Where you should put your money in Super Rugby this weekend, according to MARK KEOHANE.
The online bookies have gone for five of the six home sides to win this weekend, with the sole victory for the away franchise being the Waratahs in Auckland. However, there are clearly matches which are going down to the wire, with the bookies feeling that the Waratahs will win by one, the Force by one, the Cheetahs by one, the Brumbies by two and then the Hurricanes by six and the Sharks by 11.
I share the bookies' sentiments, but that doesn't mean they can't be beaten. Here's how!
Blues vs Waratahs
The teams last met in 2013 in Sydney and the Waratahs snuck home 30-27 although this year they look to be a better side than they were 12 months ago. Although their record in Auckland isn't one to inspire huge confidence, they won there 27-22 in 2009 and I reckon that on the back of a good win against the Bulls last week they'll continue their winning ways. The Waratahs are fourth on the combined log and the Blues ninth and I don't think the log lies. The bookies have made the Australian side favourites to win by one point. I say take the 1.3 to 1 on offer for them to win by more than four points. Each R100 would net a return of R230.
Super Rugby head-to-head: Blues 3 Waratahs 4
Matches played in Auckland: Blues 3 Waratahs 1
Brumbies vs Chiefs
The Brumbies have performed well in their first season without Jake White as coach and currently lead the race for top spot in the Australian conference. The Chiefs might be defending champions but they have struggled a bit on the road this season, notably drawing with both the Lions and Cheetahs in high-scoring draws in South Africa and last week they went down by one point to the Crusaders. The bookies have the Brumbies to win by two. I've got them to prevail by five. A bet that might be worth pursuing on betflash.co.za is for the Chiefs to be leading at half-time and the Brumbies to rally and win the match. That's on offer at 4.75 to 1, where every R100 would net a return of R575.
Super Rugby head-to-head: Brumbies 3 Chiefs 4
Matches played in Canberra: Brumbies 2 Chiefs 1
Sharks vs Highlanders
In Durban the Sharks have built something of a fortress and there is no doubt they are benefiting from a fixtures list that has seen touring sides play them first in their opening match of the SA leg. The Hurricanes were thumped by 18, the Reds by 15 and the Waratahs by 22 in their first outings on tour after making the long trip. The bookies have set the margin at 11 for the visit of the New Zealand franchise. They should be fairly close to the right score in this regard, although I'm not going to have a wager on this game, having given the Sharks a 10-point victory prediction.
Super Rugby head-to-head: Sharks 5 Highlanders 1
Matches played in Durban: Sharks 3 Highlanders 0
Hurricanes vs Reds
This match, like the Sharks in Durban, look to be where the bookies have got it just about right. They've got the Hurricanes to beat a disappointing Reds outfit by six and I've got the Canes to take it by five. In situations like these it could be worth backing the Reds to 'win'. Here's how. They start with an effective 6-0 lead. So, put your money on them and you'll double it if the Reds are still ahead on the scoreboard at the end of the match once you've added those six points to their total. I've got a sneaky feeling for this bet.
Super Rugby head-to-head: Hurricanes 4 Reds 2
Matches played in Wellington: Hurricanes 3 Reds 0
Force vs Bulls
Victor Matfield is back to marshal a Bulls pack that has played well on tour. The harsh results have shown that the Bulls have lost three from three on tour but in each match they've run the opposition to within seven, and a losing bonus point, In fairness, they could have turned one or two of those defeats around with a little luck here and there. The Force are favourites to extend the best winning streak in their history but I've got the Bulls to win quite comfortably. This could be the bet of the weekend. Back them at even money (double your money) to win, after starting with an effective 1-0 lead. But, an even better bet would be to back the Bulls at 1.35 to 1 for them to turn an effective 4-0 deficit at kick-off into a winning score.
Super Rugby head-to-head: Force 3 Bulls 3
Matches played in Perth: Force 2 Bulls 1
Cheetahs vs Stormers
The Stormers might have won their second match of the season last week when they beat the Lions in an uninspiring match at Newlands, but they haven't turned the corner as many reckon they have. Plus they haven't won away from home this season and remember they were drubbed 34-10 by the Lions in Johannesburg. I've gone for the Cheetahs to win by three, while the bookies have set the margin at one point for the Cheetahs.
Super Rugby head-to-head: Cheetahs 2 Stormers 8
Matches played in Bloemfontein: Cheetahs 2 Stormers 3
You might find some interesting permutations below on betflash.co.za in their Flash Pots on their website.
8-1 Wins for the Waratahs, Brumbies, Cheetahs, Hurricanes, Force
10-1 Wins for the Blues, Brumbies, Cheetahs, Hurricanes, Force
10-1 Wins for the Waratahs, Brumbies, Stormers, Hurricanes, Force
12-1 Wins for the Waratahs, Chiefs, Cheetahs, Hurricanes, Force
13-1 Wins for the Blues, Brumbies, Cheetahs, Hurricanes, Bulls
24-1 Wins for the Blues, Chiefs, Stormers, Hurricanes, Bulls
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images