The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 11 of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
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To take advantage of odds before they possibly shorten, these previews are published before the team sheets are announced. Those who are more risk-averse may prefer to wait for the squad lists before wagering.
Friday, 29 April
Reds vs. Chiefs
The Reds led 17-0 after 30 minutes but conceded 30 unanswered points to fall 17-30 to the Hurricanes in Melbourne last week. They sit 4th on the standings with a 7-2 record.
The Chiefs commenced their Trans-Tasman campaign with a 51-27 win over the Waratahs. They took advantage of the NSW side shooting themselves in the foot with ill-discipline to jump out to a 22-3 lead. The Waratahs fought back to close the deficit to 3 points at the 50-minute mark before the Chiefs showed their superior class to pull away as comfortable winners.
Betting: the Reds’ only win over a Kiwi side last season was over the Chiefs, however over the last 12 months they’ve gone 1-6 as the underdog while the Chiefs have gone 4-1 as the away favourite. I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.38 (Unibet).
Force vs. Blues
The Force’s game against Moana Pasifika was postponed last week due to a covid outbreak in the Perth squad. The week prior the injury-hit squad fell 24-41 at home to the Waratahs to slide to 2-6 for the season. The damage was done in the opening 17 minutes, by which time the Force found themselves 0-24 down. Slow starts have been an annoying habit for the Perth side after they fell behind by double-digit deficits to both the Brumbies and Rebels before losing each of those games by a point.
The Blues overcame the Fijian Drua 35-18 last week to remain at the top of the competition standings with an 8-1 record. It was a poor performance by the Blues’ current standards but they were possibly suffering from a hangover after their momentous away win over the Crusaders the week before. The Blues are on an eight-game winning streak after they lost their opening fixture by one point.
Betting: the Force have gone 0-11 as the underdog over the last twelve months while the Blues have gone 13-1 as the favourite. The Force went 0-5 against Kiwi opponents last season but four of those defeats were by 1-10 margins. It’s hard to know what to expect for the margin in this match because it will be impacted by the Force’s injury and covid absentees. Given you can only get 1.06 odds for the Blues at the time of writing and 1.02 with some bookmakers, I will sit this game out.
Saturday, 30 April
Fijian Drua vs. Highlanders
The Fijian Drua made a good account of themselves but ultimately fell 18-35 to the Blues in Melbourne last week to slide to 1-8 for the season. Their physicality was good but they were unable to sufficiently capitalise on their promising moments.
The Highlanders slumped to 1-8 for the season after they fell 17-28 in a hard-fought contest to the Brumbies in Melbourne last week. The result highlights the Highlander’s drop-off from last season given they beat the Brumbies by 21 points last year. The Highlanders’ habit of losing close contests continues. Seven of their eight defeats this season have been by 1-12 points.
Betting: this will be the Fijian Drua’s first ever Super Rugby game on home soil. The line opened at +13.5 but quickly tightened to +11.5 for the hosts. The Drua lost by 17 points to the Blues on neutral ground so I will back them to improve on that against the out-of-sorts Highlanders. I would back the Fijian Drua +15.5 at 1.50 (Picklebet).
Waratahs vs. Crusaders
The Waratahs commenced their Trans-Tasman campaign with a 27-51 defeat to the Chiefs. They did themselves no favours as they conceded early red and yellow cards. The day was made worse by a season-ending injury to fullback Will Harrison. In addition, hookers Dave Porecki and Tom Horton both had to leave the field with head knocks. Prop Angus Bell has avoided suspension for his red card offence. Porecki and Horton will have to pass return-to-play protocols but at the time of writing the Waratahs are optimistic on that front.
The Crusaders saw off the Rebels 42-17 in Melbourne last week to move to 7-2 for the season. They only led 7-3 at halftime before finding some continuity in the second spell. It was a poor first half performance but with a bonus point win secured it was a case of mission accomplished for the Crusaders.
Betting: the Crusaders have gone 7-0 as the away favourite over the last twelve months while the Waratahs have gone 0-9 as the underdog. The line is a different story, however. The Waratahs have covered the line in their last four games against the Crusaders. The Waratahs have gone 10-4 at the line over the last twelve months while the Crusaders have gone 4-10 at the line as the favourite. Six of the Crusaders’ seven away wins over the past twelve months were by 13+ points, but I’m not convinced they will cover the line, which opened at -18.5 but has since blown out to -22.5. The Crusaders did beat the Waratahs by 26 points last season but the NSW side is much improved this season while the Crusaders have not been at their all-conquering best. I will back the Waratahs to improve upon last season’s head-to-head result and back them +26.5 at 1.56 (Picklebet). Those who want more risk can back the Waratahs +22.5 at 1.94 (Unibet).
Rebels vs. Moana Pasifika
The Rebels only trailed 3-7 at halftime against the Crusaders last week but were by far second best in the second half as the Crusaders ran out 17-42 winners. The Rebels remain 2-7 and tantalizingly close to the final playoff spot, however the 8th placed Force have a game in hand against Moana Pasifika.
Moana Pasifika’s covid curse hit for the fourth time last week when their game against the Force was postponed due to an outbreak in the Force squad. The postponement gave the Moana Pasifika some reprieve following their brutal make-up schedule over the prior weeks, but they will surely have to make that game up at some point, meaning a future scheduling headache.
Betting: Moana Pasifika’s last four defeats were all by 20+ points and three were by 30+ points, but last week’s bye will have given them a much-needed rest. Nevertheless I will side with the hosts. The Rebels are the more experienced side and their form has persistently improved as the season has wore on. I would back the Rebels in the head-to-head at 1.50 (bet365).
Sunday, 1 May
Brumbies vs. Hurricanes
The Brumbies were the only Australian side to beat a New Zealand opponent last week when they saw off the Highlanders 28-17 in Melbourne. Defence won the day as they suffocated the Highlanders’ offence. The Brumbies are 8-1 for the season and they sit just one point behind the competition-leading Blues.
The Hurricanes came back from 0-17 down to defeat the Reds 30-17 in Melbourne last week. They shot themselves in the foot in the first half with two yellow cards but can be proud of the comeback. The Hurricanes are now 5-4 for the season as they fight for a higher playoff seed than their current 6th spot.
Betting: the Brumbies have won 5 of their last 7 at home against the Hurricanes and they covered the line in 4 of their last 5 home fixtures against the Wellington side. The Hurricanes have gone 1-5 at the line away from home over the last twelve months and 0-4 at the line as the away favourite. I would back the Brumbies +6.5 at 1.55 (Picklebet). Those who want more risk can back the Brumbies +3.5 at 1.89 (bet365).
Best Bets of the Round
Brumbies +6.5 at 1.55 (Picklebet)