THE MONEY MAN expects the Bulls to cover the 14.5 points handicap at Loftus Versfeld in round six of Vodacom Super Rugby.
It's time to put away those crystal balls and start looking at form as a more reliable indicator of probable outcomes.
To summarise, I am 17-10 on SuperBru and 13-14 on handicap betting. I started with R5,000 and have turned that into a profit of R990, or a 19.8% ROI (return on investment). The reason for this is purely down to the fact that I am 4-1 on the games I feel offer good value to the punter, what I call bankers. I don't bet on every game!
There are some great games this weekend and another opportunity to grow our cash pile.
Highlanders (-1.5) vs Hurricanes (+1.5)
We kick off with a game the bookies are having a hard time calling. The Highlanders (3-1) have surprised a few punters this year with wins against the Chiefs (20-17) in Hamilton and Waratahs (26-19) in Dunedin. But let's not forget they battled to beat a poor Reds team at home (20-13) and lost to the Crusaders in round two (26-20). Their two wins have over-valued the Highlanders and undervalued the Hurricanes, who should have recovered from their travelling and ready for this Kiwi derby. Quite simply, the Hurricanes are the better team, they make less mistakes and finish far better than the Highlanders. Take the Canes to win outright at even money. I will be putting R500 on them to win and will be getting back R1,000, which includes my stake.
Rebels (-7.5) vs Lions (+7.5)
The saying goes 'a fool and his money are soon parted' and if you punt on this game you may fall into that category. The Lions have been gutsy at times and my belief is the Australian conference is not very strong. I doubt the Lions could have wished for a worse opening five games, against the Hurricanes, Sharks, Stormers, Crusaders and Blues. While they certainly have not embarrassed themselves, I doubt they will win in Melbourne. But I also don’t believe the Rebels will win by eight or more. If you do want to bet on this game, I would take the 2/1 on the Lions to cause an upset.
Cheetahs (+17.5) vs Crusaders (-17.5)
I hate these games where the handicap is so big. Sure, the Crusaders are improving and will target this game for five log points, but to win by a minimum of 18 is asking a lot. The bookies have probably got this one spot on. Obviously the Crusaders will win this game and they will probably cover the spread as the Cheetahs seem to be hopelessly lost right now, but the interesting bet may be on the total points scored by both teams. I think it will be an extremely high-scoring game with over seven tries scored between the teams. For fun, I will be putting down a 20/1 bet of R100 for the Crusaders to win by 47 or more points.
Bulls (-14.5) vs Force (+14.5)
Bulls fans should be smiling as their team is showing definite signs of life. They are now 2-2 and if you consider their first two losses were to teams (Stormers and Hurricanes) with a combined record of 8-1 then the form book looks pretty good. The Force have been woeful, losing their last four games. The Australian conference is extremely weak, with the exception of the Brumbies, and I have no doubt the Bulls will win this match. The question is will they win by 15 or more points so you can collect your bet? Both teams have hosted the Hurricanes, the Bulls losing 17-13 and the Force 42-13 against a Canes team on the tail-end of a difficult road trip. This form guide is not too bad and I will be putting R250 @9/10 for the Bulls to cover the 14.5 points handicap and rack up the points at Loftus.
Sharks(+1.5) vs Chiefs (-1.5)
This is another tough game for the bookies to call, with the Chiefs being slight favourites. There's not good news for Sonny Bill fans as he seems to be suffering headaches from the knock he took at Newlands and will probably not play. Keep that in mind for obvious reasons. That said, the Chiefs are the better team and a half-empty Shark Tank is not the most frightening place to play on the road. The Chiefs' scalps include the in-form Stormers and the in-form Brumbies, and they also destroyed the Crusaders by 24 points. The Sharks, on the other hand, have played more like sand sharks this year, claiming the Cheetahs and Lions as their victims. You’d have to be a die-hard fan to back the Sharks here and I am putting R250 on the Chiefs to win by two or more points.
Waratahs (+2.5) vs Brumbies (-2.5)
This will be another close game according to the experts, with the teams separated by a penalty or drop goal. The 4-1 Brumbies have collected all their wins against Australian opposition, which as I've said is abysmal, with their only real challenge coming against the Chiefs, which resulted in a 19-17 defeat. They are certainly the form team in the Australian conference. The Waratahs are not playing well, which is reflected in their 2-2 record. It should be a bruising affair in Sydney, but this game is my banker and I am putting down R750 for the Brumbies to win by three or more points.
Photo: Greg Wood/AFP Photo