This is the first full round of Super Rugby fixtures and there are always a few upsets, writes MARK KEOHANE.
According to betflash.co.za, which offers things such as three-way odds (straight-up win for either side and the draw), half-time and full-time combos and other exotics, there will be wins for the Brumbies, Cheetahs, Crusaders, Blues, Sharks, Stormers and Waratahs.
I can see at least two upsets on that basis, as I reckon the Bulls will be too strong up front and beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and that the Highlanders in Dunedin will start off well against the Blues from Auckland. So, from a punter's perspective that's where the value lies.
Last week I got one right and one wrong … I didn't expect the Lions to win in Bloemfontein but then also didn't expect the Cheetahs to play the way they did. The Lions host the Stormers at Eliis Park and you have to think that the visitors will take this game, having won the last seven times the teams have met in Johannesburg – and they're on an unbeaten streak of 13 against the Lions at all venues.
Therefore it's not surprising that the bookies, betflash.co.za among them, are offering odds of 9-10 with the Lions enjoying a nine-point start. Basically, that means if you think the Stormers can come from 9-0 down to 'win' the game then you can back them. Every R100 would net you a return of R190. But, if you, like me, think that the margin won't be as wide as nine points then you can back the Lions to 'win' and even if they lose (by less than nine points) you'd win. I have the Stormers by three, so will be backing the Lions on that basis.
Suggested bet: R50 on the Lions to 'win' by adding nine points to their final score. Potential return: R95.
The bookies reckon that the Brumbies will beat the Reds by four and I've got them down to win by five so this is probably too close to call with any degree of certainty when it comes to the handicap spread.
But they've got the Cheetahs to beat the Bulls, and are offering 1.35-1 on the Bulls winning by three or more. I'll take that and at R100 the return would net you R235.
They've got the Crusaders to beat the Chiefs by only three and while I know the Crusaders are notoriously slow starters – and it is a long season – I still think that at home they'll be more than three points better. R100 would net you R190 if it comes in.
The best bet of the programme is in Dunedin where the Blues are favourites to beat the Highlanders by a point. That means that the Highlanders start with a an effective 1-0 lead and as I'm expecting them to win even without the advantage, it's worth lumping on here. R200 on the Highlanders would net you R380.
Elsewhere the bookies have the Sharks to win by around 12 and I've got them to win by 10, so a shrewd bet would be the 9-10 on offer for the Hurricanes given an 11-point start. I'd suggest R50 on this.
The Waratahs should see off the Force although the way to bet here might be to take the 6-10 on offer that they will win by eight points or more. I'll be having R100 at betflash.co.za on that and I'll detail my wins and losses next week.
Happy punting punters!
Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix