The 2019 Super Rugby Finals get underway this weekend! Eight teams will square off in the quarter finals kicking off on Friday night. See our preview and tips for all four games below
The Crusaders will kick off their Super Rugby title defence against a familiar opponent this Friday. They'll face the 8th placed Highlanders, who just scraped into the finals by a single point! They got the job done against the undermanned Waratahs last week 49-12 and other results went their way in the end. But the task of playing the Crusaders in Christchurch is always a tough ask. The two sides have only met once this year and it was played at this venue with the Crusaders winning 43-17. They've also won the last 2 meetings here, 45-22 and 17-0. So looking at the Crusaders 27-1 SU home record and 5-2 ATS record against the Highlanders at home, it's hard to go past the Crusaders at the line in this one.
An impressive Super Rugby regular season saw the Jaguares claim the South African conference with an 11-5 record. They also head into this finals matchup with a 6 game winning streak and a 6-2 home record. However, the Chiefs are one of those sides that beat the Jaguares in Argentina and should be confident of an upset. Their start to the 2019 season was slow but they've hit form at the right end of the season. They smashed the Rebels 59-8 in Melbourne to qualify for 7th spot and previously recorded an impressive 40-27 win over the Crusaders in Fiji. Both sides did finish in the top 4 for points scored in Super Rugby so this figures to be a very close margin of attacking Rugby. As such, all 3 meetings between these two sides have finished under a 5 point margin and interestingly, the away team is 3-0 SU. So the value looks to be either team winning this battle by under 8.5 points.
Westpac Stadium features the 12-3-1 Hurricanes up against the 8-6-2 Bulls. In terms of the standings, this is 4th vs 5th but based on win-loss records, the Hurricanes are the 2nd best team in Super Rugby behind the Crusaders. As a result, they're well favoured to win this home matchup. They come into the finals with nice form having won 4 of their last 5, which includes 2 impressive victories in South Africa over the Lions and Sharks. They won 6 of 8 at home in 2019 and hold a dominant 22-3 SU home record since 2017. For the Bulls, they smashed the Lions 48-27 at home last week in a perfect tune-up for this clash. Their last trip to New Zealand should give them good confidence considering they drew with both the Highlanders and Blues. In the end, the Bulls line does offer good value but the Under does look enticing with a high stakes final in play. The total points has only beaten 48.5 points in 2 of the last 7 meetings and as a result, I’ll be taking the Unders here.
Saturday night’s finals action will conclude at GIO Stadium as the ACT Brumbies take on the Sharks. Starting with the Brumbies, they are the form side in Super Rugby after 6 wins on the trot and take huge favouritism into this final. As well as the hopes of Australian Rugby! However, only 1 of those 6 wins were against a top 8 side (Bulls) and the streak includes 2 wins over the lowly Sunwolves. So the Sharks are definitely a chance of causing an upset if they bring their best Rugby to Canberra. Their record against ACT is quite good so the chances are high. They've won 2 of the last 4 meetings here and the 2 losses were close games. Another factor is their away record in 2019, where they actually performed better on the road compared to home games (4-3-1 vs 3-5). So in the end, this should be a tight final and will be played in cold Canberra conditions. Which should see this game go Under the total. The Sharks allowed just 9 points last week and they finished the regular season as the 2nd best defensive team in Super Rugby. The under has a positive record at GIO this year at 5-3 as well.
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