Where you should put your money in Super Rugby this weekend, according to MARK KEOHANE.
It's the final week of the regular season in Super Rugby, with a number of matches set to decide who will be heading into the play-offs and whose season ends here. I expect most of the matches to be tight, especially the ones with something riding on the outcome.
Blues vs Chiefs
The Chiefs come into this one level on points with the Force and Brumbies, who clash later on in the day. They are slight favourites with betflash.co.za, trading at 9/10, and they know nothing short of a win will be enough to lift them into the play-offs. The Blues are yet to lose at Eden Park this season, so the Chiefs won't have things all their own way. I still think they'll win by four or more points though, which would make you R137 for every R100 wagered.
Brumbies vs Force
Brumbies are overwhelming favourites here, but the Force have proven stubborn opposition so far this season and are a tough side to put away. Both are in the midst of a play-off dogfight and with this being a derby, there won't be much between the two. I fancy the Brumbies to get up, but there is some money to be made if you think that the Force can finish within seven points.
Bulls vs Rebels
The Bulls should trample the Rebels here, especially after the team from Melbourne failed to trouble the Lions last weekend. Unfortunately for the punters out there, there is not much value in backing a Bulls win. Rather look at the handicaps at betflash.co.za, where you can double your money by backing the Bulls to win by 14 points or more.
Crusaders vs Highlanders
The Crusaders struggled at times against the Blues last weekend, but once Dan Carter returned to flyhalf it looked a very different game. The Highlanders were on the end of a hiding against the Waratahs and will find it tough going in Christchurch against a fired-up Saders team that has their sights set on second place on the overall log. The bookies tend to agree, making the Crusaders odds on favourites, but you'll get more value by backing them to win by five points or more at 8/10.
Reds vs Waratahs
The Waratahs are sitting pretty at the top of the table and can't be overtaken. Their match against the Reds this weekend looks a formality, on paper at least, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that Michael Cheika has rested a number of players with an eye on the play-offs. Keep a close watch on the team announcement, if Cheika tinkers then take a cheeky punt on the Reds. They've won their last three against the Waratahs in Queensland and at 25/10, the odds seem too good to pass up.
Lions vs Cheetahs
Just two points separate the Lions and the Cheetahs on the log and the winner of this one will be able to claim bragging rights for another season. The Lions got the better of the Cheetahs in the opening round of Super Rugby thanks largely to the boot of Marnitz Boshoff. Both teams are coming into this one on the back of wins so you can expect another closely-fought South African derby, full of fire and brimstone. In the end though, the Lions should have enough about them to see off the Cheetahs, making the 15/20 odds for the outright win a decent bet.
Stormers vs Sharks
The final match of the regular season could go a long way in determining the Sharks' chances of winning the Super Rugby title this year. The Sharks' approach to this one is likely to depend on the earlier result in Christchurch, but I don't think it'll have too much of an impact on the outcome of this particular match. The Sharks seem to be waning, while the Stormers have looked a different team since Gert Smal's appointment as director of rugby. A home win can be claimed at 9/10, while the Sharks are slight outsiders with odds of 19/20.
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