Super Rugby Predictions – 2018 Final Preview

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Super Rugby 2018

Super Rugby Final 2018

Its finally here, over one hundred games and we are down to the final two, Crusaders v Lions, Saturday in Christchurch, will it be three times lucky for the Lions? Or will it be title No nine for the Crusaders the most successful Super rugby team since inception?

Crusaders v Lions 

We can report that there are doubts about Ryan Crotty News24 report that Mr Crotty has a question mark over his readiness thanks to a couple of HIA meetings, and there is no doubt about Jordan Taufua after Mr Taufua broke his arm in the largely one-sided Semi Final v Hurricanes.

Crusaders have won the title no less than eight times, they have a team littered with stars, All Blacks a plenty, Richie Mo’unga, likely to take over from Beauden Barrett come the Rugby Championships later this month, or at least Oracle Rugby thinks so, his pace is electric, and he has the power to turn this fixture firmly in the hands of the Crusaders.

The weather is also on the Crusaders side, the sun won’t be shining, it will be wet, it will be dark and there will not be many Lions fans in the crowd, Christchurch is truly unfamiliar territory for the Lions. The last couple of times the Lions have gone to Christchurch have been few and far between, in 2014 they lost 34 – 6 and did not dot down once, losing four zip in the try count. In 2010 the Lions scored a solitary try but lost by twenty seven, a point better than their 2010 attempt.

There is no secret that Crusaderland is a fortress, the Crusaders have won twenty times when playing a playoff and are unbeaten at home this season. Lions can hold onto the fact that they have been impressive v NZ opposition in the last three years, they have only won twice in NZ in that time, and that was in 2016, last year they did not go to New Zealand, this year they played two games and got beaten reasonably comfortably.

The Lions largely left in the wilderness of Super Rugby’s have beens, relegated, in fact one of only two teams to have been relegated and return, the other being the Kings, who eventually joined the Pro 14. Lions have gone from zero to hero in a couple of years, 2012 they were relegated, 2013 they did not play, 2014 and 2015 they started their upward trend.

In 2016 after winning South Africa’s Currie Cup in 2015 they played an unbelievable season, winning more games than they had before, reaching the Final in Wellington v Hurricanes who played better in the conditions and played against a Lions team that had no experience at this level, they scored a solitary three pointer and lost by seventeen.

A year later the Lions found themselves in the Final again, this time at home, this time against the seven time champions the Crusaders, their opponents this week. For much of the first thirty, they were behind the eight ball, nothing went their way and then Kwagga Smith did a stupid thing, he tackled David Havilli in a dangerous way and fully deserved the Red Card. The rest is history and although the Lions played well late on, it was not enough and the Crusaders got their eighth title and we got to see Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson do his famous breakdance.


Here we are twelve months later, the same contenders in the same final, albeit 11,500km away in the land of the long white cloud. Few have given the men form the City of Gold any chance, I am not one of them, the Lions have the pack, and anyone who has played rugby or watched rugby for some time will know that no matter how good your backline is, you will never win the big games without a decent forward pack. The Lions pack is so good that guys like Marx are being hailed as the best around at the moment, Kwagga Smith is being used in sentences that contain the word ‘Fearless’, sure he is small, but he cares little about his body and that is the kind of commitment a team needs to get over the line

The backline is no joke either, Aphiwe Dyanti has showed us a master class in individual try scoring, he got a hat-trick v Stormers a while back and scored arguably one of the tries of the tournament last week v Waratahs, Kyle Brink is also back, so from an injury point of view the Lions are at full strength.

I reckon I covered all that I can think of, and all that matters, the rest will be up to the two teams, on my video I encourage all those nay-sayers, those that believe the Lions have ZERO chance, I encourage them to borrow money and empty out their savings, I certainly will not, but if they are so cock sure of a Crusaders victory, I say show me the money, or in plain English: PUT YOUR MONEY DOWN OR QUIETEN DOWN.

Kick off is scheduled for 09h35 GMT +2 on Saturday in Christchurch. The referee for this game will be Angus Gardner (AUS), Click here for the Weather in Christchurch and if you want to follow the game on Twitter click here for the Hashtag #CRUvLIO

If you are one of those that believes that the Crusaders WILL win and that there is no doubt here are some prices for you:

Super Rugby Semi Finals 2018 Predictions

Crusaders v Hurricanes

Crusaders have played fantastic rugby, they truly deserve to be at home for this epic encounter and are justified favourites to not only win this game, but to take the title for an unprecedented ninth time.

