The second full weekend of Super Rugby matches in the new season. Games are as follows
All prices from Bet365, all times are GMT
Friday 2nd March
6.35am Blues v Chiefs
The first action in Round 3 of Super Rugby 2018 sees the Blues clash with the Chiefs in Auckland on Friday and both these teams finished on the losing side in their opening matches of the tournament.
The Blues were involved in a good game away to the Highlanders last weekend. They came out on the wrong side of the result in Dunedin, eventually going down 41-34 despite leading 24-17 at half time. The lead changed hands a number of times and the Blues scored 4 of the 9 tries and one of the key factors in the match came on 54 minutes when the Blues had a man sin binned and the Highlanders made them pay.
The Blues were generally 6.5 point underdogs on last week’s handicap and their last win in a New Zealand derby came back in Round 1 of 2016 when they edged out the Highlanders 33-31 in Auckland.
The Chiefs also lost their opening match of the tournament, going down 45-23 to the Crusaders in Christchurch. The Crusaders pulled away in the closing stages of the match scoring 3 tries in the final 10 minutes. At half time the Chiefs were just 2 points in arrears (19-17) and they got their noses in front briefly in the second half but the try count ended 7-2 in favour of the Crusaders.
Aside from 2 defeats to the Crusaders last season the Chiefs won 4 and drew 1 of their NZ derby matches including 3 wins at the start of the campaign, away to the Highlanders and at home to the Blues and the Hurricanes
This is expected to be a close game, outright odds have the Chiefs marginal 10/11 favourites and -1 on the handicap. Modest preference for the Blues as Even money home underdogs here.
9am Reds v Brumbies
The Queensland Reds host the Brumbies in Round 3 of Super Rugby in Brisbane on Friday; the Reds are looking to recover from a poor start to the season whilst the Brumbies bid to make it two wins from two
The Reds crashed and burned 45-19 away to the Rebels in their first action of the tournament. They made the worst possible start with Higginbotham picking up a red card on 10 minutes when the score was 0-0. The Reds still managed to score 2 tries in the first half and another in the second but they trailed 26-14 at the break and the second half was largely one way traffic and many punters who seized on Rebels -4.5 points early in the week were in the money.
The Reds have won just 3 of their last 14 Australian derby matches in Brisbane
The Brumbies travelled to Tokyo for their opening match against the Sunwolves last week. They were trading in the region of 17.5 point favourites in the early handicap exchanges and although they won the game the margin was much narrower with the final score clocking in at 32-25. The Brumbies were behind 19-15 at the break but went on to score 5 tries in total, conceding 3 and failing to secure a bonus point.
The Brumbies are 4/7 outright favourites and -5 on the handicap, which is a bet I like
Saturday 3rd March
4.15am Sunwolves v Rebels
After losing their opening match of the tournament to Australian opposition the Sunwolves have another crack at a conference rival when they host the Rebels in Round 3 of Super Rugby in Tokyo on Saturday.
The Sunwolves were around 17.5 point underdogs on the handicap for last week’s clash with the Brumbies at this stadium. At half time they led 19-15 but they couldn’t hold off the Brumbies in the second half and they went down 32-25. The Sunwolves scored 3 tries and conceded 5 and they delivered for plus handicap backers whilst also breaking through their total points line which the bookmakers had set at 20.5.
The Sunwolves remain stuck on a total 3 Super Rugby wins earned over the course of the previous 2 seasons
The Rebels made the most of a numerical advantage for 70 minutes of last weeks home game against the Reds in Melbourne. The 45-19 victory saw the Rebels break their points and tries record for a Super Rugby match and with 7 tries scored (3 conceded) they earned a bonus point which took them to the top of the first Australian Conference standings.
The red card for the Reds last week was obviously a major factor but the Rebels have already equalled the 1 win they picked up in the whole of the 2017 campaign and are 8 point handicap favourites here. Not a game I will be betting on.
6.35am Crusaders v Stormers
The Stormers cross from Australia to New Zealand for a Round 3 Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday and this looks as tough as it could get for the visitors.
