against the Sunwolves, who are playing for pride. The Rebels put up 52 points on them last week and the Brumbies held them scoreless in Canberra just a few weeks ago (33-0). With the Brumbies holding the top spot in the Conference, they'll be desperate for a bonus point and this could get ugly if the Sunwolves don't bring their defence.
Fiji sees it's first Super Rugby game of the season as the Chiefs take on the Crusaders this Saturday. The Chiefs kept their season alive with a 19-13 win over the Reds last week, but they'll need to overturn an 0-5 record against the Crusaders. Last round, the Crusaders held off the Blues for a 19-11 win and they're huge favourites to continue their dominance of the Chiefs. However, the venue may play a difference for the Chiefs considering they've won 2 of 3 here since 2016, which includes a close loss to the Crusaders in 2017. Last season, they also thumped the Highlanders 45-22 in Fiji. If the Crusaders continue to rest players before the World Cup/Finals campaign, get on the Chiefs at the line in what should be a close NZ rivalry matchup.
It's rare to see the Jaguares as road favourites but their form is impressive at the moment as they face the Reds at Suncorp. The Argentian side has won 4 of their last 5 and that includes an away win over the Hurricanes. Meanwhile, the Reds season looks to be over after 3 close defeats in a row. While they did beat the Jaguares in the last clash, 18-7 in Argentina. The Reds form at this stage suggests they won't be able to match the high flying Jaguares.
This is an intriguing clash on Saturday night as the 6-6-1 Sharks host the 9-3-1 Hurricanes in Durban. The Sharks will be coming off a nice 27-17 win on this turf last week but will be underdogs against the 'Canes. The New Zealand side had the bye last week as they travel to South Africa for a 2 game road trip. They were beaten before the bye by the Jaguares 28-20 so expect them to be fired up and keen to consolidate their 4th spot in the standings. Interestingly though, their record in Durban is quite poor with 3 straight heavy defeats since 2011 where the average losing margin is 17 points. So the Sharks are looking a good bet against the line if they play like they did last week. They're 5-2 ATS against the Hurricanes as well.
The Lions and Stormers reignite their rivalry on Sunday morning as they meet in Jo-Burg. In the earlier season meeting, the two sides played in a thriller as the Stormers rallied for a 19-17 victory. So hopefully, the two sides play another close one. For the Lions, they'll be looking to respond on their home turf after losing to the Sharks 27-17 in Durban. They've won 2 straight close games at this venue against the Highlanders and 'Tahs, so they should be hard to beat. But the Stormers are showing good form lately. They beat the Highlanders 34-22 at home last week and drew with the Crusaders previously. In the end, I don't see a blowout in this matchup as the last 2 meetings have been decided by an average of 2.5 points! So either team to win by under 8.5 points is paying good value.
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