The Hurricanes stand in their way, a team filled with experience, talent and a host of All Blacks. The last time the Canes tasted victory down in Christchurch was just two years ago, when they thumped the Crusaders by twenty five and with Beauden Barrett grabbing a drop over try assisting the Lions in missing out on their first home final.

The last two occasions in Christchurch have seen the Hurricanes fail by eight and eleven points respectfully, this is a knockout game after all and although it is likely that the Crusaders could win this one by more than seven, I just feel it’s a point or two too much. Whilst I do not expect the Hurricanes to win this game, I do feel they have a sniff and I do expect them to come close and the Crusaders to close it out as they have done multiple times this season.

This will be the Crusaders biggest test so far at home, the pressure is definitely on the hosts.

My call here is a marginal one and does not hold the level of confidence I have for the Lions in the later game. Crusaders v Hurricanes is on Saturday, so we have both semis on the same day!!

Call: Hurricanes +7.5 at evens for 1 unit

Lions v Waratahs

I will start off by saying that the Waratahs have absolutely ZERO chance of winning this one, I may be bold enough to say they have almost no chance of staying within twenty. The Waratahs had an amazing comeback last week, I did call the win, but at HT I felt they were gone, so that part I benefitted, but certainly did not expect.

Waratahs have played fourteen matches in SA since the conference system started and have won only four times, only one of those was a victory in the city of gold, but it was in 2009.

In 2009 the Lions beat the Reds away, the Brumbies at home, lost to all of the SA teams, bar the Cheetahs who finished last, and only won four games, the force thumped them by forty one, they beat the Highlanders by five, who as it happened finished one spot up on the Super Rugby ladder by a solitary point also winning four games. Todd Clever became the first American to play Super Rugby, my eldest son was only six and without too much maths that was nine years ago, the Lions as we know are a different animal to those old days!!

This year the Lions went to Sydney and thrashed the Tahs by twenty nine, last year the Lions had not played any NZ opposition and again pulverised the Waratahs by nineteen. Waratahs are not much better than they were two years ago, if anything the Brumbies have worsened and the Waratahs have played an average season, sure they broke the forty odd losing streak to the kiwi sides, but they are up against it this weekend, in fact they are so far out of their depth they will not know what hit them.

The Lions are at just about full strength, it’s hard not to notice Marx, the No 2 with a strike rate of steals to match any other in history, a captain back to almost his best, a fly-half full of confidence, in fact I am of the opinion that the Lions are peaking at the right time. If the Crusaders win this weekend the Lions will make the long haul trip over to Christchurch and whilst they will be double digit plus outsiders, I feel they may just have a chance.

Sadly the final will not be in Sydney, it has an eighty percent chance of being in Christchurch, but small puntable chance of being in Joburg, if I am correct here and the Lions do in fact murder the Waratahs, and the Canes do the Lions a favour in Christchurch, I would be again bold enough to say that this Lions team will win the trophy at their third attempt.

It’s hard to not say that the Lions deserve to be in the final, sure they lost to the Blues and almost the Sunwolves, but they fixed most of their problems and have the opportunity now. They were again for the third year in a row head and shoulders above any other SA team.

My call is an aggressive play at a reasonable price, just giving back two extra points than last week, but against weaker opposition in my opinion!! This is my #BestBetoftheWeek

Call: Lions -17.5 at 2/1 for 5 units

Super Rugby Quarter Finals Predictions

Hurricanes v Chiefs

A repeat of last week’s match up, albeit at a different venue on the same island, ok 400 clicks separate the two stadiums, there are no cow bells, support will be lower, but honestly I reckon the Chiefs have this one, the Hurricanes are a shadow of their last two years exploits and will be beaten here. Normally I go plus when to NZ teams go head to head, but this week I feel the right way to go is with the winning habit team, winning as they say is a habit.

