• Neal Hoogwerf

Super Rugby Preview: Week 1

Blues vs Chiefs

The Blues will be seeking to kick off their campaign by toppling their Waikato rivals. Much has been made of the Blues being the perennial under performers of Super Rugby, but exciting additions in Beuden Barrett (only available in April) and Joe Marchant have brought excitement to the Auckland region. The Chiefs are entering this season with a new coach and missing superstar Brodie Retallick who will be plying his trade in Japan. The Blues have covered 6 of their last 7 handicaps against the Chiefs and 4 out of their last 5 handicaps against NZ opposition. There is a serious chance of an upset here and that’s the way that I am siding.

Best Bet: Blues +2.5 @ 0.9

Brumbies vs Reds

This is an interesting match up as the Brumbies will be looking to continue their 2019 form, where as the Reds are a youthful squad looking to stake a claim in the Australian conference. The Brumbies, after losing the influential Christian Lealiifano, seem very short at the current price with 20 year old Noah Lolesio set to don the number 10 jumper for the game. While the Reds have failed to cover the handicap in their last 5 away games in Canberra, I feel that tide is going to turn and the Reds offer good value on the cap. The Reds covered the handicap in three of their last four road games and I expect that strong form to continue into 2020.

Best Bet: Reds +7.5 @ 0.9

Sharks vs Bulls

The Friday Super Rugby comes to an end where the Sharks tackle the Bulls in Durban. Conditions are set to be very hot and humid, playing into the tactical astuteness of both sides. The Sharks have seen a clear-out in the off season where several influential players, including the Du Preez family, all sought greener pastures abroad. The Bulls will be missing star pivot Handre Pollard, but have brought in the experienced Morne Steyn to nurture up-and-coming playmakers in Manie Libbok and Chris Smith. The Sharks boast a near full Springbok backline and I expect the Sharks to get the business done in Durban, despite covering only 1 of their last 5 handicaps at home.

Best Bet: Sharks -3.5 @ 0.9

Sunwolves vs Rebels

It is difficult to have any sort of confidence for this Sunwolves side entering their Super Rugby swansong. Despite the hugely successful Japanese RWC campaign, most of the participants will not be in the 2020 Sunwolves squad. There is big excitement around 16 cap English centre Ben Teo’o, however one marquee signing doesn’t guarantee results in Super Rugby. The Rebels are losing halfback combination in Quade Cooper and Will Genia, but should have enough quality to push for the Australian conference. I expect the Rebels to be targeting a bonus point which could become crucial at the backend of the competition. With that being said, I expect the Melbourne side to cover the spread.

Best Bet: Rebels -16.5 @ 0.9

Crusaders vs Waratahs

The Crusaders enter the 2020 season as reigning champions and as favourites, yet again, to be lifting the trophy come July. They shouldn’t have any trouble topping a Tahs side that I expect to struggle in 2020. It is difficult to bet against the likes of Richie Mo’unga, Will Jordan, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece and co doing the business in Nelson on Saturday. There is not much confidence for a much changed Tahs side and it will be one way traffic up until the final whistle. The Tahs are enduring a 9 match losing streak to the Crusaders in NZ and the Saders have covered 3 of their last 4 games in Super Rugby.

Best Bet: Crusaders -18.5 @ 0.9

Stormers vs Hurricanes

The Stormers will be looking to draw inspiration from the heroics of the Springbok triumph in Japan. Boasting a Boks laden pack, they will look to dominate the set pieces and play direct rugby with new signing Jamie Roberts providing a similar game line momentum role to the vacancy left by Damian de Allende. The Canes have not beaten the Stormers at Newlands since 2006 and will be heading to the game without All Black forwards in Dane Coles and Ardie Savea. The Stormers are traditionally strong at home and have covered 6 of their last 7 games against the Canes and I see it being no different on Saturday.

Best Bet: Stormers win @ 0.9

Jaguares vs Lions

The Jaguares will be looking to pick up where they left off after making the final in 2019. A much changed Lions outfit shouldn’t pose too much of an obstacle and I expect the Johannesburg side to struggle again in 2020. The Lions are still being overrated by the bookmakers and have covered the handicap in just 2 of their last 7 games. The Jaguares have been menacing on home turf, covering their last 5 games at home. This could get ugly for the Lions in Argentina.

Best Bet: Jaguares -8.5 @ 0.9

All bets can be found at:

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