The Super Rugby season continues on Friday night with a New Zealand conference matchup between the Crusaders and Highlanders. Just the sex games over the Round 4 weekend but still plenty to look forward to. As usual, we have every game covered in our betting preview below.
It's a South Island rivalry to start the round with the Crusaders hosting the Highlanders on Friday night. While the Crusaders conceded the first try against the Blues last week, they went on to score 25 points to 3 in the 25-8 victory at Eden Park. They have a great record against the Highlanders with 3 straight large victories and they haven't lost at this venue in 31 games! For the Highlanders, they're coming off a massive comeback win over the Brumbies. They trailed 22-16 after the 80 minutes but a converted try in the 83rd minute saw them earn a crucial road victory. However, their defence will be tested by the Crusaders, who are scoring 35.8 points per game and that will be the main key in this contest. While we do see the Crusaders taking the points, they are without their captain Scott Barrett and the line is just too large at the moment.
TIP: No Bet
The Rebels are back in Melbourne on Saturday as they meet the Sharks from Mars Stadium, Ballarat. They showed a much improved defensive effort against the Tahs last week as they recorded their first victory of the Super Rugby season, 24-10. With 3 of their next 4 games at home, the Rebels can really set up their season in the next month. Meanwhile, the Sharks road-trip continues to Australia after a 38-22 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington. They picked up a few injury concerns in the defeat so this tour is proving to be a tough one. The Rebels do have a woeful record against overseas teams when they're the home underdog as they've lost 11 straight games and hold a 1-7 ATS record. But considering they're coming off a win and the Sharks injury woes, this should be a close battle. So the either team bet looks good value.
The Brumbies head across the ditch for the first time in 2020 and will be keen to avenge a shocking last-minute defeat to the Highlanders in Round 3. They led 22-16 into stoppage time but the Highlanders scored a late converted try to end the Brumbies 11 game winning streak at GIO Stadium. The trip to NZ won't be any easier as the squad is battling a case of the mumps as well! The Chiefs lead the NZ conference after 3 straight wins and they dominated the Sunwolves last week in Japan, winning 43-17. They also have a great home record against Aussie teams with 11 wins on the trot and they haven't lost to the Brumbies in Hamilton since 2007. In saying that, the last clash saw the two sides battle hard in a 24-19 result and ACT also smashed the Chiefs last season 54-17 in Canberra. So we do like the Brumbies to keep this under a 17.5 point margin.
Suncorp Stadium sees its first Super Rugby action of the year as the QLD Reds are back at home to face the Sunwolves. Queensland had arguably the toughest fixture in the first 3 rounds with trips to Canberra, Jo'Burg and Argentina where they finished winless. Last week's loss to the Jaguares was especially disappointing after they scored 4 first-half tries but conceded 31 second-half points in the 43-27 defeat. The Sunwolves travel for the first time this season after recording a 1-1 split at home. They upset the Rebels by 9 points in Round 1 but were no match for the Chiefs last week in a 43-17 loss. The trip to Brisbane shouldn't worry them considering they held their own last year in a 32-26 loss. The Reds don't have a great line record in home matches on Saturday at 0-7 ATS and we have to consider their travelling factor during the early rounds.
We have a battle between the two top sides in the South African conference on Sunday morning when the Stormers meet the Jaguares in Cape Town. After not conceding a point in the first two rounds, they played in a tough battle against the Lions last week and came away with a huge 33-30 road victory. They sealed the deal in the 82nd minute and now head home with their sights on a 4-0 start. Meanwhile, the Jaguares were slow starters against the Reds but stormed home with 31 points in the second half as they cruised to a 43-27 victory in the end. After 3 straight home games, they now head to South Africa for a 3 game trip and have a nice overseas record at 6-1 ATS. But playing the Stormers in Cape Town is another story. The home side haven't conceded a point at the venue in 2020 and have also beaten the Jags on 3 straight occasions at home. So we'll be taking on the home side to lead throughout this contest.
Round 4 concludes with an expected close battle between the Bulls and Blues in Pretoria. While the Bulls are winless in their 2 games against South African opponents, they should be highly motivated in front of their home crowd for the first time this season and they're coming off a bye. The Blues travel to South Africa with a poor away record having lost 10 of their last 11 away from Eden Park. So with the Bulls currently home underdogs, this does seem good value. The Blues do get Rieko Ioane back from injury and that should improve their attack which is scoring just 15 ppg. However, the Bulls have covered in seven straight Saturday night matches at home and we expect them to win their first game of the season.
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