The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 7 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.
Tuesday, 29 March
Moana Pasifika vs. Blues
Moana Pasifika pulled off the biggest upset so far this season by defeating the Hurricanes 24-19 in extra time last week. Due to covid disruptions it was only their third game of the season. Their previous results were a 12-33 defeat to the Crusaders and a 12-59 defeat to the Chiefs. Last week’s victory was due to Moana Pasifika’s improved defence, which looked poles apart from the week before.
The Blues saw off the Highlanders 32-25 last week to move to 3-1 for the season. They jumped out to an 18-3 lead and did enough to see off the Highlanders’ second half comeback. One piece of sad news is All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett had to leave the field with a concussion. He had only just returned from the concussion he suffered in November.
Betting: Moana Pasifika’s shock win last week has seen the head-to-head odds for the Blues rise. At the same time, the win will have shaken off any potential complacency for the Blues leading into this fixture. I would back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.13 (BlueBet, Unibet).
Friday, 1 April
Crusaders vs. Highlanders
The Crusaders beat the Chiefs 34-19 in Hamilton to avenge their home defeat to the Waikato side in Round 4. That home defeat clearly strung the Crusaders and it showed in the physicality they brought last week. They are now 4-1 for the season, which is the best record in New Zealand.
The Highlanders remain without a win this season after they fell 25-32 at home to the Blues last week. They can take heart from the comeback after trailing 3-18 at halftime, but once again it was the case of the Highlanders failing to put together an 80-minute performance. Their one-on-one tackling has also let them down.
Betting: the Highlanders comeback last week to achieve a respectable scoreline was arguably due to the Blues going into cruise control in the final 20 minutes. The Crusaders will be acutely aware of the fact that they lost the last time they hosted the Highlanders. As the Chiefs found out last week, the Crusaders aren’t fond of repeat occurrences. I expect the Crusaders will win but I’m torn on the winning margin market. Nine of the last eleven Crusaders’ home wins over the Highlanders were by 13+ points, however four of the Crusaders five home wins over the last twelve months were by 1-12 points and four of the Highlanders five away defeats were by 1-12 points. I will simply back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.16 (Unibet).
Fijian Drua vs. Waratahs
The Fijian Drua fell 27-42 to the Rebels in Melbourne last week to slide to 1-5 for the season. After trailing 6-28 with 15 minutes to go, the Drua had their customary late surge, but it wasn’t enough to cover the deficit this time. There remain plenty of positives to draw from, with the Drua putting up a whopping 674 metres gained and 45 defenders beaten. They just need to work on ball retention, with the 18 turnovers conceded undoing their good work.
The Waratahs fell 20-32 to the Reds in wet conditions in Queensland last week. This was despite enjoying a one-man advantage for ten minutes and a two-man advantage for another ten minutes. The Waratahs were under-strength for the game due to a combination of covid and injuries, but the Reds looked the more developed side. The Waratahs are now 3-3 for the season and remain well in the hunt for a playoff spot. Wallabies captain Michael Hooper might return this week.
Betting: the Fijian Drua play attractive rugby but their lack of a Test match approach to structures is their undoing. The Waratahs should win comfortably. As always with the Drua, I’m wary of the winning margin and line markets because of their second half surges once the game looks out of reach and the opposition drops their guard. I would back the Waratahs in the head-to-head at 1.33 (Unibet). Those looking for more risk should consider the Waratahs in the half-time line market when those odds become available. Based on the -8.5 full-time line at the time of writing, I would expect something around -4.5 for the half-time line.
Saturday, 2 April
Blues vs. Moana Pasifika
A preview for this rematch will be published following their Tuesday night game.
Reds vs. Brumbies
The Reds survived simultaneous red and yellow cards to see off the Waratahs 32-20 in Brisbane last week. They are now 5-1 for the season and sit 2nd in the overall standings. This week gives the Reds the opportunity to exact revenge on the Brumbies for their 4-point defeat in Canberra in Round 5.
The Brumbies rested a few players and only just squeaked past the Force 39-38 last week. They led 20-3 until the game turned was on its head when Tom Banks picked up a red card and conceded a penalty try in the 29th minute. The Force went onto score three tries to one in the 20 minute period when the Brumbies were down to 14 men to set up a tense finish. The Brumbies held their nerve well at the end – something they have a good habit of doing – to secure the win. They sit top of the standings with a 6-0 record.
Betting: the last five meetings between the Reds and Brumbies were settled by 5 points or less. The Brumbies have been remarkably predictable over the last 12 months. They have gone 8-0 as the favourite and 1-6 as the underdog. Away from home they have gone 3-0 as the favourite and 0-5 as the underdog. Meanwhile the Reds have gone 5-0 as the home favourite and they have won their last six home fixtures against the Brumbies. I would back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.62 (Picklebet). Five of the Reds’ six home wins over the last 12 months were won by 1-12 points so those looking for more risk should back the Reds 1-12 at 2.50 (bet365). An alternative wager to the Reds head-to-head bet is to pair the Reds 1-12 selection with the Brumbies 1-12 selection at 3.10 (bet365), because history suggests this will be a close contest.
Sunday, 3 April
Hurricanes vs. Chiefs
The Hurricanes suffered a shock 19-24 defeat in extra time to Moana Pasifika last week. They dominated territory and possession but came unstuck with 16 conceded turnovers. It was the Hurricanes’ first game in three weeks due to covid disrupting the New Zealand schedule.
The Chiefs fell 19-34 at home to the Crusaders last week to move to 3-2 for the season. The game was firmly in the balance until twenty minutes to go when the Crusaders pulled away in their customary fashion.
Betting: the Hurricanes have gone 1-3 as the underdog and 0-1 as the home underdog over the last 12 months. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have gone 7-2 as the favourite and 3-1 as the away favourite. The Hurricanes have had the better of the Chiefs from 2018-2020 but the Chiefs completed the double over the Wellington side last year. I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.49 (Unibet). In the 14 games of data I have at hand, the Chiefs have never beaten the Hurricanes by more than 12 points in Wellington, so those looking for more risk should consider the Chiefs 1-12 at 2.50 (bet365).
Best Bets of the Round
Reds 1-12 at 2.50 (bet365)
Chiefs 1-12 at 2.50 (bet365)