The following is a preview with betting tips for the semifinals 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, 10 June
Crusaders vs. Chiefs
The Crusaders ground out a 37-15 win over the Reds last week to book their spot in the semi-finals. It wasn’t a great offensive performance by the Canterbury side. They made an uncharacteristically high number of handling errors, but their solid defence kept the visitors at arm’s length throughout the contest. In team news, in-form loose forward Ethan Blackadder is out with a shoulder injury, which is a big blow.
The Chiefs took advantage of an error-ridden performance by the Waratahs last week to advance with a 39-15 scoreline. It wasn’t the best performance by the Chiefs, either. They made errors too but emerged victorious due to their better disciplined defence and their efficiency at capitalising on the Waratahs’ errors. The Chiefs have now won 7 of their last 8 games.
Betting: the Crusaders and Chiefs bring 5 and 4-game winning streaks into this game, respectively, but those streaks don’t represent the fact that neither team has been consistently at their best. The Chiefs are certainly in with a chance of causing an upset. They have won six straight away games and they defeated the Crusaders in Christchurch in Round 4. The Chiefs’ only away defeat this year was by a 2-point margin to the Blues in Round 3. The Crusaders and Chiefs’ most recent meeting was in Round 6. The Crusaders were the more enthused side that day and they exacted their revenged from Round 4 by beating the Chiefs 34-19 in Hamilton. That game had been firmly in the balance until 20 minutes to go when the Crusaders pulled away. The Crusaders have gone 2-6 at the line at home this season while the Chiefs have gone 2-0 at the line as the away underdog. This makes the 8.5 line intriguing given that 11 of the Crusaders’ 13 wins over the last twelve months were by 8+ points and 3 of the Chiefs’ 4 defeats were by 8+. The last two meetings between the two sides went under the total, however the Chiefs’ last seven games have gone over the total. I predict a close contest so I will back both the Crusaders 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 4.10 (Unibet).
Saturday, 11 June
Blues vs. Brumbies
Last week the Blues shrugged off the late withdrawal of captain Dalton Papalii to comfortably beat the injury-hit Highlanders 35-6 to extend their winning streak to 14 games. The most impressive aspect of the win was the Blues’ defence. They were simply a brick wall as they held the visitors tryless for the game and pointless in the second half. When they did have the ball the Blues were ruthless. One aspect of the game that will give the Brumbies heart, however, was the fact that the Blues came off second best at the scrum.
The Brumbies came back from nine points down and a red card to overcame the Hurricanes 35-25 in Canberra last week. They are Australia’s only representative in the semi-finals. Incredibly, it was the first playoff win for the Brumbies over a New Zealand side since 2014. The win also snapped a three-game losing streak as the Brumbies seek to peak at just the right time. The Brumbies bring good momentum into this clash after they out-scored the Hurricanes 20-3 in the second half.
Betting: the two sides last played each other in Round 14, which the Blues won 21-19 in Canberra after kicking a game-winning penalty at the death. I don’t expect the scoreline to be as close this time round given the switch of venue to Eden Park. The Blues have won four of their last five at home against the Brumbies and the Blues covered the line in the last three of those five fixtures. Keep an eye on the total score market when it is released on Saturday. The defensively strong Blues’ last three games have gone under the total and 7 of their last 8 games against the Brumbies went under the total. The average total from those eight games was 39.75 and only one of those games went above 48 points. Given that 8 of the Blues’ 9 home wins over the last twelve months were by 8+ and both of the Brumbies’ away defeats during this time were by the same margin range, I would back the Blues 8+ at 1.50 (Unibet).
Best Bets of the Round
Both the Crusaders 1-12 at 2.75 (Unibet) and the Chiefs 1-12 at 4.10 (Unibet)