Hurricanes have only won one of their last four, against the Blues, and we know how crap they are, the Chiefs on the other hand have won three of their last four including an outsider win v the Canes. I will not play around here, the value is undoubtedly with the visitors and that is where I will go with a reasonable amount of confidence

Call: Chiefs on the board at 2/1 for 2 units

Crusaders v Sharks

A few years ago a Sharks team came down to Christchurch and got a RED card, Mr du Plessis got his marching orders, the whole world thought oh no here we go, it’s over, but the Sharks went on to reach the final. Although they lost they showed that any team can go over the ocean and win, come back and win.

Crusaders have shown us that they were worthy champions last year and have come to dominate this year’s comp again. Sure they have been beaten a couple of times, but seriously, they look good, but at 7/10 to win the tournament there is really no value.

                             

The way I see it, if the Crusaders win this week they may well have another NZ team in the Chiefs or Hurricanes the following week. Then they will play the Lions. So from a mathematical point of view I see this:

  • Crusaders v Sharks (1/7)
  • Crusaders v Chiefs or Hurricanes (5/10)
  • Crusaders v Lions (1/5)
  • This multiple works out to just over evens, so there you go, if you are thinking about punting the 7/10 about the Crusaders, you are a mug and are being robbed blind, ok maybe not blind, but pretty close. If you think my maths is off, kindly send me an email with your perceived prices, I am honestly interested in seeing them!

Anyway back to the game, so the Crusaders are priced up at a ridiculous -19.5, I am sorry but this is far too much. The Bulls lost by nineteen and the Sharks are way better than the Bulls, and are way better at traveling. Sure the Hurricanes smashed them two years in a row, but this Sharks team has performed above expectations v NZ opposition this year. That is indeed where my money will go this year.

Call: Sharks +19.5 at 0.95 for 3 units

Waratahs v Highlanders

Waratahs v Highlanders was my big play a while ago, the Waratahs could not get up and allowed the Highlanders to dictate matters. This will be the third year in a row that only one solitary Aussie team has made it this far, most will argue they don’t belong but for a skewered conference system that allows them to stage a home game, but let’s not dwell on that.

Waratahs have been dished a home game against a team I liked pre-tournament, not sure why, but the last three weeks the Highlanders have played rubbish rugby. They have lost two of their last three and almost got embarrassed last week against an equally rubbish Rebels outfit. Four weeks ago they smashed the Hurricanes but when they arrived in Fiji they got done properly and their run ended.

Waratahs in my opinion will not make the same mistake as their Aussie counterparts the Brumbies who have not gone further in two attempts, in fact the very same Highlanders and Hurricanes sorted that out. Waratahs this year are better than the Brumbies have been in the last two years and now that they have a real chance at an unlikely semi-final, they will give it horns. If the Waratahs win this they are off to Joburg, or if they are extremely lucky they may be back home for a Semi, but that is unlikely!

I am expecting the Waratahs to win this one, not necessarily by a long way, but at 13/10 to win on the board I have some interest, it’s one of those games that should be priced up at around 9/10 but luckily for us Waratahs punters we have been given the benefit.

Call: Waratahs on the board at 13/10 for 3 units

Lions v Jaguares

Last week we saw the lions dispose of the Bulls in dramatic fashion, the Bulls got up first, in fact scoring twice without much reply, then the Lions turned it on, scoring thirty six unanswered points, sure they did not have to win by a country mile, but they did and this is exactly what has got me interested in this week’s fixture, the Jaguares have done nothing in SA bar beat the Kings and Cheetahs, the Lions on the brink of a third Semi Final in a row and almost a third Final in a row are not about to have this Jaguares team come close.

South Africa is a different animal to the Jags and they have shown that multiple times, something does not work here, it will be their third week in a row here and unfortunately it will be their third loss in a row. The Sharks beat this team in the rain by 10, the Bulls as rubbish as they are beat them by 7, ok fourteen if you ignore the siren score, but seriously, there is no evidence that I can quote that suggests that this match will be anything but distant.

Only a brave man would bet against the Lions here, I will not be one of them, this is a big call for me and at a great value price. I have ignored the nine to ten handicap and rather gone for a rather bold play.

Call: Lions -15.5 at 2/1 for 4 units

Super Rugby Final Round Predictions

Chiefs v Hurricanes

Chiefs have had a couple of great starts, sure they almost tossed it away last week, but I like them, there is an interesting situation here, the Chiefs can overtake the Canes into the valued 4th position on the log, the 4th place team is at home for a quarter final, so definitely something to play for.

I am surprised the Chiefs are not favourite here, in fact I am bold enough to say they may win this by ten or more, closer to GT I may have a strike, but at this stage I will settle for the board price.

Hurricanes would not be too concerned about this game, the holes v Brumbies and Blues last week suggest the Chiefs are big runners, it is after all a NZ derby. It should be a cracker!!

This is a big play, it’s my joint second best bet for the weekend and deserves some respect, and the price is just too high about a NZ team at home that is in the playoffs. This is 100% about value.

Call: Chiefs on the board at 33/20 for 3 units

Highlanders v Rebels

They banter going around is that the Highlanders may just throw this one, sure it makes sense, playing the Waratahs in Sydney a far better option for the Highlanders than to trek over to Jozi and face the Lions, but throwing matches in Super Rugby, I just don’t reckon is a runner, playing half a team and blooding a few youngsters may be a far better option of the landers, losing at these stakes will not be such a bad thing, resting the better guys.

Rebels have something to play for, if they win they secure 8th and possibly even 7thdepending on the Jaguares in Durban later the same day. I just cannot see the rebels winning this one, even against a weak Highlanders team if they even show up, the rebels have lost two on the bounce v Aussie opposition and they are out of their depth in this fixture. For that reason I will go for a speculative play at -19.5 at a reasonable 2/1, the play will be small though, not a lot of confidence, just some value.

Call: Highlanders -19.5 at 2/1 for 0.5 units

Crusaders v Blues

Blues, Blues, Blues, I honestly have nothing much to say here, my 2nd worst punted team this season, I have absolutely no confidence here, but I will have one last crack at the Blues, with a modest fifteen and a half start its good enough for me to have an absolute minute play.

Call: Blues +15.5 at 0.25 units

Waratahs v Brumbies

Two to one about the Brumbies away in Sydney is nothing to smart at, its value, this is a dead rubber, well almost, but at 2/1 I am most definitely interested, sure it’s not maximum, I would be an idiot going max on a dead rubber, but I will have a go, the Waratahs have secured top spot, they have not secured 2nd on the Log, the Lions can take that from them, so yes there is a little for them to play for, but the Brumbies have had two stellar weeks, I have gone against them twice and seen my arse, I will not make that mistake again, fresh from two decent efforts albeit in the second halves of both matches has my attention.

I like the brumbies to come close if not win.

Call: Brumbies on the board at 2/1 for 1 unit 

Lions v Bulls

Plus ten and a half, it’s just too much, the Lions having a break last week, holding onto their top spot in the SA Conference by a thread, now have a better hold on it than last week. Jaguares were not able to grab it last week, when getting seven in a row just to be in the hunt.

Bulls played unbelievably when down by nineteen, that second half display something to admire, this is a derby and I will treat it as such, the Lions may well win here, but by double digits, I cannot see it, sure the Bulls have nothing to play for, or do they? Surely they do not want to come last in the conference that on its own should be enough motivation.

I will go with the Bulls here with a reasonable amount of confidence.

Call: Bulls 10.5 at 3 units

Sharks v Jaguares

Sharks play the Jaguares on Saturday evening, again I will be at this game, I have both underestimated the Sharks and have been far too bullish on their chances, this game I am looking at from a far more disciplined vantage point, the hunger for the Sharks should be far too much for the much travelled Jaguares, this game may be one too far for them, sure I have the Jaguares to qualify at 12/1 taken on the 7th of May, but I am not an idiot, their form against the Big four in the Republic leaves a lot to be desired, they have done ok v Sharks, but the Sharks will have their measure at home.

There is one thing to consider though, if the Bulls beat the Lions in the three O’clock game, then the Jaguares have a sniff, but only a sniff. As it stands right now, this is my Best Bet of the weekend!!

Call: Sharks -4.5 at 5 units

 

Super Rugby Round 17 Predictions

Blues v Reds

Blues have been super poor, sure the Reds have also been, but something about this double digit start has name interested, seriously it seems too high, the Jaguares and Sharks both beat this Blues team at home. I have absolutely no confidence in this team and by all accounts I must go with the Reds, it’s tentative but I will do it!!

