Super Rugby Round 19

It’s the final round of the Super Rugby season but the top-eight picture is far from settled. The Rebels need an upset in NZ to confirm a historic finals berth, while the Brumbies are chasing a miracle against the Waratahs. The Wolf has made Brumbies +7.5 his best of the week.

Round 19 Preview and Tips

Chiefs vs Hurricanes (5:35pm Friday 13th July)
In a dress rehearsal of the following week’s quarter-final, the fifth-placed Chiefs take on the fourth-placed Hurricanes. The playoff will be staged in Wellington – unless the Chiefs can pull off a big bonus-point victory at home on Friday. The Hamilton side are in good touch, thrashing the Highlanders in Fiji before holding off the desperate Brumbies last week. The Hurricanes returned to form in the nick of time in Round 18, ending a three-game losing streak with a 42-24 win over the Blues. The Chiefs are 7-4 in their last 11 against the ’Canes and have a favourable record in the North Island rivalry at home, but they’ll need to reverse a convincing 25-13 loss in the NZ capital from Round 9. There’s a hint of dead-rubber about this but neither side will be wanting to go into the following week’s rematch off a defeat. The Wolf expects this to go down to the wire.
Best Bet: Triple Margin I – Any Other Result (Either Team by Under 7.5 or Draw) ($2.25)
Value Bet: Chiefs 1-12 ($3.20)

Reds vs Sunwolves (7:45pm Friday 13th July)
Speaking of dead-rubbers, the 13th-placed Reds host the bottom-placed Sunwolves in the only Round 19 clash that has no bearing on the finals. But the Reds will be out to atone for one of their darkest days, a 63-28 loss to the unfancied Sunwolves in Hong Kong only a couple of months ago. It was the Sunwolves’ biggest-ever Super Rugby victory and they used it as a springboard to win two of their next four, but the euphoria subsided last week in a 77-25 thrashing at the hands of the Waratahs. The Hong Kong defeat kicked off a five-game losing streak for the Reds, which they snapped in Round 18 with a stunning 37-23 win over a Rebels side that had plenty to play for. The Sunwolves went down by just 10 points in their only previous visit to Brisbane (in 2016) but the Wolf is banking on a bigger margin this time with the Reds showing some belated good form to finish the season.
Best Bet: Reds 13+ ($1.90)
Value Bet: Reds 21-25 ($9.00)

Highlanders vs Rebels (3:15pm Saturday 14th July)
The Rebels wilted big-time when a finals berth was there to be taken last week, crashing 37-23 to the struggling Reds. Now they need a huge upset in Dunedin to qualify for a historic playoffs campaign – or hope the Sharks go down to the Jaguares at home. The sixth-placed Highlanders are looking for a momentum-changer after being pumped by the Chiefs and Crusaders in the past fortnight, losing by a scoreline of 45-22 in each game. The Highlanders have won five of their six previous clashes with the Rebels – including all three at home – and swept to a 51-12 win under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium in 2017. The 7-8 Rebels’ confidence looks shot and the 9-6 Highlanders’ bevy of world-class talent should come to the fore to help carve out a convincing victory.
Best Bet: Highlanders 13+ ($1.76)
Value Bet: Highlanders 16-20 ($5.00) 

Crusaders vs Blues (5:35pm Saturday 14th July)
The Crusaders are eight points clear of the field and look unstoppable in their march towards a second straight Super Rugby crown. They have won 11 straight and returned from the international break and subsequent bye in Round 18 like they’d never been away, thumping the Highlanders 45-22 in a dominant all-round display. The hapless 4-11 Blues are second-last and probably can’t wait for the season to be over, losing any goodwill from a big win over the Reds in Round 17 with an ordinary loss to the Hurricanes last weekend – their 18th consecutive loss to a New Zealand rival. The Crusaders are 10-2 in their last 12 against the Blues and have won seven in a row between the pair. The Blues also have a dreadful 3-12 away record in the rivalry, and a better-than-usual 3-4 record on the road in 2018 won’t rescue them from a sound beating here as the Crusaders look to hit the finals in tip-top shape.
Best Bet: Crusaders -14.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Crusaders 30+ ($3.65) 

Waratahs vs Brumbies (7:45pm Saturday 14th July)
The Waratahs clinched the Australian Conference title last weekend by obliterating the Sunwolves 77-25. The Brumbies, meanwhile, are clinging to the faintest of playoffs hopes despite a gut-wrenching five-point loss to the Chiefs last week that snapped their three-game revival. The Brumbies require a bonus-point win here and for the Rebels and Sharks to both lose their games to sneak into eighth. The Waratahs are 5-1 in their last six against the Brumbies, including a 24-17 victory in Canberra earlier this season. The 13+ margin is 5-2 in the teams’ last seven encounters, but the Wolf is tipping a much closer affair – particularly with the Brumbies turning a corner in recent weeks.
Best Bet: Brumbies +7.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Brumbies 1-12 ($4.00)

Lions vs Bulls (11:05pm Saturday 14th July)
The Lions, who had the Round 18 bye, earned a reprieve last week with the Jaguares losing but they still need to finish the regular season with a win to seal a third consecutive South African Conference crown. They lost to the Sharks in their first match out of the international break, bringing a 21-game winning run against fellow SA teams to an end. The Bulls, despite being out of the finals picture, upset the Jaguares 43-34 in Round 18 (after going down to the Sunwolves a week earlier) and are aiming for another surprise result to finish a campaign of lost opportunities. The Bulls have won just one of their last six against the Lions, though, including a 49-35 home loss earlier this year. The Lions are below their best but the Ellis Park factor should prove decisive – the Lions are 5-2 at home in 2018, while the Bulls are a dismal 1-6 on the road.
Best Bet: Bulls +10.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Lions 1-12 ($3.00)

Sharks vs Jaguares (1:15am Sunday 15th July)
The Jaguares will play finals football for the first time in 2018, despite an away loss to the Bulls in Round 18 when a win would have seen them jump into top spot in the SA Conference. The Argentine outfit, who won their previous seven games on the trot, can still leapfrog the Lions with a win in Durban if the Lions lose to the Bulls. They have their work cut out against the Sharks, however. If the Rebels lose to the Highlanders, the Sharks will grab eighth spot with a defeat of the Jaguares. But the Sharks will be ruing last week’s loss to the Stormers. The Jaguares are 0-7 in their last seven matches on South African soil, which doesn’t bode well against a Sharks side that boasts a 5-1-1 record at home this year – including victories over the Highlanders, Chiefs and Lions during the second half of the season.
Best Bet: Sharks -3.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Sharks 1-12 ($2.75)