The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 9 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, 12 April
Hurricanes vs. Moana Pasifika
The Hurricanes continued a trend of losing by narrow margins after they fell 21-24 at home to the Crusaders last week. They turned down a kickable penalty in the last minute to go for the win but it didn’t pay off as the referee made a controversial decision that went against them. This defeat was on the back of a 5-point defeat to Moana Pasifika and a 1-point defeat to the Chiefs. The Hurricanes are now 2-4 for the season and face two crucial games this week against the 1-5 Moana Pasifika and the 1-6 Highlanders.
Moana Pasifika fell 17-37 to the Highlanders in Dunedin last week to slide to the bottom of the table with a 1-5 record. They were only down by 7 points at half time but poor discipline undid their cause as Moana Pasifika conceded 16 penalties and two yellow cards. They now have the unenviable task of playing two games this round. The previous time they did so was against the same opponent, but this week they will be playing two different sides so Moana Pasifika will be at a great disadvantage in the second fixture.
Betting: there will be an element of revenge given the Hurricanes suffered a shock defeat to Moana Pasifika in Round 6. I don’t expect the Hurricanes will be caught napping this time but I’m not sure about the -19.5 line given both sides are fielding rotated squads due to the schedule. All five of Moana Pasifika’s defeats this season have been by 13+ points so I will back the Hurricanes 13+ at 1.45 (BlueBet).
Friday, 15 April
Crusaders vs. Blues
The Crusaders saw off the Hurricanes 24-21 in Wellington last week to improve to 6-1 for the season. In a game that resembled their Highlanders win the week before, the Crusaders held onto a narrow lead without either team scoring for the majority of the second half. While the Crusaders’ defence has allowed them to continue to pick up wins, their offence hasn’t been at its vintage best. Their last two victories were unconvincing so the Crusaders will have to lift if they are to see off the in-form Blues.
The Blues showcased their title credentials by thrashing the Chiefs 25-0 in Hamilton last week to move to 6-1 for the season. They completed the shutout despite picking up three yellow cards and playing with 13 men at one stage. The Blues now sit above the Crusaders in the standings for the first time this season. Their only defeat of the campaign came in their opening fixture by a 1-point margin. The Blues six-game winning run is the longest active streak in the competition.
Betting: betting on this game is a classic decision between the long-term trend and short-term form. On one hand, the Crusaders have won 14 straight against the Blues and 12 straight against them at home. The Crusaders have also covered the line in 8 of their last 9 home fixtures against the Blues. On the other hand, this Blues outfit is the best we’ve seen in many years and the Crusaders’ last two wins weren’t convincing. Both sides have defended well this season so I don’t expect either team to be blown away. I would back both the Crusaders 1-12 at 2.80 (Unibet) and the Blues 1-12 at 3.40 (Unibet).
Rebels vs. Reds
The Rebels overcame a red card to defeat the Force 22-21 in Perth last week to improve to 2-5 for the season. The result was in stark contrast to the 3-28 defeat the Rebels suffered against the Force in Round 2. The turnaround highlights the Melbourne franchise’s continued improvement following their horror start to the campaign. It was the first time the Rebels have won as the bookmaker’s underdog in over 12 months and most importantly it keeps them in the race for a playoff spot.
Prior to their bye last week the Reds avenged their Round 5 defeat to the Brumbies by defeating them 21-7 at home. The Reds players had a point to prove after only 8 of them were selected for the Wallabies training squad that week, compared to 15 Brumbies and 10 Waratahs. The win was made sweeter by the fact that the Reds won despite conceding a red card, however the frequency with which they have been picking up red cards is a concern.
Betting: the Rebels’ win last week was largely due to the Force shooting themselves in the foot with poor discipline. I expect the Reds, fresh off a bye, will be too strong. The Reds have won five straight against the Rebels and the Queenslanders have gone 7-1 as the bookmaker’s favourite over the last 12 months. The Reds have also gone 5-1-0 as the away favourite against the Rebels over the past few years. I would back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.28 (bet365). Given the Rebels have gone 1-4 at the line as the underdog over the last 12 months while the Reds have covered the line in three of the last four games as the away favourite against the Rebels, those looking for more risk should consider the Reds -9.5 at 1.93 (bet365).
Saturday, 16 April
Chiefs vs. Moana Pasifika
The Chiefs suffered a chastening 0-25 home defeat to the Blues last week. The result was a surprise given the Chiefs had only lost by 2 points to the Blues earlier in the season. All three of their defeats this season have been to the Blues or Crusaders. Last week’s defeat was made worst by the news that All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown has been ruled out for six months with a shoulder injury.
At the time of writing Moana Pasifika have yet to complete their Tuesday night game against the Hurricanes. This preview will be updated following the conclusion of that match.
Friday, 15 April
Highlanders vs. Hurricanes
The Highlanders picked up their first win of the season when they saw off Moana Pasifika 37-17 in Dunedin last week. They led 17-10 at halftime before running out comfortable winners as Moana Pasifika’s penalty count racked up. The Highlanders will be relieved to have won but to win again this week means they will have to overcome an 8-game losing streak to Kiwi opposition.
At the time of writing the Hurricanes have yet to complete their Tuesday night game against Moana Pasifika. This preview will be updated following the conclusion of that match.
Saturday, 16 April
Force vs. Waratahs
The Force put in a terrible, ill-disciplined performance and suffered a 21-22 home defeat to the Rebels last week to slide to 2-5 for the season and 0-3 at HBF Park. It was their second consecutive one-point defeat and it came despite them out-scoring the Rebels 3 tries to 1. The Force now have a fight on their hands to make the playoffs.
Prior to their bye last week the Waratahs defeated the ill-disciplined Drua 38-14 to improve to 4-3 for the season. The game saw Wallabies captain Michael Hooper make his successful return from injury. It wasn’t their best performance but it didn’t need to be as they let the Drua shoot themselves in the foot.
Betting: the last three meetings between the two sides were settled by 5 point or less and the Waratahs’ two wins over Australian opposition this season were both by 5-point margins. I would back both the Force 1-12 at 3.05 (Unibet) and the Waratahs 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet). The Force have lost three of their last four games while the Waratahs have won four of their last five and are fresh off a bye, so those looking for more risk should simply back the Waratahs 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet).
Best Bets of the Round
Reds in the head-to-head at 1.28 (bet365)