Round 3 of the 2020 Super Rugby season kicks on Friday night with another double-header in NZ/AUS, starting with the Blues looking for an upset over the Crusaders. As usual, we have a full betting preview of the round below.
The Blues return home in Round 3 with the toughest challenge in Super Rugby, beating the Crusaders. The home side is coming off their first win of the season as they dominated the second half against the Tahs in the 32-12 result. While they haven't beaten the Crusaders in the last 10 meetings, they've rarely been blown off the park in the last few games, which includes a 24-22 result at this venue in Round 1 last season. While for the Crusaders, they started well against the Chiefs last week but fell away in the 25-15 defeat. But Richie Mo’unga is expected back which should improve the Crusaders scoring potential. Considering the Blues have a decent margin record against them, we do like them as a home underdog. Their last 2 home losses against the Crusaders average a 5 point margin and they should be confident after a road victory in Aus.
The Australian affair on Friday night takes place at AAMI Park with the Rebels home opener against the Waratahs. Both sides have had a terrible start to the season, especially defensively. They both allow on average 37.5 points per game so this could be a high scoring affair between two teams that just can't defend their line. However, the Waratahs will likely miss leading try-scorer Mark Nawaqanitawase after a head knock last week. So with the Rebels at home for the first time this season and looking to break a six-game losing streak against NSW, we'll back them in.
Saturday's Super Rugby action begins in Tokyo with the Sunwolves massive underdogs against the high-flying Chiefs. The Japanese side comes off the bye and they started 2020 in perfect fashion with a home win over the Rebels. However, the Chiefs just knocked off the Crusaders and are proving to be a tough side to beat in the second half. They've run down the Blues and Crusaders in both games this season and that should test the Sunwolves defence. Interestingly, the Sunwolves did beat the Chiefs last season in New Zealand so the underdog line does seem juicy at a massive 20.5 pts. The Chiefs could be a little bit flat after two tough conference matchups and travel could be a factor as well.
This should be a very interesting clash in Wellington as the Hurricanes meet the Sharks. The 'Canes rebounded from a poor first-up loss in South Africa with a huge win over the Jaguares in Argentina, 26-23. So they'll be keen to continue the momentum in their first home game of the season. Meanwhile, the Sharks have been really impressive in their 2 games thus far. They snapped a losing hoodoo against the Bulls at home and then smashed the Highlanders last week 42-20. Aphelele Fassi was the star with 2 tries and 4 clean breaks. They continue to be underrated in the betting markets as +6.5 underdogs again so we'll continue to back their form at the moment.
It's the Brumbies up against the Highlanders on Saturday night and the home side will be aiming for 11 straight home victories. They've knocked off the Reds and Rebels in consecutive weeks and just continue to get the job done on their home turf. They meet with the Highlanders and they were disappointing in their first outing of the season, going down 42-20 against the Sharks. But the good news is, they do have a good record against ACT. They've won their last two against them at this venue and also smashed the Brumbies 43-17 in the last meeting (April, 2018). While this is a tough trip to Canberra, the fact they have winning form at this venue should help them bounce back from a poor defensive showing against the Sharks. The average margin between the two sides in Canberra is 5.5 points so we do like the value on offer for the either team bet.
The South African affair in Round 3 takes place in Jo'Burg with the Lions looking for back-to-back home wins. They recovered after a 38-8 thrashing in Argentina with a 27-20 win over the Reds. But they will face a massive task against the Stormers after their red-hot start to the season. Incredibly, they have not allowed a single point in either game! Last week, they outlasted the Bulls 13-0 and also thrashed the Hurricanes 27-0. The main difference in Round 3 will be the venue after they've played two home games and they don't have a great record in Johannesburg. They've lost the last two meetings, 41-22 and 52-31. Although we can't see the Stormers defence allowing 40+ points again so in a tough battle between two South African rivals, we're liking the value for either team by under 8.5 points.
The Queensland Reds continue their road-trip to Argentina this Sunday morning as they meet the Jaguares. For the Reds, they're coming off a decent effort in South Africa with a close 7-point loss against the Lions. The fact that they did beat the Argentian side in the last meeting here in 2018 is a good omen as well. The Jaguares will be keen to bounce back from a close loss to the Hurricanes last week at this venue in the 26-23 result. So the Reds have shown a bit of fight this season with close losses against the Lions and Brumbies which shows they can compete with the Jaguares. So we'll take them on at the line considering their win at this venue in 2018 and their team confidence looks much improved at the moment.
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