Lump it on the Lions

Where you should put your money on the Rugby Championship and Currie Cup this weekend, according to MARK KEOHANE.

The rain at Loftus was a great leveller last weekend, and for those of you who backed Argentina on the 'cap, there was money to be made. This week is no different.

With the rugby coming thick and fast now, you'll have to keep your wits about you. Things can turn quickly, with a hailstorm or a yellow card helping to sway a match here or there. Live betting is a great way for astute punters to capitalise on any such incidents. Keep an eye out for any bookmakers offering live-betting markets and jump aboard.

Western Province vs Golden Lions

The Lions have been the success story of the Currie Cup so far. Comprehensive wins over the Bulls and the Kings have shown them to be a very good rugby side. Their opponents on Saturday aren't far off.

Province shamed the Bulls at Newlands last weekend, and go into the top-of-the-table clash as favourites. Coach Allister Coetzee has selected the same team for the first time in over three years, and the continuity is a massive plus.

Of course, this Lions side have been together all through Super Rugby. They haven't won on the road yet, but that's only because they haven't left the haven of Ellis Park. I'm backing the Lions here at 17/10, you should do the same.

Sharks vs Free State Cheetahs

The Sharks and the Cheetahs have played second fiddle so far this season. The Cheetahs, despite their victory over Griquas, have regressed in recent times, while the Sharks are still adapting to life under Brad Macleod-Henderson.

Neither team have hit their straps so far, with both looking more than just a little ring rusty. The Sharks have been installed as overwhelming favourites here, which surprises me considering their struggle to get past the Pumas.

While I do expect to pick up a win against the injury-riddled Cheetahs, the visitors from Bloem look capable of covering the 'cap. Back the Cheetahs to finish within 19 points at 9/10 (R190 return for every R100 wagered).

Blue Bulls vs EP Kings

The Kings are a mess right now, while their opponents this weekend aren't faring much better. Carlos Spencer's side have struggled on their return to the Currie Cup Premier Division, with inexperience on the field, and in the coaching box, hampering their progress.

The Bulls, for all their investment in young talent, still look the same side they were a couple years ago. They had all the ball against Province, but were not sure what to do with it. They are a side clearly lacking in confidence.

Despite this, they've expected to overcome the Kings with ease this weekend. While I don't expect the men from Port Elizabeth to spring a surprise, they should be able to cover the handicap and finish within 17 points, available at 9/10 at various bookmakers.

Pumas vs Griquas

There won't be much to separate these two teams, well if the bookmakers are anything to go by. The Pumas have been made slight favourites, courtesy of home-ground advantage, but I see it being a bit more cut and dry.

The Pumas fully deserved their win against the Cheetahs in their opening fixture, a side that Griquas lost to last week. Jimmy Stonehouse has built a solid team, that will be capable of troubling most on their home patch.

Griquas weren't able to contain the Pumas during last season's promotion-relegation match and not much has changed. They'll be at least a converted try better than Griquas here, which can be found at 13/10 (R230 return on every R100 wagered).

Argentina vs Springboks

With that out of the way, the focus switches to the Rugby Championship and to the Springboks' trip to Salta. Not much could be gleamed from the opening fixture between these two, with the weather the undoubted winner at Loftus.

While the forecast for Saturday's match is a welcome change from the monsoon experienced in Pretoria (reports suggest sunshine and 32 degrees), the Argentinians are also expected to turn up the heat on the Boks in sweltering Salta.

Heyneke Meyer's men have managed a draw and a five-point win on their two trips to Argentina in recent years, making the 11.5 point handicap rather steep. I expect the Pumas to push the Boks all the way here, and I'm backing them to finish within 7 points at 29/20.

All Blacks vs Wallabies

The 12-12 draw in Sydney may not have been the classic that we'd been hoping for, but it certainly did the Springboks' Rugby Championship hopes no harm. For those of you that took a flutter on the 20/1 available for the draw, well done. For the rest, I feel your pain.

The return fixture takes place at Eden Park, a venue the All Blacks haven't lost at in two decades. As well as the Wallabies played in Sydney, giving as good as they got against Steve Hansen's All Blacks, an away victory looks out of their grasp at the moment.

The bookies agree, and have given the Australians an 11-point head start here. It seems a bit generous, and while I expect the All Blacks to get the win, they aren't going to have things all their own way. There are plenty of handicaps available for this one, but I'm going for the Wallabies to finish within 8 points at 11/10.

Keo's Weekend Picks

Lions 7/10
Cheetahs +9.5 9/10
Kings +17.5 9/10
Pumas -6.5 13/10
Argentina +8.5 11/10
Australia +8.5 9/10

Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images