Round 2 of the Super Rugby season kicks off with another Friday night double-header and the highlight of the round will be the Chiefs taking on the Crusaders. We got off to a solid start in Round 1 of the season, hitting 3/6 bets but we'll be looking to improve with more data to go on as we head into the 2nd week of action.
After a first-round bye, the Highlanders kick off their Super Rugby season by hosting the Sharks at Forsyth Barr Stadium. They've lost a wealth of experience in the offseason so it could be a rebuilding season for the team from Dunedin. Meanwhile, the Sharks started the season in perfect fashion with an important victory over the Bulls in Durban, 23-15. With an upcoming 4 game trip to NZ/AUS, the Sharks will be keen to begin their tour with an upset here in Dunedin. They have won 3 of the last 5 meetings with the Highlanders and we like their chances of covering the line.
The Friday night double-header heads to Canberra once again in Round 2 as the Brumbies host the Rebels. In sweltering conditions last week, the Brumbies outlasted the Reds as they continued their hot form at GIO Stadium (9 straight wins). The Rebels were disappointing against the Sunwolves going 36-27. Similarly to last year, their defence is just not getting the job done. But interestingly, they do have a sound record against the Brumbies with 4 straight wins. The last 3 clashes have been decided by a penalty goal twice and a converted try. So in an important Australian conference matchup, look for a close contest and the Rebels to rebound with a better performance.
The highlight of Round 2 should be the rivalry clash between the Chiefs and Crusaders. For the home side, they stormed home against the Blues as the return of Aaron Cruden sparked them in the second half. Meanwhile, the Crusaders outclassed the Waratahs at home with a 43-25 victory in a perfect start to their title defence. In the head to head, the Chiefs finally broke through last season with a huge 40-27 victory in Round 16. But overall, the Crusaders have the wood over them and the fact that the Chiefs struggled in the first half against the Blues last week could trouble them in this matchup. So we'll have to take the Crusaders at the line in what should be a high scoring affair.
Both sides will look for their first win of the season as the Tahs take this home game to Newcastle. The home side will be coming off a tough loss against the Crusaders in NZ. But they may have found a player in Mark Nawaqanitawase after his double in the second half. It's a similar story for the Blues after they were run down by the Chiefs at Eden Park. When these two sides meet, it's generally going to be a close one and the odds reflect that once again in Round 2. The Blues open as slight favourites but there likely won't be much separating the two teams. As such, the last 2 clashes have been decided by a penalty goal and that should see the either team bet come into play here.
The Lions return home to South Africa for their first home game of the season and will be looking to respond from their disappointing 38-8 loss in Argentina. Their defensive woes of last season continued but they were also unable to score points against the Jaguares defence. However, they should have an easier time against the Reds. While the Reds almost produced a huge upset in Canberra, they now face the toughest trip in Super Rugby and its especially difficult after playing in 40-degree temperatures last week. They lost 44-14 against the Lions in their last meeting at this venue so this could get ugly if the Lions bring their A-game.
It's an all South African affair on Sunday morning with the Stormers hosting the Bulls in Cape Town. The Stormers were super impressive in Round 1 as they shutout the Hurricanes 27-0. But the win has come at a cost with skipper Siya Kolisi picking up a knee injury. The Bulls started their season in Durban and couldn't get much going with the ball in hand as they lost 23-15. They were unable to find the try line but the boot of Morne Steyn kept them in the contest. However, it doesn't bode well for their attack considering the Stormers just kept the usually attacking Hurricanes scoreless in 80 minutes. In the last 4 clashes between the two sides, the home side has recorded a 4-0 record and the Stormers have won the last 2 at home by the 1-12 margin. So we do like the value on offer for 1-12 once again.
It doesn't get much easier for the Hurricanes as they head to Argentina on the back of a 27-0 loss against the Stormers in South Africa. Especially since the Jaguares kicked off the season with a 38-8 thrashing of the Bulls. The departure of Beauden Barrett definitely hurts this 'Canes team and they'll also need to be more disciplined after giving up plenty of penalties / yellow cards against the Stormers. So it's a tough ask for the away side after the Jaguares performance last week. They were great in defence and finished strong with 4 second-half tries. They've won their last 2 home games 38-8 and 39-7 so it's hard to look past them at the line.
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