Bank on Crusaders to beat Sharks

THE MONEY MAN will be putting down R1,000 @11/10 on the Crusaders to win at Kings Park on Saturday.

Hurricanes (-8.5) vs Stormers (8.5)
Weather: Fine

The Stormers looked set to be my banker when they were only 5.5 underdogs, but they are now priced at 8.5, which means they have to lose by nine or more points for me to collect a bet on the Canes. Both teams will be at full strength and with Duane Vermulen back for the Stormers, and Schalk Burger also starting, I expect a titanic struggle. John Plumtree has given the Canes forwards more bite this year. Their go-forward ball has seen them score 19 tries to the Stormers' 10 and they are averaging 100 more running metres per game than the Stormers. I expect a close game on Saturday and for that reason I will not be betting on this one. I think the Stormers will lose, but not by nine or more.

Rebels (-3.5) vs Reds (+3.5)          
Weather: Possible rain

If you are spending the Easter weekend watching these two teams then you either are a die-hard with a vengeance Vodacom Super Rugby fan or, like me, you have some money on the game! These teams are terrible, but who's worse? I believe the Reds can lay claim to that honour and here’s why. They have averaged less than 10 points a game and scored only four tries all tournament, while the Rebels have averaged close to 20 points and scored 10 tries. On attack the Rebels have also averaged over 150 running metres more per game. It's hard to see the Reds doing well here, but remember the Rebels have not faired well against the Reds in the past, winning only once and have never beaten them in Melbourne. I expect the Rebels to lay that bogey to rest on Friday and win comfortably. I am looking for some nice payoffs this weekend and have put down R200 for the Rebels to win by 13 or more points at 7/2, which means I would receive R700 plus my R200 back. Obviously I think the Rebels will cover the spread of -3.5 points.

Chiefs (-9.5) vs Blues(+9.5)  
Weather: Fine

The winless Blues will still have that tag line after this game has been played, the only question is by how many points they will lose. The Blues turn over the ball far too often and against the Chiefs this could be deadly. I expect a reasonably high-scoring game with the Chiefs winning by double digits. I have put down R500 for the Chiefs to be leading by five or more at half-time, @9/10 this pays out R450 plus my stake of R500.

Brumbies (-14.5) vs Cheetahs (+14.5)    
Weather: Overcast

I have no doubt this game will be a high-scoring affair and the Brumbies will win comfortably, but to win by two converted tries and a penalty is asking a little too much. Even if the Brumbies amass a big lead, as a punter you have to worry about them taking their foot off the accelerator late in the game, and the Cheetahs are a stubborn bunch who relish the underdog tag. I will not be betting on this one, but I expect the Cheetahs to lose by 10 and cover that 14.5 spread.

Sharks (-1.5) vs Crusaders (+1.5)     
Weather: Chance of thunder/lightning

This is a must-win game for both sides. The Crusaders can ill-afford to lose back-to-back games as the distance between them and the Hurricanes and Chiefs on the log is not insignificant. The Sharks can ill-afford to drop this home game, especially when you consider they are yet to embark on their overseas tour. Throw in some inclement weather and this could be like the other Sharks games, ugly! No team knows how to win ugly games quite like the Crusaders, they always tend to win when it matters, and I expect them to do just that on Saturday. The fact is the Sharks have yet to look good this season. They play a tactical game, kicking possession away. They have not tackled well this season, averaging 20-plus missed tackles a game, and against this experienced Crusaders side that may well be the difference. The Crusaders will win this game outright and I have this game as my banker and am putting down R1,000 @11/10 on the men from Christchurch.

Lions (+2.5) vs Bulls (-2.5)
Weather: Fine

The last game of the weekend is the one I am looking forward to the most. The Lions surprised many on their overseas tour winning three out of four, and the Bulls have emerged from their poor early-season form. The Bulls are missing two key players in Handré Pollard and Victor Matfield, which could prove to be the difference in a derby like this.This one should be one for the rugby purists. The Lions have done enough lately for me to tip them to win this game outright. Take the 13/10 that’s on offer for this to happen. I have taken them in an accumulator so no cash from me on this game.

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