The following is a preview with betting tips for Round 8 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, 8 April
Highlanders vs. Moana Pasifika
Despite having most of the territory and possession, particularly in the final quarter, the Highlanders were unable to breach the Crusaders defence in a scoreless second half and fell 14-17 at home last week. They remain at the foot of the overall standings with a 0-6 record. The Highlanders can take heart from putting in their best defensive result of the season, but their lack of firepower in offence remains an issue. The Highlanders beat 11 defenders in 122 carries last week, while the Crusaders beat 25 defenders with just 61 carries.
Moana Pasifika played the Blues twice last week. Both sides fielded rotated squads for the Tuesday clash, which Moana Pasifika lost 19-32 on Tuesday. They faced off again on Saturday, which Moana Pasifika lost 16-46 despite being down just 13-17 approaching halftime. In the end they were outclassed as the Blues ran in 7 tries to 1. Moana Pasifika are now 1-4 for the season as they continue their quest to avoid the wooden spoon.
Betting: the Highlanders should win but given their lack of firepower on offence, which is the the second worst in the league with 18 points scored on average, I will side with Moana Pasifika +21.5 at 1.66 (Picklebet).
Force vs. Rebels
Prior to their bye last week the Force fell just short at home against the Brumbies, losing 38-39 after trailing 3-20 at one point. Their fightback started when the Brumbies went down to 14 men, but they will be disappointed that they fell behind so heavily. The Force are now 2-4 for the season and have a 6 point buffer over the Rebels and Drua in the playoff race.
Prior to their bye last week the Rebels picked up their first win of the season by defeating the Fijian Drua 42-27 in Melbourne. The Rebels are now 1-5 for the season and can take solace from the fact that they only sit 4 points outside a playoff spot and their offensive performances have been steadily improving from week to week.
Betting: the Force crushed the Rebels 28-3 in Round 2 but the Melbourne side has been improving steadily each week. Looking at the previous 18 clashes between the two sides, only 2 were won by 13+ points. I will back both the Force 1-12 at 2.70 (Unibet) and the Rebels 1-12 at 3.85 (Unibet). Given the Force have gone 3-0 as the favourite over the last 12 months while the Rebels have gone 0-10 as the underdog, those looking for more risk should simply back the Force 1-12 at 2.70 (Unibet).
Hurricanes vs. Crusaders
The Hurricanes fell 29-30 at home to the Chiefs last week to slide to 2-3 for the campaign. They made a big comeback and had the momentum and possession in the final five minutes but couldn’t land the knockout blow.
The Crusaders held on with 14 men in the final three minutes to defeat the Highlanders 17-14 last week to move to 5-1 for the season. In a game dominated by defence, neither team scored in the second half.
Betting: the Crusaders have won nine of their last ten games against the Hurricanes and they bring a six-game winning streak away from home into this clash. The Hurricanes are 0-2 as the home underdog over the last 12 months. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1.37 (BlueBet).
Saturday, 9 April
Chiefs vs. Blues
The Chiefs edged the Hurricanes 30-29 in Wellington last week to move to 4-2 for the season. In a seesawing contest the Chiefs trailed at halftime, then took a commanding lead with 17 unanswered points, before having to cling onto the win as the Hurricanes narrowed the gap to 1 point with five minutes to play. The Chiefs appeared to have studied the successful tactics of the northern hemisphere sides against the All Blacks last November and I suspect they’re currently the best-coached side in the country.
The Blues defeated Moana Pasifika twice in five days last week to move to 5-1 for the season. The second win might have come at a cost if Caleb Clarke is suspended for his collision with Tomasi Alosio. The side is also juggling covid issues after coach Aaron Mauger and Filo Tiatia had to miss last Saturday’s game due to covid protocols.
Betting: the Chiefs have won 10 of their last 12 home games against the Blues and the Blues have gone 1-5 at the line away from home over the last 12 months. The Blues squeaked past the Chiefs by 2 points earlier in the season and I expect the Waikato side will return the favour on home soil. I would back the Chiefs in the head-to-head at 1.82 (Picklebet). Fourteen of the Chiefs’ last seventeen wins over the Blues were by 1-12 points and they’ve only won one home game by 13+ over the last 12 months so those looking for more risk should back the Chiefs 1-12 at 2.88 (Unibet).
Fijian Drua vs. Brumbies
The Drua fell 14-38 to the Waratahs last week to slide to 1-6 for the season. The match stats were relatively similar for the two sides but the Drua came unstuck by ill-discipline, with the side playing a man short for 30 minutes, during which time 24 points were conceded. The Fijian side is on a four-game losing streak.
The Brumbies suffered their first defeat of the season last week when they fell 7-21 to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium. The defeat isn’t a surprise given they haven’t won in Brisbane for seven years, but the Brumbies will be disappointed that they couldn’t pick up a losing bonus point.
Betting: the Brumbies thrashed the Drua 42-3 in Round 2 and the Fijian side has looked poor in the last two rounds, slipping 42 points against the Rebels and 38 points against the Waratahs. I would back the Brumbies in the head-to-head at 1.10 (Unibet). Given the Drua lost their previous two clashes by 15 points (Rebels) and 24 points (Waratahs), those looking for more risk should back the Brumbies 13+ at 1.57 (bet365).
Best Bets of the Round
Force 1-12 at 2.70 (Unibet)
Chiefs 1-12 at 2.88 (Unibet)