Super Rugby Semi’s: Hurricanes v Chiefs

rugby union odds
Hurricanes v Chiefs: Saturday 5.35pm (AEST)
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Best Bet: Hurricanes 1-12 ($2.60)
Value Bet: Hurricanes 1-5 ($4.25)

It’s a mouth-watering North Island derby for the first spot in the decider, with both teams sweating on the fitness of key players ahead of what shapes as one of the great Super Rugby semis.

Selection Notes

Hurricanes skipper and All Blacks hooker Dane Coles is a touch-and-go proposition, with Ricky Riccitelli the likely replacement in the No.2 jumper. Test winger Julian Savea was benched last week in favour of Matt Proctor coming in at centre, with Jason Woodward moving to the wing; they are likely to remain with that backline combination.

The Chiefs have been given a double-boost, with explosive All Blacks centre Seta Tamanivalu and Test No.7 and captain Sam Cane both looking likely to play. Veteran Stephen Donald has been ruled out on contention with injury, however.

History

The Hurricanes have won 14 and the Chiefs 12 of 27 previous clashes, with one match drawn. The ’Canes lead the count 9-5 at home, but the Chiefs scored a controversial one-point win in Wellington earlier this season.

Form

After surging to the top of the Super Rugby standings with high-quality wins over the Waratahs and Crusaders, the Hurricanes were scintillating in a 41-0 quarter-final rout of the Sharks in atrocious Wellington conditions. TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett were particularly brilliant in a superb team display.

The Chiefs rebounded emphatically from the tough final-round defeat to the Highlanders that cost them top spot, blowing the Stormers away 60-21 in Cape Town. The visitors ran in eight tries to three, with fullback Damian McKenzie in blistering touch.

Key Matchup

There’s crucial individual showdowns right across the park, but none more crucial than that of All Blacks teammates Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett in the No.10 jumpers. Both have enjoyed outstanding seasons, but Cruden needs to lift his game a notch to match Barrett’s career-best form of late.

Stats That Matter

The Hurricanes are 11-5 against the start in 2016, while the Chiefs are 10-6 ATS this year. The Hurricanes are 15-3 at home since the start of 2015 (9-9 ATS). The Chiefs are 11-7 on the road since the start of 2015 (12-6 ATS). Seven of the teams’ last eight games have been decided by 1-12 margins. Home sides are 79-57-3 this season (72-67 against the start). Home favourites are 70-23 overall and 54-39 ATS in 2016.

Final Thoughts

Both teams were brilliant against South African opponents last weekend, with their packs ruthless and their backlines humming. Perenara and Barrett are shading their Chiefs counterparts form-wise at present, but the freakish Damian McKenzie provides the visitors with real X-factor from fullback. The Chiefs also appear to hold an edge in the tight-five – particularly if Coles is ruled unfit – but few loose forwards have been as dynamic as Ardie Savea in 2016, and a bumper home crowd can spur the Hurricanes to a second straight home final.

The Way It’s Shaping

Hurricanes by 5

Recommended Bet

Hurricanes 1-12 ($2.60)

Value Bet 

Hurricanes 1-5 ($4.25)

The Wolf’s Super Rugby Semi Finals Tips

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