THE MONEY MAN will be placing a substantial bet on the Waratahs to win by 10-plus in Bloemfontein.
Last week ended poorly for me and I deserved everything I got. Although many of you thought I was crazy predicting a 23-plus point beating for the Cheetahs, no-one saw the error in my banker. I put R4,000 on the Waratahs to win outright. This bet was bittersweet for me. As I mentioned, I hate to bet to see the Lions lose, and they roared last week. What a gutsy display! Congratulations to Mr Ackermann and the boys!
I had most go my way last week and my balance is still a healthy R13,475, from R5,000 to start the season, as we enter the business-end of the schedule. Lets get back to winning ways and get straight to work.
My accumulator is as follows: Hurricanes 1/4 outright, Brumbies 2/7 outright, Rebels 17/20 outright, Crusaders 1/4 outright, Chiefs 11/20 outright, Waratahs -17.5 points 28/10, Stormers lead at half-time -3.5 9/10 @ R500 pays R20,202.
Hurricanes (-9.5) vs Highlanders (+9.5)
That's a pretty big spread when you look at the betting initially! As you dig a little deeper you see why the bookies have handicapped the Canes so much. Firstly, there’s the obvious: this is a home game for the Canes (in Napier) and they are yet to lose at home. Secondly, the Canes have Beauden Barrett back and that's not great news for the Highlanders. He is a class player and will add to an already potent attack. The third reason is the most telling: cast your memories back to the last time the Highlanders rested their All Blacks, Aaron and Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa. It was 24 April against the Brumbies and they took a 13-point beating and looked pretty clueless. Such is the quality in these three players that their absence will be sorely missed. I will not be betting on this game but if I had to I would take the Hurricanes to cover the spread.
Force (+8.5) vs Brumbies (-8.5)
I will be avoiding this game. It should be a slam-dunk for SuperBru players as the Brumbies will win, but I am not so convinced that the away team will win by nine or more points for you to collect your money here. They probably will, but it's in that dangerous zone that always worries me.
Rebels (-1.5) vs Bulls (+1.5)
This is a tough game to call as both teams have travelled well and were poor on their respective tours. The experienced travellers will point to the fact the Rebels are returning home and will be jet-lagged. Neither team has much to play for other than pride and the Bulls are turning out another strong side even though Handré Pollard is being rested. The well-coached Rebels will have their hands full and I think the difference will be in the lineouts. The Bulls are strong here and I see them squeaking home. I am not betting on this game but would take the Bulls and the 1.5 points they get. My advice is to let this go as better opportunities are available in the later games.
Blues (+9.5) vs Crusaders (-9.5)
Weather: Rain predicted
The bookies are expecting the Crusaders to win by 10 at Eden Park and if you look at this Blues side you will begin to understand why. Their entire first side is decimated by injury, and with the Crusaders still in with a play-off shout, they will be hard to stop. They should win easily here and I will be putting R1,000 on them to win by 10 or more points. I suggest you do the same.
Reds (+3.5) vs Chiefs (-3.5)
Folks, this game is a potential banana peel and I’ll be giving it a wide berth. On paper the Chiefs should win and win well, and for my SuperBru I have taken the Chiefs to win by seven, but I don’t trust the Reds. They're a different team and if they were to replicate last week's performance against the Force they could upset the Chiefs. Both teams are 3-3 in their last six matches and this game is not as simple as the 4-10 vs 9-5 records suggest. The Chiefs should win but do yourself a favour and save your money. If you have to bet, take the Chiefs -3.5 and they should win by four or more points for you to collect your bet. After all, they welcome back Liam Messam and Brodie Retalick.
Cheetahs (+9.5) vs Waratahs (-9.5)
I have heard so many delusional reasons why the Cheetahs are going to upset the Waratahs this week: They have a new coach in Franco Smith, it will be played in Bloem which is where the Stormers lost, etc. The only thing that could even out this game is if it were played on the moon. The Cheetahs will no doubt pitch up on Saturday, but the players pitching up are not capable of beating any Super Rugby side, let alone a Waratahs side desperate for five log points. I believe it will be a high-scoring affair with over 70 points scored. Unfortunately for the Cheetahs, 50 of those will be for the Tahs. This is my banker and I am putting R5,000 at 9/10 for the Waratahs to win by 10 points or more. Sorry Cheetah fans.
Stormers (-7.5) vs Lions (+7.5)
Last week the Lions beat the Waratahs and I took it on the chin. This is the pick of the week for rugby purists and in many ways it's like play-off rugby, only bigger. The Lions' Johan Ackermann has to be considered for SA Coach of the Year and if the Lions win on Saturday their accomplishment will be up there with many of the great underdog rugby stories of all time. But they won’t. The Stormers are not too bad themselves and have the physicality to shut down the attractive rugby the Lions play. It will, however, be a close game and I am putting R1,000 down on the Lions to not lose by eight or more. It should be a cracker.
Good luck this weekend.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images