Games this weekend are as follows
All prices are from Bet365
Friday 30th March
7.35am GMT Chiefs v Highlanders
The Chiefs beat the Sunwolves 61-10 in round 6 scoring 9 tries and easily covering a 23 point handicap in betting markets.
The Chiefs now have three wins from four matches and are now third in the New Zealand conference ahead of the Highlanders on points difference.
The Highlanders were 5 point underdogs against the Hurricanes in Wellington and lost 29-12, and lost their first game of the season. Last year the Highlanders only won 1 of their 4 away New Zealand conference matches
A close game is expected here. In outright terms it is the Chiefs 10/11 Highlanders 21/20 and it is Chiefs -1 at 10/11 on the handicap. I expect the Chiefs to win and cover, and will be backing them outright.
9.45am Rebels v Hurricanes
The Rebels top the overall standings with 4 win and a single defeat and have a 7 point lead over the Reds in the Australian conference. Last week they beat the Sharks 46-16 in Melbourne picking up a fourth bonus point of this season. In 2017 the Rebels really struggled against New Zealand sides losing all five of their matches by an average margin of 35 points and haven’t beaten a New Zealand side since 2015. They are a much improved team this year though.
The Hurricane won for the third successive match beating the Highlanders 29-12 and have won 8 of their last 9matches in Australia. They are currently second in the New Zealand conference.
The home side the Rebels are priced up as +11 at 10/11 on the handicap. I expect the Hurricanes to win but am tempted by +11 the Rebels
Saturday 31st March
7.35am Blues v Sharks
The Blues come off their bye week with one win from their four matches and against South African sides have beaten the Lions and lost to the Stormers so far this season. The Blues are the weakest of the New Zealand sides and bottom of the conference.
The Sharks have just played two matches in Australia, losing both to the Brumbies and Rebels and have 1 win a draw and three defeats so far this season. The Sharks now play two games in New Zealand.
The Blues have been installed as 13.5 point handicap favourites. They will probably cover but its not a bet I could have with any confidence.
9.45am Brumbies v Waratahs
The Brumbies gained their second win of the season beating the Sharks at home 24-17 last weekend and now face the Waratahs who are just ahead of them in the Australian conference with two wins, a loss and a draw from their four matches.
Neither side is the force of old as the balance of power has shifted towards the Rebels and it’s a measure of how the Brumbies have slipped this season that they are 6/4 outright and 4 point home underdogs here in an Australian derby. It’s a no bet game for me but I expect the Waratahs to win
5.15pm Bulls v Stormers
In the South African conference the Bulls have only one win from their five games and now host the Stormers who after their win at home against the Reds last weekend are second in the conference with three wins and three losses from their six games
The Stormers are the stronger side here and can be backed -3 points on the handicap at 10/11
Sunday 1st April
1.30pm Lions v Crusaders
The Lions lead the South African conference with 4 wins and 2 defeats but last season’s Super Rugby finalists probably aren’t the team they were this time last year and a 49-35 loss at Los Jaguares last weekend is evidence of that.
Defending champions the Crusaders now travel to South Africa for a repeat of last year’s final. The Crusaders have lost to the Highlanders and Hurricanes this season but have never looked in trouble against sides outside their own conference in their three wins
I like them not on