The following is a preview with betting tips for the Quarterfinals 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, 3 June
Crusaders vs. Reds
This is a replay of last week’s clash, which the Crusaders won 28-15 after leading by 21-3 at halftime. It was the Crusaders 10th consecutive win over the Reds and their 7th consecutive home win over the Queensland side. In team news, flyhalf Richie Mo’unga and hooker Codie Taylor are expected to return after missing last week with injury.
The Reds limp into this fixture on the back of five consecutive defeats to New Zealand teams. They can take heart, however, form their improved second half showing against the Crusaders last week. To put last week’s result into context, the Reds lost by 27 points to the Blues a few rounds earlier. Without the injured James O’Connor, the Reds will be hard pressed to upset the Crusaders given the host side will field a stronger squad this week.
Betting: the Reds have been predictable from a results standpoint over the last 12 months. They have gone 8-1 as the favourite and 0-7 as the underdog. Four of the Reds’ five away defeats over the last 12 months were by 13+ so I would back the Crusaders 13+ at 1.48 (bet365). I’ve opted for that market over the 18.5 line because the Crusaders have only gone 2-6 at the line at home over the last 12 months. Those who are more conservative can instead opt for the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.08 (BlueBet).
Saturday, 4 June
Chiefs vs. Waratahs
The Chiefs squeaked past the Fijian Drua 35-34 in Fiji last week to snatch the 3rd seed away from the Brumbies. They led 35-13 with 14 minutes remaining but suffered a classic late surge from the Drua.
The Waratahs fell 17-20 at home to the all-conquering Blues last week to finish the regular season with an 8-6 record. The results have done much to bury memories of the Waratahs’ horrific 2021 campaign and it’s all the more impressive given they were able to claim two Kiwi scalps. I would be more optimistic about the Waratahs’ chances in this fixture, but they have a poor record against the Chiefs.
Betting: the Chiefs have won five straight against the Waratahs and the NSW side has gone 1-4 as the away underdog over the last 12 months. The Waratahs 3-point defeat to the Blues last week looks good on paper but the Blues had rotated all but one of their starters for that clash. I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.25 (bet365).
Blues vs. Highlanders
It took a drop goal a minute after the final hooter, but a rotated Blues squad defeated the Waratahs 20-17 in Sydney last week to extend their winning streak to 13 games. As I’ve stated before, the only Blues defeat occurred in their first fixture of the season and that was by a one-point margin. The title is theirs to lose based on current form.
The injury-hit Highlanders squeaked into the finals due to a superior points difference over the Force after they fell 30-31 to the Rebels in Melbourne last week. This was on the back of their 12-point home defeat to the Waratahs as the Highlanders’ typically strong form against Australian opponents became unstuck. They finished the regular season with a 4-10 record so current form doesn’t suggest an upset is on the cards.
Betting: the Highlanders have had an injury-impacted season and they have gone 1-9 as the underdog over the last 12 months. They have lost five consecutive away games as well as three consecutive games against the Blues, who have gone 15-1 over the last 12 months. To their credit, the Highlanders have yet to lose by 13+ away from home over the last 12 months and only 1 of their 11 defeats during this period was by more than 13. I will stay clear of the line and margin markets and simply back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.16 (Unibet).
Brumbies vs. Hurricanes
The Brumbies fell out of the top three in the final week after they suffered a shock 22-32 defeat to Moana Pasifika at Mt Smart Stadium last week. It was their third consecutive defeat following two home losses to the Crusaders and Blues. Those two losses were understandable but last week’s defeat came on the back of a really poor Brumbies performance, likely due to the Canberra side playing that fixture with one eye on the finals.
In yet another upset result from last week, the Hurricanes fell 22-27 to the Force in Perth. They have still hung onto 5th place with an 8-6 record and like the Brumbies, they possibly played last week’s game with one eye on this week’s quarterfinal.
Betting: the Brumbies have won their last three home games against the Hurricanes. The most recent win was by a 42-25 margin one month ago. The Brumbies have gone 8-1 as the favourite over the last 12 months and 4-0 as the home favourite. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.62 (bet365).
Best Bets of the Round
Blues in the head-to-head at 1.16 (Unibet)