Go large on the Lions

THE MONEY MAN is putting R2,000 on the Lions to win in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

I can tell you one thing with certainty about this weekend's Vodacom Super Rugby matches – it's the toughest week to date to pick winners. Take heart, though, because this also means the odds are great if we can hit an accumulator Hail Mary! For you SuperBru players the herd mentality will be tested as the six games could go either way and, if you run the board this week, you really know your rugby or your girlfriend has picked correctly on who has the nicer uniforms. I am going to throw up two Hail Marys this weekend:

Bulls outright 2/1, Sharks outright 9/10, Blues outright 2/1, Crusaders outright 13/10, Highlanders -4.5 pts 9/10, Lions outright 7/10 for R50 pays R6,301.79.

Bulls +6.5 pts 9/10, Reds outright 9/10, Blues +6.5, Crusaders +3.5 pts 9/10, Highlanders -4.5 pts 9/10, Rebels +9.5 pts 9/10 for R100 pays R4,604.59.

Why two Hail Marys you may ask? Remember when the games are this hard it's best to be cautious and not throw away your hard-earned profit. There are six, if not seven games that could go either way. So these bets will hopefully keep me in play for the weekend. Let's break down tomorrow's games and get off on the right foot.

Chiefs (-6.5) vs Bulls (+6.5)
Weather: Fine, but damp underfoot

Please, oh please, someone remind Pierre Spies that with a kicker like Handré Pollard you always take the points on offer in the first half of a rugby game. If he had done that last week, I’m sure the Bulls would have won. It is utter madness not to. If Spies does that then I think the Bulls are in with a real chance on Friday morning. The Chiefs are missing four players, including Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams. The Bulls have a strong side and there is a good chance they can cause the upset. Remember this is a team that lost to the Sharks and the Rebels and squeaked past the Force. I have noticed that the Bulls are shortening with bookies and have come in from 5/2 to 2/1 outright and have shortened by a point on the handicap from +7.5 to +6.5. I believe the 2/1 is still not a bad price considering the key players out for the Chiefs. I believe the safer bet is to take the +6.5 the Bulls are getting at 9/10. I am putting R250 @9/10 and taking the points. Pray old Spies goes pale toe and we will be in the money.

Reds (pk) vs Sharks (pk)
Weather: Fine, a little soft under foot

PK means the bookies can’t separate these teams, so there is no handicap. Either team pays 9/10 for an outright win. My advice here is to take a coin and flip it best two out of three. Angus Gardner is the referee, he is Australian and the Reds are at home, so you might want to lean that way. The Sharks have been as bad as the Reds and will depend solely on physical dominance. I am gonna have a fun bet for R200 @ 3/1 for the Sharks to win by nine points or more. Try and avoid this game at all costs.

For those that chose the Sharks well done, as long as it was an outright win you are in the money, The Bulls ran out of steam and many Stormers and Lions fans will be happy with that result. Our tough week continues:

Blues (+6.5) vs Hurricanes (-7.5)
Weather: Rain

Both teams have changed front rows and I'm not entirely sure who that benefits. The Canes are the class side of the tournament but what do they have to gain from winning in Auckland? Other than injuries that may hurt All Blacks selection. The Canes have all but clinched the New Zealand conference and usually the more committed team wins on the day. They are also without Conrad Smith and Brad Shields. I expect a low-scoring game and a major upset is on the cards. Take the 9/10 and the 6.5 points on offer for the Blues. I feel comfortable enough to put down R500 @9/10 that they will not lose by or more and, in fact, I have picked them to win this game on my SuperBru.

Waratahs (-3.5) vs Crusaders (+3.5)
Weather: Fine, but soft under foot

The Waratahs will be minus the big physical presence of Jacques Potgieter and that could be telling in this game. Both teams have been hit and miss this season, but more so the Crusaders. It should be a close game and one the Crusaders have to win to keep their slim play-off hopes alive. I think they will do just enough on Saturday. I will take the 3.5 points offered by the handicapper and put R500 on them to finish within four points and it wouldn't surprise me if they win this match.

Force (+4.5) vs Highlanders (-4.5)
Weather: Ideal

To me the Highlanders are the most exciting team in the competition and the Force have been the most disappointing. I can’t believe the spread is not 11.5. The Highlanders will easily win this game. This is my banker bet and I will be putting R1,000 down @9/10 for the Highlanders to win by five points or more.

Cheetahs (+2.5) vs Lions (-2.5)
Weather: Perfect

The Highlanders ran out of steam in the last 20 minutes last weekend or the Cheetahs' loss would have been much bigger. The 21-point defeat flattered the Cheetahs and the Lions are a tight, fit, unit who won’t run out of steam in the last 20 minutes. This is another banker for me and I have taken the Lions at R2,000 @9/10 to beat the banjo pluckers from Bloem. The Lions will win this by at least 15 points.

Stormers (-9.5) vs Rebels (+9.5)
Weather: Fine

Folks, I have seen enough rugby games at Newlands to know one thing – if the Stormers win, and I know they will, I doubt it will be by double figures. So if you have to bet, take the Rebels to not lose by 10 or more points at 9/10. The Rebels are well coached and this will be a tight game.

Good luck this weekend, and easy does it.

SA Rugby magazine team's SuperBru picks

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images