The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 13 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, 13 May
Highlanders vs. Force
The Highlanders overcame two overlapping yellow cards to defeat the Reds 27-19 in Brisbane last week. The victory was made all the more impressive by the fact that it was their third consecutive game played in a different country to the preceding fixture. The Highlanders sit in a playoffs spot for the first time this season.
The Force fell 15-53 at home to the Crusaders last week. They were competitive in the first half and trailed by just 3 points early in the second, but were then blown away by the clinical visitors. The Perth franchise is now 2-8 for the season but they remain in touch of the 8th playoff seed, which is occupied by the Highlanders, who sit 3 points above.
Betting: the Highlanders are better than their 3-8 record suggests. They have gone 7-0 as the favourite over the last 12 months while the Force have gone 0-12 as the underdog. I’m on the fence regarding the 15.5 line so I will simply back the Highlanders in the head-to-head at 1.12 (Unibet).
Brumbies vs. Crusaders
The Brumbies continued their fine run against Kiwi opponents by defeating the Chiefs 38-28 in Hamilton last week. The hosts dominated possession and territory but the Brumbies defended resolutely and were efficient with the opportunities they had. This victory was on the back of wins over the Highlanders in Melbourne and the Hurricanes in Canberra. The Brumbies currently look like only Australian side capable of winning the title. They are 10-1 for the season and sit just 2 points behind the competition-leading Blues.
The Crusaders bounced back from their shock defeat to the Waratahs by thrashing the Force 53-15 in Perth last week. The win came despite them being forced into a late squad reshuffle due to health and safety protocols. The Crusaders are now 8-3 for the season and remain within striking distance of the 2nd placed Brumbies due to their haul of 7 bonus points to the Brumbies’ 3.
Betting: the Crusaders have won ten consecutive games against the Brumbies but the Crusaders this year aren’t of the same quality as those of previous seasons. The Brumbies have beaten New Zealand’s 3rd, 4th and 5th best sides, but the Crusaders will be their strongest challenge yet. I expect a closely-fought contest so will back both the Brumbies 1-12 at 3.30 (Unibet) and the Crusaders 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet).
Saturday, 14 May
Fijian Drua vs. Moana Pasifika
The Drua were thrashed 5-67 by the Hurricanes in Wellington last week. It was arguably their poorest performance of the season. This was perhaps a hangover from their efforts in their first true home game in Fiji the week before. The Drua are now 1-10 for the season and sit one point above Moana Pasifika in their quest to avoid the wooden spoon.
Moana Pasifika jumped out to a 17-0 lead but fell 20-26 to the Waratahs last week to slide to 1-9 for the season. They paid the price for a second half yellow card that led to the Waratahs scoring 12 unanswered points while Moana Pasifika were a man down. The new franchise sits at the foot of the overall standings but would leapfrog the Drua with a win this weekend.
Betting: either the Drua will end an 8-game losing streak this weekend or Moana Pasifika will end their 7-game losing run. The big question is whether the Drua can bounce back from last week’s horrific showing in which their structures fell apart. I see this game as a coin toss, so with the visitors installed as the underdog, I will take the value and back Moana Pasifika in the head-to-head at 2.25 (bet365).
Blues vs. Reds
The Blues made amends for their lacklustre win over the Force the week before by thrashing the Rebels 71-28 in Auckland last week to maintain their spot at the top of the standings with a 9-1 record. The game was virtually over by half time, by which time the hosts led 47-14. The Blues’ only defeat this season came in their first game and that was by a one-point margin. They achieved last week’s almost record-breaking tally despite resting All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett.
The Reds blew a 12-0 lead to suffer a disappointing 19-27 home defeat to the Highlanders last week. They have now slipped down to 6th in the standings. The Reds have performed consistently well against Australian sides. They won the Australian Super Rugby title last year and have gone 6-1 against Australian opponents this season. It’s a different story against Kiwi opposition, however. The Reds have only 2 wins from their previous 25 games against Kiwi opponents and they have gone 0-3 against Kiwi sides this season. In fairness, injuries didn’t help the Reds’ cause last week. James O’Connor, Taniela Tupou and Hunter Paisami were sidelined and Harry Wilson had to leave the field with a head knock.
Betting: at the time of writing it appears that James O’Connor is a 50/50 chance of returning in time for this clash. His return would certainly help the Reds’ cause, but I still don’t fancy their chances against the best Blues side we’ve seen in almost two decades. I would back the Blues in the head-to-head at 1.12 (Unibet).
Waratahs vs. Hurricanes
The Waratahs overcame a 0-17 deficit to see off Moana Pasifika 26-20 in Auckland last week to improve to 7-4 for the season. Perhaps they took their opponents too lightly following their upset win over the Crusaders the week before, but the Waratahs did well to keep their composure to secure the win. They sit 5th in the congested table standings and could end the weekend anywhere between 4th to 7th.
The Hurricanes bounced back from their disappointing home defeat to the Brumbies by thrashing the Drua 67-5 in Wellington last week. The win was made sweeter by the successful debuts of 21-year-old No. 8 Tyler Laubscher and veteran Crusaders & All Blacks prop Owen Franks.
Betting: what a difference a year can make. The Waratahs bring 6-2 form into this clash and they include the Crusaders among their scalps. The Hurricanes have won 4 of their last 5 games, however, which included a 13-point win over the Reds. The line stats are noteworthy. The Waratahs have gone 3-1 at the line as the home underdog over the last 12 months while the Hurricanes have gone 0-4 at the line (1-3 in the head-to-head) as the away favourite. The Waratahs have covered the line in 4 of their last 5 fixtures against the Hurricanes. I would back the Waratahs +10.5 at 1.51 (Picklebet).
Sunday, 15 May
Rebels vs. Chiefs
The Rebels were thrashed 28-71 by the Blues in Auckland last week. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead before conceding an eye-watering seven tries in the first half alone as they had no answers to the Blues’ offence. The Rebels are now 3-8 for the season and sit 2 points outside a playoffs spot.
The Chiefs fell 28-38 to the Brumbies at home last week to slide to 7-4 for the season. They currently occupy the 4th seed as they fight to be the best of the rest, a fair way behind the Blues, Brumbies and Crusaders.
Betting: the Rebels have gone 1-11 as the underdog and 0-4 as the home underdog over the last 12 months, while the Chiefs have gone 4-1 as the away favourite. The Chiefs have won 7 of their last eight games against the Rebels, including the last four. The Chiefs have gone 4-0 on the back of a defeat over the last 12 months, which doesn’t bode well for the Rebels, given they were swatted aside by their two previous Kiwi opponents this season. There is very little value, but nevertheless, if I were to bet on this game I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.13 (Unibet).
Best Bets of the Round
Both the Brumbies 1-12 at 3.30 (Unibet) and Crusaders 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet)