There will be wins for New Zealand, Australia, Western Province, the Cheetahs and the Lions this weekend, according to the bookies. GARY LEMKE reports.
The Springboks will again come up short in Brisbane when they take on Australia in their Castle Rugby Championship match, if the online bookies, including Marshalls World of Sport, are correct in pricing up their odds.
Heyneke Meyer has selected a team that looks as if its mission is to subdue before penetrating, which is, in a sense, the Bok blueprint. Judging by his starting XV, the game plan would appear to revert to secure primary-phase ball, keep it tight up front – stick the ball under the jersey and grunt stuff – and then ask Ruan Pienaar and Morné Steyn at No 9 and 10 to put leather to ball for the wings to chase.
And with Zane Kirchner back at No 15, they'll be looking to the fullback to do what he does best – secure opposition ball from the air and send it back into opposition half. All the while Australia will be looking to stretch the Boks and speed up the game. It can make for a fascinating contrast of styles.
While I still have visions of the Lions smashing the Wallabies, especially in that final Test, and the way New Zealand dismantled them in the Bledisloe Cup, the Australians always go up a notch when taking on the Springboks. Are they more than three points better than the Boks? Tomorrow, I'd say the answer is yes, but South Africa will get their revenge when they have their turn on home soil. Newlands at the end of the month could get messy.
In the other Rugby Championship match, the bookies make the All Blacks 28 points better than Argentina. I can see the Kiwis breaching the 50-point mark and that would mean Argentina would need to get to 23 to 'win' on the handicap. It looks a good spread by the bookies. I'll go with the Kiwis to win by 28-plus, though.
Following their convincing victory over the Bulls last weekend, the bookmakers have trimmed the Sharks to marginal favourites to lift the Currie Cup at the end of the season. You can get them at odds of 22-10 – which means that for every R10 you spend, you get a R32 return if they win – with Western Province 28-10.
The Cheetahs are now third favourites at 9-2, followed by the Bulls at 5-1, the Lions at 11-2 and Griquas the rank outsiders at 100-1.
This week the two favourites to contest the Currie Cup final meet at Newlands and the bookies have decided that it's almost too close to call. They have installed the hosts to win the tightest of contents by one point.
Similarly, they foresee the game at Loftus going down to the wire and they regard the Cheetahs as the slightest of favourites, by one point, to inflict the third successive defeat on the Bulls.
This might be a game in which to take on the bookies. The Bulls, in losing to the Lions and the Sharks in their most recent two matches, have fallen away badly in the second half. If the Cheetahs are alongside the Bulls on the scoreboard at half-time, they might be able to do what the others have and stretch away – certainly by more than one point – in the last quarter of the match.
Griquas return to Kimberley where they are always tough to knock over on and the bookies reckon that the Lions will come away with victory by four points, based on the even-money (double your stake) handicap.
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Can the real Steyn please stand up?
The Sharks need Frans Steyn to be the match-winner he should be against the Crusaders on Saturday, writes RYAN VREDE.
Hungry for more
Bryan Habana still wants to improve his game, score more tries and win more trophies, writes JON CARDINELLI.
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the past weekend's Super Rugby, Craven Week and Currie Cup qualifier matches according to SIMON BORCHARDT.