Where you should put your money in Super Rugby this weekend, according to MARK KEOHANE.
There are four South African franchises in action this weekend and I can see three of them losing, despite three of those four teams playing at home.
The bad news is that the Stormers' fortunes aren't going to get any better, despite being back at home and playing in front of the most faithful supporters in the country at Newlands. They come up against a Waratahs side that was smashed by the Sharks last week, but that was their first match on tour and the travel factor has to be taken into consideration. Also, the Stormers are playing on the back of a winless away tour and they have also had to travel after defeat in Brisbane last week.
In Bloemfontein the Cheetahs will be well rested after a bye last week and they'll be hoping to ensure the defending champions, the Chiefs, endure a third successive week without a win. Last week the Chiefs came back from the dead against the Bulls at Loftus and snatched a draw with the final move of the match. That was their first game on tour and they showed the character to suggest they'll be more than a handful for the Cheetahs.
The Bulls, who were held in that 34-34 game, travel to Wellington and come up against the Hurricanes who are playing some good rugby. Here too I reckon the Bulls – especially without Victor Matfield, who is being rested in a long season – will struggle.
The silver lining in what looks to be a dark cloud for South African teams this weekend is, ironically, the guys everyone wrote off before the season started. The Lions have responded magnificently to the challenge and they will be confident of knocking over an under-performing Crusaders at Ellis Park. The Crusaders are shadows of their former selves and are being judged on reputation. The Lions can get among them and win this one.
My bets for the week are on the back of odds being supplied by betflash.co.za.
Brumbies vs Blues
The odds here are for the Brumbies to win by five points. That's what I'm going for too, so am not having a bet.
Highlanders vs Rebels
The Rebels start with an effective 7-0 advantage. I've got the Highlanders to win by five, so with that in mind it could be worth backing the Rebels to 'win'. But it's a close call.
Hurricanes vs Bulls
The Bulls start with an effective 4-0 advantage and I've got the Hurricanes to win by five. Again, this is really close on the points spread to have a confident bet.
Reds vs Force
The Force are enjoying a good run of form and the Reds were far from impressive in getting past the Stormers last week. Home-ground advantage could be crucial in this Australian derby and the bookies have given the Force an effective 7-0 start. I've got the Reds to win by five, so, yet again, it's a tight call at the spread.
Cheetahs vs Chiefs
The Chiefs are favourites here and the Cheetahs start with an effective 5-0 lead. In a week where I feel the bookies and myself have been reading one another's notes, I've got the Chiefs to win by five.
Lions vs Crusaders
Finally, some room to move. The bookies make the Crusaders favourites and the Lions have an effective 5-0 start. I've got them to actually win the match and this spread gives me the breathing space. Back the Lions (R100) to win when you add one point to their final score. Odds here are 1.25 to 1.
Stormers vs Waratahs
The Waratahs start with an effect 1-0 lead, but back them at 1.3 to 1 to win by more than than two points. Also, take the Lions/Waratahs double at the above handicap. For every R100 you spend you'd net a return of R518.
betflash.co.za also have these permutations, although there is nothing for my tips from these.
5-1 Wins for the Brumbies, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Stormers and Crusaders.
6-1 Wins for the Brumbies, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Waratahs and Crusaders.
18-1 Wins for the Brumbies, Highlanders, Bulls, Stormers and Lions.
20-1 Wins for the Blues, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Stormers and Lions.
25-1 Wins for the Brumbies, Rebels, Bulls, Waratahs and Crusaders.
30-1 Wins for the Blues, Rebels, Hurricanes, Waratahs and Crusaders.
40-1 Wins for the Blues, Highlanders, Bulls, Waratahs and Lions.
50-1 Wins for the Blues, Rebels, Bulls, Stormers and Crusaders.
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