The second round of matches in the new season.
Friday 22nd February
6.35am GMT Highlanders v Reds
The Highlanders began the new season with an excellent 30-27 win away at the Chiefs despite being reduced to 14 men by a sending off whilst this is the Reds first game of the season, hoping to improve on last season’s disappointing performance with only 6 wins in 16 games
The Highlanders are 19 point favourites here at 10/11 with Skybet, a familiar tale of a big handicap for a New Zealand side at home to an Australian one and a watching brief for so early in the season and the Reds first game.
Saturday 23rd February
4.15am Sunwolves v Waratahs
The Sunwolves finished bottom of the 2018 table with three wins in 16 games and started the new season disappointingly losing 45-10 at home in Japan to the Sharks, who look set to improve on their 7-1-8 record last year that saw them secure the eighth and final play-off spot where they ost to top seed Crusaders
The Waratahs are 20 point favourites here at 10/11and should cover.
6.35am Crusaders v Hurricanes
Last season’s Champions Crusaders are going for their third successive title and won narrowly in week one 24-22 at the Blues and here they meet their closest New Zealand conference rivals from recent seasons the Wellington Hurricanes who squeaked past the Waratahs 20-19 in Sydney in round one
I like the Crusaders to cover -6 at 10/11
8.45am Brumbies v Chiefs
The Brumbies disappointingly lost in Round 1 27-34 at home to the Melbourne Rebels following on from an only seven win season in 2018. They face a tough task here against the Chiefs who lost in the first round to the Highlanders but were an 11 win side last time round
I think the Chiefs will cover -8 at 10/11 on the spread
1.05pm Sharks v Blues
The Sharks won in round one in Japan and look set to challenge the Lions for supremacy in the South African Conference this season. The Blues were very disappointing in 2018 with only 4 wins but showed a much improved performance in going down only 24-22 to the champion Crusaders in round one
The Sharks are 4 point home underdogs and I think they can beat the spread at a minimum at 10/11
3.15pm Stormers v Lions
The Stormers were desperately disappointing in round one in Pretoria losing 40-3 to the Bulls and face a tough game here against the best South African team of recent years the Lions who hafe reached Super League finals. The Lions went to Argentina in round one and won 25-16 at a venue at which they have had problems in the past.
The Lions are 8 point away favourites at 10/11. I expect the Stormers to rebound, this is a game to watch
9.45pm Jaguares v Bulls
The Jaguares lost in round one 25-16 and hope this season to build on the successes of a nine win season that saw them take several notable scalps. This won’t be easy against the Bulls who looked very impressive beating the Stormers in round 1 a notable improvement on a six win season last time
I like the Bulls -1 at 10/11 probably the strongest bet of the week.