Super Rugby’s regular season concludes with a full slate of matches this weekend ahead of the knockout stages
The matches are as follows, prices from Bet365 and all times BST.
Friday 14th July
8.35am Highlanders v Reds
The Highlanders go into their first game after the International series break in fourth place in the New Zealand conference and seventh in the combined standings and set to travel to the Lions in South Africa in the first round of the play offs and narrowly lost their last game before the break 25-22 at the table topping Crusaders, preventing any hopes of advancing up the table.
The Reds meanwhile went into last weekend’s game at home to the Brumbies with only three wins all season and nothing to play for here in another disappointing season. They then won 16-15 as 6 point home underdogs in an upset result
Here in New Zealand the Reds are 22 point underdogs for the game at 10/11. Not the easiest line to assess, expecting the Highlanders to win by more than three scores, so no bet
10.45am Rebels v Los Jaguares
The Rebels have recorded one win all season and lost at the Force last weekend 31-22 having lost their last three games previously by 29, 22 and 27 points
Argentina’s Los Jaguares meanwhile where recording a creditable 40-27 victory at the Waratahs and continue their Australian tour to end their season in Melbourne. Last week was only the Jaguares’ second win in nine games
The away side have been installed as 8 point favourites here. At 10/11, expect the to cover this line against one of the two weakest sides in the competition.
6pm Kings v Cheetahs
South African teams Cheetahs and Southern Kings are set to join the Northern Hemisphere Pro12 competiton next season as both franchises are victims of the Super Rugby restructuring/consolidation next season so this is their last game in the competition.
The Kings are at least leaving the competition on the back of a semi-successful season, now with six wins after beating the Bulls away last weekend as nine point underdogs. The Cheetahs meanwhile have won 3 of 14 games and two of those were against the bottom of the table Sunwolves.
The Kings at 8/11 outright is a bet or 10/11 -2 on the handicap
Saturday 15th July
4.05am Sunwolves v Blues
The Sunwolves head back to Tokyo for their last game after very poor results in Suth Africa with a 94-7 loss to the Lions followed by losing 52-15 in Cape Town to the Stormers last weekend.
The Blues are the least successful of the New Zealand franchises this season with a 7-6-1 record and won’t be in the play-offs, but will still be heavy favourites to win here and indeed are quoted at -31 on the points spread. I don’t see why the Sunwolves would keep the score within this spread, so -31 Blues at 10/11 is the tecommendation.
6.15am Chiefs v Brumbies
The Chiefs look set to finsh third of the five New Zealand franchises, and will therefore head to the Stormers in the play offs. They have won 11 and drew 1 of their 14 regular season games and should be big favourites to beat the best of the Australian sides the Brumbies here.
The Brumbies lost 16-15 to the lowly Reds last weekend and will be by far the weakest of the play off teams, in the post season by virtue of winning the weakest conference in the competition. They have only won 6 of 14 games this season
The Chiefs are quoted at -17 points on the spread, and I think they too will coverat odds of 10/11.
8.35am Hurricanes v Crusaders
This is the stand out game of the weekend and sees the first placed and unbeaten Crusaders travel to the Hurricanes, second in the New Zealand conference.
The Crusaders have won the conference and enter the play offs as the number one seed and will host the Sharks. The Hurricanes meanwhile are set to travel to the Brumbiesas the highest placed of the wild card teams.
This should be a close game and odds reflect this with the Hurricanes 5-6 favourites, the Crusaders evens and +1 on the handicap. This is only a marginal view but I would take the Crusaders at Evens here.
10.45am Force v Waratahs
The Force won their fifth game of the season at home to the the Rebels in Perth last weekend. Five wins is good enough for second in the Australian conference.
The Waratahs lost at home to Los Jaguares, and have only won four games all season. The Force are odds against here, 6/5 and +2 on the handicap. 6/5 is probably one of the best bets of the week.
4.15pm Sharks v Lions
Both teams are headed to the play offs from Africa Conference 2, which the Lions have won with 13 wins out of 14 games on their way to a home quarter-final.
The Sharks will enter the play-offs as the eighth seed and facing a trip to the unbeaten Crusaders and lost a fortnight ago 30-17 at home to the Bulls
The Lions are -8 here. In a closely contested derby conference game the normal temptation is to take the home team getting the points but there is quite a gap between the teams this season. I will just watch this game, no bet.
6.30pm Bulls v Stormers
The Stormers have won African Conference 1 and will be the 3rd seed headed into play offs. They won 40-34 at the Cheetahs last week. A fortnight ago the Bulls won at the Sharks 30-17 but then lost at home last weekend to the Kings 31-30 to blot theirend of season copybook. They have only won 4 games all season
The Stormers-4 at 10/11 is another very attractive line this weekend.