Super Rugby Round 17

The Test rugby interruption is out of the way, allowing the Super Rugby competition to resume for the last three regular-season rounds. Round 17 is headlined by a decisive Australian derby between the Rebels and Waratahs, while a pair of Kiwi heavyweights take the 15-a-side gospel to Fiji.

We Won’t have to wait long for the Wolf’s  best this week as it comes in the first game of the round – Reds +11.5!

Round 17 Preview and Tips

Blues vs Reds (5:35pm Friday 29th June)
Super Rugby returns from the international break with a bit of a fizzer between bottom-three strugglers the Blues and the Reds. But both teams will be eager to finish dismal campaigns on a high note. The 4-9 Reds have lost their last four games, though they did push the Chiefs and Highlanders all the way before going down 52-41 to the Waratahs in Round 16. Riddled with injuries, the 3-10 Blues hit a new low via a 20-10 loss to the Rebels – becoming the first Kiwi outfit to lose at home to an Aussie side in two years. The Blues have a 7-1-2 home record against the Reds, but seven of the sides’ last nine encounters were decided by 1-12 margins and this clash appears headed the same way. The Wolf likes the look of the Reds with a handy start, though the Blues should lift in Jerome Kaino’s last home game for the club.
Best Bet: Reds +11.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Blues 1-12 ($2.70)

Rebels vs Waratahs (7:45pm Friday 29th June)
Just one point separates the Australian Conference-leading Waratahs and the Rebels with three rounds remaining. This clash will likely decide who finishes top, which means the difference between a home quarter-final and a likely trip to Christchurch or Johannesburg in week one of the finals. The ’Tahs emerged from a horror five-game section of the draw that garnered just one win with a 52-41 away victory over the Reds in Round 16. The Rebels have put a mid-season slump behind them with three straight wins over the Brumbies, Sunwolves and Blues. The Waratahs punished the Rebels 51-27 at home earlier this season (after trailing 20-3) and have won five of their six games in Melbourne, as well as crafting a 12-2 all-time record against the Rebels. The Rebels are tempting outsiders – especially with Israel Folau facing suspension – but the Wolf can’t look past the Waratahs’ excellent record in the rivalry and the injury absence of Will Genia.
Best Bet: Waratahs WIN ($1.65)
Value Bet: Waratahs 13+ ($3.90)

Highlanders vs Chiefs (5:35pm Saturday 30th June)
Just three points separate the Highlanders and Chiefs on the Super Rugby ladder as they head to Fiji for a heavyweight showdown, though the difference between finishing fifth (a likely away quarter-final against the Hurricanes) and sixth (an away quarter against the top Australian team) arguably favours the lower-ranked side. The Chiefs came into the international break in wobbly form, losing to the Jaguares and Sharks either side of a tense win over the Stormers, but Damian McKenzie’s outings for the All Blacks will have the Highlanders on high alert. The Highlanders thumped the Hurricanes in Round 16 and their non-internationals kept match-fit with a game against French Barbarians last Friday. After losing six straight to the Highlanders, the Chiefs have won the last two between the sides – including a come-from-behind 27-22 result in Hamilton earlier this season. Flip a coin here – there is nothing between these big guns.
Best Bet: Triple Margin I – Any Other Result (Either Team by 7 and Under or Draw) ($2.25)
Value Bet: Highlanders by 1-5 ($4.50)

Brumbies vs Hurricanes (7:45pm Saturday 30th June)
The Brumbies need to win all three of their remaining games to have any chance of making the finals – and that do-or-die run starts with a daunting clash against a Hurricanes outfit with the second-best record in the competition. The 5-8 Brumbies ended a five-game losing streak with consecutive victories over the Bulls and Sunwolves before the international break to buoy their faint playoff hopes. The 10-3 Hurricanes suffered back-to-back losses to the Crusaders and Highlanders heading into the break, while Ardie Savea was a Test match casualty and will be missing until the finals, and Beauden Barrett, Brad Shields and Vaea Fifita are reportedly unlikely to travel across the Tasman. The Brumbies have won five of their last seven against the Hurricanes, including a 52-10 mauling in the last clash in Canberra back in early-2016, but the ’Canes put the Brumbies to the sword 56-21 on NZ soil last season. The Hurricanes’ absentees provide an excellent opportunity for the Brumbies but the Wolf still can’t see the visitors losing.
Best Bet: Brumbies +11.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Hurricanes 1-12 ($2.75)

Sunwolves vs Bulls (9:55pm Saturday 30th June)
The Sunwolves may sit last on the ladder but in their last two home games they put 63 points on the Reds and pulled off a stunning last-gasp win over the Stormers. Meanwhile, they edged out the Bulls 21-20 in Tokyo last season – and they’re a far better team this season. But the 5-8 Bulls are also an improved outfit in 2018 and are desperately trying to keep their finals hopes afloat after losing four of their last five games. Winning on the road isn’t the Bulls’ strong suit, however – they are 1-5 this season – and the Sunwolves will also be boosted by the performances of their international contingent during Japan’s recent Test schedule. The Sunwolves have been a hugely profitable play in line betting this season – going 6-1 against the start in their past seven – and they’re hard to ignore again at home.
Best Bet: Sunwolves +7.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Sunwolves WIN ($3.05)

Sharks vs Lions (1:15am Sunday 1st July)
The Lions can all but seal top spot in the South African Conference this weekend, while the ninth-placed Sharks are just about in a must-win situation as far as their finals prospects are concerned. After losing their last three games on tour in Australia and New Zealand, the 8-6 Lions bounced back with wins over the Brumbies and Stormers before the Test rugby window. The 5-1-7 Sharks have been frustratingly inconsistent, knocking off the Highlanders and Chiefs but losing to the Bulls and Jaguars in their past four games. The Lions have won seven straight against the Sharks – including a 26-19 victory in Round 1 this year – but the stat that makes it impossible to back against the Johannesburg outfit is the fact they’ve won in incredible 21 games in a row against their fellow South African sides.
Best Bet: Lions -4 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Lions by 11-15 ($7.50)

Jaguares vs Stormers (3:40am Sunday 1st July)
The Jaguares have a maiden finals berth at their mercy after going on a six-match winning streak leading into the international break, including winning all four games on their tour of Australia and New Zealand. But the 8-5 Jags still need at least one more win to make a bird of it – and Argentina’s subpar showings against Wales and Scotland won’t have done their Test stars’ confidence any good. The 5-9 Stormers only have two games left and are virtually out of the running – a by-product of their woeful start to the season. The Cape Town outfit lost their last two games to the Sunwolves and Lions by identical 26-23 scorelines. The Stormers are 3-0 against the Jaguares but the fortunes of both franchises have swung dramatically in 2018. With plenty to play for, the Wolf is confident in the Jaguares’ ability to pick up where they left off last month.
Best Bet: HT/NT – Jaguares/Jaguares ($1.80)
Value Bet: Jaguares by 11-15 ($6.00)