Approaching the mid-season break in this competition for International matches, the Crusaders and Hurricanes continue to lead the way at the top of the combined standings
Fixtures this weekend are as follows. All times are BST and all prices William Hill
Friday 18th May
Hurricanes v Reds 8.35am
The Hurricanes beat the Blues last Friday 36-15, their ninth win in ten matches this season as they chase the Crusaders at the top of the New Zealand conference.
Meanwhile in Japan, the Reds put in a very disappointing performance losing to the previously winless Sunwolves 63-28. The Reds have only won 4 of their 10 games this season, conceding 106 point more than their opponents.
Of course this is slated to be one of the most one sided games of the weekend The Hurricanes are -27 at 10/11 on the points handicap. If the Reds can lose by 35 points to the Sunwolves, this might be a generous handicap to the home side. -27 it is!
Saturday 19th May
Sunwolves v Stormers 6.15am
As above, the Sunwolves beat the Reds 63-28 to win their first game of the season, one of the surprise results of the season. Meanwhile the Stormers lost narrowly at home to the Chiefs, 15-9 in a tight game in which they performed creditably. With five wins from their 12 games they are now bottom of the South African conference.
The Sunwolves are 11 point underdogs for this game. I think they are probably worth chancing with the points advantage
Blues v Crusaders 8.35am
The Blues are the worst of the New Zealand franchises this season and lost 36-16 at home to the Hurricanes last weekend, their eighth loss in 11 games.
The Crusaders head the overall standings with nine wins out of eleven and beat the Waratahs 31-29 last week in a far closer match than most expected, and had to come from a long way behind to win too. It is nevertheless not easy to see why a team that lost by 21 points to the Hurricanes last week should only lose by ten this week to a team of similar quality. Crusaders +10 at 10/11 for me
Waratahs v Highlanders 10.45am
The Waratahs nearly pulled off one of the shocks of the season only to lose at the Crusaders 31-29 right at the end of the game, With a 5-1-4 record at the top of the Australian conference they now host the Highlanders who beat the Lions 39-27 last week and have now won 7 of their ten games so far this season.
The point spread here is influenced by the Waratahs’ near miss last week and they are only 6 point underdogs to what is a much superior team. Albeit away from home the Highlanders should be supported at +6
Sharks v Chiefs 2.05pm
After their great win the week before against the Highlanders the Sharks rather fell to earth last weekend when losing 39-33 at the Bulls. The Sharks are now 4th of 5 teams in the South African conference with 4 wins and a draw from their 11 games
The Chiefs record of seven wins out of ten games is only good for fourth in the New Zealand conference. Last week they beat the Stormers in Cape Town 15-9 and now travel across South Africa to Durban where they are 4 point favourites to win. The Chiefs -4 at 10/11 for me
Lions v Brumbies 4.15pm
The Lions lost again on the New Zealand tour 39-27 at the Highlanders and now have a won six lost six record at the top of the South African conference. The Brumbies meanwhile lost 27-24 at home to the Rebels and in a very disappointing season are now second bottom of the Australian conference with 3 wins in ten games
This is a great chance for the Lions to return to form and of course this is factored into the point spread to an extent with the Lions -15 at 10/11. No bet
Los Jaguares v Bulls 10.40pm
Los Jaguares are up to second in the South African conference with 6 wins from 11 games and in with a chance of the play offs after a stunning run of games in New Zealand where they beat the Blues and Chiefs after two wins in Australia.
The Bulls beat the Sharks 39-33 for a fifth win of the season in eleven games but they shouldn’t live with this resurgent Argentinian side, and Los Jaguares should be supported at -4 at 10/11.