The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 6 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, 25 March
Moana Pasifika vs. Hurricanes
Due to the covid outbreaks in the New Zealand squads Moana Pasifika were rescheduled to play the Chiefs at short notice last week. They were thrashed 12-59 despite the fact that the Chiefs were missing 17 front-line players. Moana Pasifika’s defensive issues were laid bare as the depleted Chiefs ran out comfortable winners. It was Moana Pasifika’s only second game this season due to covid disruptions. They are now 0-2 for the season following this result and their 12-33 defeat to the Crusaders in Round 3.
The Hurricanes haven’t played since Round 3. Their Round 4 fixture was postponed due to a covid outbreak within the squad and their Round 5 match was postponed to allow the make-up game between the Chiefs and Moana Pasifika. In Round 3 the Hurricanes saw off the error-prone Highlanders 21-14 to improve to 2-1 for the season. Despite the high error count it was a much better defensive performance given they conceded 42 and 32 points in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively.
Betting: Moana Pasifika’s heavy defeat to such a depleted Chiefs is a concern. The Hurricanes have scored 30+ points against the Blues and Crusaders, so they should have a field day against this Moana Pasifika defence. Having said that, there’s not enough value to back them in the head-to-head or 13+ markets. Given the Hurricanes have a tendency to leak points in high scoring games, I’m not sure about the 25.5 line either, so I will sit this game out.
Rebels vs. Fijian Drua
The Rebels paid the price for failing to take enough of their chances in their 19-24 defeat to the Waratahs last week. For the second week running they had most of the possession but came off second best on the scoreboard. The Rebels are now 0-5 for the season but can take solace from their gradual improvement in offensive performances following the 5 and 3 points they scored in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively.
The Fijian Drua fought back from 8-17 down to take an 18-17 lead but conceded a penalty kick five minutes after the final hooter to fall 18-20 to the Force in Sydney last week. In the end their faulty lineout cost them the win. They will be gutted with the result which sees them slide to 1-4, but the Fijian Drua can take pride in their competitiveness this season. Following their 30 and 39 point defeats in the opening rounds the Drua have beaten the Rebels then lost by 5 and 2 point margins to the Reds and Force, respectively. The comeback to reduce a deficit last week has become a recurring theme for the Drua. In Round 3 they trailed the Rebels by 14 points before winning by 5. In Round 4 they trailed the Reds by 19 points before losing by 5.
Betting: the Rebels are 0-5 this season while the Drua are 1-4. The two sides look evenly matched so I will back both the Rebels 1-12 at 2.60 (bet365) and the Drua 1-12 at 2.90 (bet365). Given the Fijian Drua’s habit of coming back from deficits, those looking for more risk should consider the Rebels/Drua HT/FT selection at 7.00 (Unibet).
Force vs. Brumbies
The Force squeaked past the Fijian Drua 20-18 in Sydney last week to improve to 2-3 for the season. They can take pride in salvaging the win with a 23-phase passage of play that went deep after the final hooter, but they will be disappointed by the manner in which they threw away a 17-8 lead.
The Brumbies remain the only unbeaten side in the competition after they saw off the Reds 16-12 in Canberra last week. Not for the first time this season, the Brumbies had far less of the possession, but they took their opportunities and defended resolutely. Impressively, the Brumbies edged the Reds in metres carried despite the visitors having 50% more carries.
Betting: the Brumbies have won 13 straight against the Force. The Canberra side has also gone 9-0 as the favourite over the last 12 months. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.30 (bet365).
Saturday, 26 March
Highlanders vs. Blues
The Highlanders’ game last week was postponed due to a covid outbreak in the squad. Prior to that the Highlanders led 13-3 at halftime but fell 20-32 to the Blues in Auckland in Round 4 to slump to 0-4 for the season. To add insult to injury, Thomas Umaga-Jensen had to leave the field injured. He had been their primary attacking weapon up until that point. One telling stat is the Highlanders had 104 carries to the Blues’ 110, but only managed 278 metres to the Blues 519. The Highlanders have now lost six consecutive games to New Zealand opposition.
The Blues’ game last week was postponed due to a covid outbreak within the squad. It is their second postponement in five rounds. Prior to that the Blues defeated the Highlanders 32-20 in Round 4 to move to 2-1 for the season. Their win came despite the late withdrawal of All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett due covid. They put in a terrible first half performance but rallied from 3-13 down at halftime to secure the win.
Betting: the last game for these two sides was against each other in Round 4. The Blues have now won five of their last six games against the Highlanders. Since that game both sides have been hit (or in the case of the Blues, further hit) by covid outbreaks. Neither side has shared how many players were affected so those who are more risk averse should wait for the team sheet announcements before betting on this game. The last eleven meetings between the two in Dunedin were all settled by 1-12 points so I would back both the Highlanders 1-12 at 3.75 (bet365) and the Blues 1-12 at 2.50 (bet365).
Chiefs vs. Crusaders
Due to the covid outbreaks in the New Zealand squads the Chiefs were rescheduled to play Moana Pasifika at short notice last week. Despite missing 17 players due to injury and a covid outbreak of their own, the Chiefs dominated possession and thrashed Moana Pasifika 59-12. They are now 3-1 for the season with their only defeat coining by 2 points against the Blues.
The Crusaders’ game last week was postponed due to a covid outbreak in the Blues squad. Prior to that the Crusaders blew a 21-10 lead to fall 21-24 at home to the Chiefs. This ended their ten-game winning streak. The Chiefs dominated possession in the second half as the Crusaders defended gallantly but ultimately failed to hold their lead. The Crusaders are now 3-1 for the season.
Betting: I would have backed the Chiefs in the head-to-head had they been at full strength, but I doubt they will have all of the 17 missing players back in time for this clash as covid runs its course. I expect a close contest so I will back both the Chiefs 1-12 at 3.00 (bet365) and the Crusaders 1-12 at 2.60 (bet365). Those who are more risk averse should wait for the team sheet announcements before betting on this game.
Reds vs. Waratahs
The Reds sit second in the overall standings after they fell 12-16 to the Brumbies in Canberra last week. They will be left to rue what could have been after dominating possession and missing a golden opportunity in the final minute. Reds’ fans were also left with a few complaints over the referee’s performance. The Reds sit second on the table with a 4-1 record.
The Waratahs have won back-to-back games for the first time in over 18 months after they defeated the Rebels 24-19 in Sydney last week. This was on the back of their 22-17 win over the Force the week before. It was actually a poor performance by the Waratahs for failing to put the Rebels away after leading 14-6 at halftime. The Waratahs are now 3-2 for the season and remain on track to make the playoffs.
Betting: the Waratahs’ performance last week would not be enough to see them win against the Reds. The Waratahs haven’t won an away game since 2020 so I would back the Reds in the head-to-head at 1.29 (Unibet).
Best Bets of the Round
Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.30 (bet365)