The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 15 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, 27 May
Crusaders vs. Reds
The Crusaders thrashed the Fijian Drua 61-3 last week to move into 2nd place in the overall standings with one round to play. The third placed Brumbies play a fatigued Moana Pasifika this week so the Crusaders can ill-afford to rotate the squad in this round.
Following four consecutive defeats to New Zealand franchises, the Reds defeated Moana Pasifika 34-22 last week to move to 8-5 for the season. The Reds currently sit 7th in the standings but could rise to as high as 5th if they could pull off a major upset this week. Their previous results against Kiwi opponents doesn’t inspire confidence, however.
Betting: the Reds have lost nine consecutive games to the Crusaders and they have gone 0-4 against Kiwi opponents this season. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.06 (Unibet).
Saturday, 28 May
Fijian Drua vs. Chiefs
The Fijian Drua were humbled 3-61 by the Crusaders last week. It was an awful result, but the Drua have the opportunity to finish the season on a high with just their second fixture on Fijian soil this week. If the home support this weekend is anything like to their Suva fixture against the Highlanders, the Drua should be much more competitive than the previous round.
The Chiefs shrugged off their covid outbreak last week to thrash the Force 54-21. They sit in the 4th spot with one round to play. With two teams below sitting within striking distance, the Chiefs will have to win this weekend to hold onto that spot. Captain Sam Cane suffered a knee injury during the game and while he will miss this round, he could be back as early as next week.
Betting: the Drua’s only previous Super Rugby Pacific on Fijian soil was against the Highlanders, which they lost by a respectable 24-27 margin. I would back the Drua +17.5 at 1.66 (Picklebet).
Moana Pasifika vs. Brumbies
Moana Pasifika are playing for the second time this week after they fell 28-48 at Mt Smart Stadium to the Force on Tuesday night. This was on the back of their 22-34 away defeat to the Reds on Friday. Moana Pasifika are now 1-12 for the season and will receive the wooden spoon unless they can pull a rabbit out of the hat and pick up a bonus-point win over the Brumbies.
The Brumbies fell 19-21 at home to the Blues last week to relinquish their top-2 status with one round to play. They had taken the lead with 70 second to play but conceded a heart-breaking penalty kick at the very end of the game. The defeat has likely cost the Brumbies a home semi-final, but they can take heart from their competitive showing against the competition’s best side.
Betting: Moana Pasifika have lost ten straight games and they are having to play for the second time this week. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.08 (bet365). Those looking for more risk should back the Brumbies -19.5 at 1.85 (bet365).
Waratahs vs. Blues
The Waratahs’ impressive turnaround from their horror 2021 season continued last week when they upset the Highlanders 32-20 in Dunedin. The victory was their first in New Zealand since 2015 and their first in Dunedin in 14 years. The Waratahs are now 6th in the standings and could finish as high as 4th if they win and other results go their way.
The Blues pulled off a dramatic 21-19 win over the Brumbies in Canberra last week to clinch the first seed in the playoffs. It was a franchise-record 12th consecutive win. The Blues’ only defeat this season was by a one-point margin in their first game. It will be interesting to see whether they rotate the squad for what is actually a tricky opponent that has already claimed two Kiwi scalps this season.
Betting: the Blues have the 1st seed locked in, which should work in the Waratahs’ favour. They have already beaten the Crusaders at Leichhardt oval and the Brumbies have provided them with a good blueprint for how to play the Blues. I was hoping for a bigger line, but with the Waratahs only 2.5 point underdogs, I will instead back a close game and pick both the Waratahs 1-12 at 3.20 (Unibet) and the Blues 1-12 at 2.85 (Unibet).
Force vs. Hurricanes
The Force are playing for the second time this week after they defeated Moana Pasifika 48-28 in Auckland on Tuesday night. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak and most importantly it has kept them in the hunt for a playoff berth following the Highlanders’ defeat last week. A win for the Force and a loss for the Highlanders would see the Perth franchise make the final 8.
The Hurricanes defeated the Rebels 45-22 last week to keep hold on their 5th seed spot with one round to play. The Chiefs face a tricky fixture to Fiji this week so the Hurricanes could jump into the top four if they win and other results go their way.
Betting:the Hurricanes have won nine straight against the Force and the Perth side has gone 0-11 as the underdog over the last 12 months. I would back the Hurricanes in the head-to-head at 1.12 (bet365).
Sunday, 29 May
Rebels vs. Highlanders
The Rebels fell 22-45 to the Hurricanes in Wellington last week to slide to 3-10 for the season. Depending on the Force’s result on Saturday, the Rebels could avoid finishing as the worst Australian side if they win on Sunday.
The Highlanders suffered a disappointing 20-32 home defeat to the Waratahs last week. They shot themselves in the foot as fly-half Sam Gilbert was sent off for an lifting tackle in the 29th minute. His season is over after he picked up a five-week ban for that infringement. With Mitch Hunt still recovering from concussion, Marty Banks is now their only recognised fly-half. The Highlanders still hold onto the 8th seed with one round to play, but they have left the door open for the Force to snatch that spot.
Betting: the Highlanders have gone 6-1 as the favourite over the last 12 months while the Rebels have gone 1-12 as the underdog and 0-5 as the home underdog. I would back the Highlanders in the head-to-head at 1.36 (bet365).
Best Bets of the Round
Both the Waratahs 1-12 at 3.20 (Unibet) and the Blues 1-12 at 2.85 (Unibet)