The Crusaders began their defence of the Super Rugby title with a 45-23 home win over the Chiefs in a NZ derby last week. They led for most of the game but it was close at half time (19-17) and only in the final 10 minutes did they make the game safe in terms of the scoreboard when 3 of their 7 tries were chalked up. In the end the Crusaders easily covered the pre match handicap which saw them go off 7.5 point favourites and the bonus point saw them go top of the first show of the NZ Conference.
After starting their campaign with a 28-20 home win over Jagaures the Stormers lost their first tour match 34-27 to the Waratahs in Sydney last week. The Stormers scored 3 tries to the Tahs 4 and decisive one came right on full time as the NSW franchise took advantage of a loose line out throw to deny the Stormers a draw.
On paper Sydney last week looked the most likely source for the Stormers to win overseas with this game followed by a visit to the Highlanders. The Stormers conceded between 41 and 57 points in losing their 3 matches in New Zealand last season and they have lost 8 in a row in this country.
The Crusaders are -16 on the handicap(10/11 ) and I wouldn’t be surprised to seethem cover here
1.05pm Sharks v Waratahs
The Sharks return from a bye and their first Super Rugby home fixture of the season is Saturday’s clash with the Waratahs in Durban
The Sharks sat out Round 2 and they now bid for a first win of the season after going down 26-19 to the Lions in their opener in Johannesburg. They had their chances to take more than a losing bonus point from that game which saw a total of 7 tries scored, 4 to the Lions, 3 to the Sharks and the pre-match handicap of 7.5 points was pretty much on the button.
The Waratahs started their season at home to the Stormers in Round 2 and a last gasp try handed them a 34-27 victory. The game was level at half time and looked set to end in a draw until they pounced on a poor line out throw to seal the win. The handicap in that game was set in the region of 8.5 points and they went off as favourites and the total try count came in at 7.
The Sharks are 5 point handicap favourites here, in a gae where the line looks about right
3.15pm Bulls v Lions
After starting the campaign with an upset win over the Hurricanes, the Bulls take aim at the Lions in Round 3 of Super Rugby at Loftus on Saturday
The Bulls entered the fray in Round 2 and they immediately pulled off a surprise, coming through a tough test against the Hurricanes at Loftus with a 21-19 victory. The Bulls were 15.5 point underdogs with some bookmakers for last weeks clash but they led 16-12 at the break and held on in a game of 6 tries, 3 for each side.
The Lions made it 2 wins from 2 with a 47-27 home win over Jagaures. They covered a handicap that was set in the mid teens, scoring 7 tries and conceding 3 and they are top of the overall log with 9 points whilst in the SA Conference they are 4 points better off than the second placed Stormers.
The Lions had started their season with a 26-19 home win over the Sharks, a scoreline that accurately reflected the pre-match handicap which was set at around 8.5 points. The Lions scored 4 tries and conceded 3 in that game and their record in South African derby matches in recent times is formidable with the Lions having also won every derby in 2017 and 2016.
The Lions are 11 point favourites here away from home. Will take a modest view on the Bulls +11 to keep it close at 10/11
9.00pm Jaguares v Hurricanes
The final action in Round 3 of Super Rugby sees Jaguares host the Hurricanes on Saturday night with Canes looking to bounce back from a shock defeat last week.
Jaguares return empty handed from a 2 match tour of South Africa after losing 28-20 at the Stormers and last week they went down 47-27 at the Lions. They were underdogs for both those matches but the defeats leave them rock bottom of the South African Conference and they now have 5 successive home games in which to improve their prospects.
The Hurricanes were 15.5 point favourites with some bookmakers for last weeks visit to the Bulls but they went down 21-19 in a game where both sides scored 3 tries. The Canes never seemed to find anything like top gear at Loftus in what was their first action of the tournament and a losing bonus point will be scant consolation. They now prepare for a first visit to Buenos Aires although they did put this opponent away in Wellington in 2016, the only meeting between the sides so far.
The Hurricanes should bounce back here and cover -14 at 10/11