The highlight if this weekend’s matches is a top of the table clash between the Crusaders and Hurricanes in Christchurch
All prices are William Hill, all start times are BST
Friday 25th May
8.35am Crusaders v Hurricanes
First and second in the New Zealand conference meet in a game that might end up deciding top seeding for the post season. The Crusaders have won 10 out of 12 this season in this competition and last weekend won in Auckland at the Blues 32-24 in a closer game than may expected. The Hurricanes have won 10 out of 11 and showed the best attacking form in the tournament. Last week they were run far closer than expected by the Reds before inning 38-34.
This should be a close game but the Crusaders are only priced up at -1 at 10/11. I think they will win and therefore in all likelihood by more than a point, so that is the bet.
10.45am Rebels v Sunwolves
The Rebels return from their bye week with 5 wins out of 11 which is nevertheless good enough for second place in the weak Australian Conference. The Sunwolves followed up their shock win last week by beating the Stormers 26-23 last weekend in Hong Kong in an even bigger surprise. That’s two wins in a row for a side that lost their first nine games of the season.
Given their improving form the Sunwolves can be supported at +17 at 10/11 against inconsistent opponents.
8.40pm Sharks v Los Jaguares
Los Jaguares spectacular run of five successive wins in a row, the latest last weekend in Buenos Aires when they beat the Bulls 54-24, has taken them to a 7-5 win loss record and second place in the South African conference and seventh in the overall league table. Their opponents this weekend the Sharks have now beaten two New Zealand franchise the Highlanders and last weekend the Sharks in the last three weeks both at home.
With an overall record of 5 wins and a draw in 12 games the Sharks are just about in post season contention and are priced up as 6.5 point underdogs at 10/11 here. With their home form good and the price heavily influenced by the Jaguares recent run, they are worth chancing as home underdogs.
Saturday 26th May
8.35am Waratahs v Chiefs
Last week’s upset win, 41-12 over the Highlanders in Sydney, was the first time an Australian franchise has beaten a New Zealand one in 42 attempts! The Waratahs lead the conference and are well placed for a home quarter final. Despite last weekend’s loss to the Sharks the Chiefs have a 7-4 win loss record and provisional sixth place in the play-offs. Given last weekend’s results Waratahs +8.5 points at 10/11 has to be interesting.
10.45am Reds v Highlanders
The Reds nearly pulled off one of the upsets of the season running the Hurricanes close before losing 38-34 last weekend. The Reds have lost 7 of 11 this season. The Highlanders suffered a surprise 41-12 loss to the Waratahs and now travel up to Queensland on their Australian tour of away games.
They are installed as 12.5 point favourites here and taking them with that start is flying in the face of recency but I can’t trust the Reds. Probably a no bet game.
2.05pm Brumbies v Bulls
The Brumbies were beaten 42-24 by the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend. In a poor season they have only won 3 of 11 games and understandably enough are home underdogs here,+8.5 points at 10/11 to a Bulls side with only five wins all season themselves and who conceded 52 points in Argentina last weekend. Again this isn’t a game where I can pick a side on the point handicap with any confidence no bet.
4.15pm Stormers v Lions
The final game of the weekend sees a South African derby. The Stormers lost in Hong Kong last weekend and are bottom of the South African conference with 5 wins out of 13. Their opponents the Lions are top of the conference, and last year’s finalists are only 6 point favourites here. They should be supported at 10/11