Call: Reds +11.5 at 1 unit

Rebels v Waratahs

Not a lot I can say here, but that Rebels have been rubbish, Waratahs on the other hand have been great, yes it’s away from home, but achievable for them, so for a small call I will go with the Tahs!!

Call: Waratahs -2.5 at 1 unit

Highlanders v Chiefs

Not a lot of confidence here, but usually I go plus in a NZ derby, but this week I like the Highlanders, especially at home, with a modest four and a half point handicap I am interested. The Chiefs have not done as well as they could have, the Highlanders have also not done that well, but at home they are a different animal, a rather tentative call, but it is enough for me.

Call: Highlanders -4.5 at 1 unit

Brumbies v Hurricanes

Last year we saw a Hurricanes team come to Canberra around the minus fifteen mark, they won and they will do it again, the Brumbies have won all of five times this season and its not going to be six after this game, Hurricanes have a game in hand over the Crusaders but are a while away on the board, I still think the pressure should be enough to see the Hurricanes over the line in what can only be described as a decent line of only -11.5.

Call: Hurricanes -11.5 at 2 units

Sunwolves v Bulls

The last game in Singapore, Tokyo is gone, Hong Kong is gone, so this is their last home game, they played ok this year, but also rubbish, what I like here is that the Bulls are able to qualify but it’s a long shot, anyway we have not seen many single digit handicaps about the teams visiting the Sunwolves, but at -7.5 I am interested.

Call: Bulls -7.5 at 2 units

Sharks v Lions

Sharks are up against it here, there is no doubt about that, the Lions welcome back captain fantastic in Mr Whiteley a local, the Lions have their eye on the prize, the SA Conference prize and have the Jaguares on their backs, so for me the Lions will win this one comfortably, in fact I am expecting win by ten points or more.

Call: Lions -9.5 at 16/10 for 3 units

Jaguares v Stormers

Jaguares are on a six game winning streak, its unlikely to change this week, they are up against the rubbish Stormers, priced up at just -7.5 its unlikely they will battle with this low handicap, they beat the Bulls by thirty, the sharks by fifteen and the Lions by 14. Yes I can hear you!! Argentina got thrashed three times in a row, but a different coach and a different captain have my confidence, besides they are runners to take the SA Conference.

Call: Jaguares -12.5 at 16/10 for 3 units

Super Rugby Round 16 Predictions

With no South African teams playing this week our attention swings to that of the Australasian contingent, there are five games on offer, a Friday game, three Saturday games and a Sunday fixture in Aussie. I am spending 6.75 units and the biggest play is first up at just 3 units.

Don’t forget the Sevens is on this weekend in England and the U20 Game Day Two is on Sunday, Springboks play Wales in Washington DC at 23h00 GMT +2 on Saturday, there is loads on to keep us busy this weekend. Enjoy the rugby!!

Highlanders v Hurricanes

Best bet of the weekend by a decent margin, Hurricanes have certainly disappoi9nted recently and this week should be no different, the Highlanders have had a great record at home for some time now and I expect them to win this one at a decent price. Call: Highlanders on the board at 17/10 for 3 units

Blues v Rebels

Blues should have no trouble disposing of this Rebels team, I will be surprised if the Rebels stay within fifteen, here, given the rubbish season the Blues have had I would be forgiven for not going max here, but seriously I have not done that well with the Blues and will go for them one more time at a smaller stake. Call: Blues -8.5 at 2 units

Chiefs v Crusaders

Chiefs played well last week, they knew their bonus point situation and played to it, I like them against a not so in form Crusaders outfit, with a decent 5 or six point start they also appear value, but for me I will have a go on the board. Call: Chiefs on the board at 2/1 for a unit

Reds v Waratahs

Reds did ok last week, the Waratahs ill decision making at the end cost me, I like the reds at home albeit a small stake, at 2/1 to win the game they appear to be value. Call: Reds on the board at 2/1 for a 0.5 unit

Brumbies v Sunwolves

Not much to say here but that the rubbish Sunwolves B team could be smashed by fifty, but the A team could stay within ten, I may make a bigger decision closer to GT but right now, my call is low. Call: Sunwolves +31.5 at 0.25 units

 

 

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