All of the best bets as the Hurricanes take on the Reds, the Lions play the Brumbies and the Sharks face off against the Chiefs in Round 14:
Whether they blow their opposition away or not, the Hurricanes are just winning all their games at the moment and they are thought to be too good for the lifeless Reds in Wellington. The beaten semi-finalists last year have set about regaining their title with real vigour and whilst all good things must come to an end – in sports especially – they are well capable of making it ten straight wins on the bounce, with Ladbrokes listing them at 1/33 to take the Reds down.
The Reds ended a four match losing streak with a fine victory over last season’s runners up in the shape of the Lions two weeks ago but they were deplorable last Saturday when losing to basement dwellers Sunwolves.
They were truly trashed by the Japanese outfit – who had lost every other game this season – and if their kicking game is as abysmal as it was that weekend then they will be torn apart by a Hurricanes backline that is arguably the best in the competition, or even the world by Club Rugby standards.
It was the lineout drive that would prove to be the difference for the Canes as they beat the Blues last week at Eden Park but in the shape of Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea, and Ben Lam they have brilliant options to return weak kicking if Jono Lance is off his game once again.
Beauden Barrett, on the other hand, kicked straight as a barrel last week to finish with an 11-point haul courtesy of four conversions and a penalty and he should be on the winning side again. A 30-point handicap is fair, but perhaps splitting stakes between the 21-30 and 31-40 point winning margins might be the best option – it would have been successful in the Reds last four defeats. This one should be great for rugby betting fans.
The Lions have had a rough tour of Australia and New Zealand, but they performed with credit and they ought to get back to winning ways against the Brumbies at Ellis Park. The Brumbies lost their fourth match in success when ceding a 21-5 lead to The Rebels last week in Canberra despite early tries from Thomas Cusack, Faalelei Sione and Rob Valetini, with a one-man advantage proving very helpful during the first half when their advantage was built.
However, they will have been disappointed not to see it through and now face a steep rise in class. The Lions are on a three-match losing streak but all three have come away from home and there is no shame in defeats to the Highlanders and Hurricanes on New Zealand soil.
It’s worth remembering that they started their travels with a 29-0 demolition of the Waratahs and the Hurricanes side that beat them 28-19 last week is now going for a tenth straight win on the bounce.
They showed plenty of the qualities that got them to a second straight final last week when nearly coming back from 19-3 down in Dunedin using their particularly effective rolling maul which brought two tries for hooker Robbie Coetzee, who has done a fine job of replacing Malcolm Marx.
In the long term, there are worries for the Lions in terms of combating teams who employ the irish defence – as well as New Zealand sides, given that they haven’t beaten one this season and lost the final to the Crusaders last term – but they are a high-quality side who should be too good for the Brumbies on home soil, as is evidenced by Paddy Power’s listed odds of 1/8 for them to come out on top.
The Chiefs have managed and injury crisis extremely well to keep the heat on their rivals in the race for the playoffs, but their absences could prove too much when they travel to the Sharks on Saturday.
The visitors did very well to outmuscle the Stormers last week when a brilliant usef of a penalty advantage from Damian McKenzie led to an Anton-Lienert Brown try that was backed up by their forwards, but the Sharks look to be an even tougher test.
The Sharks were edged out by the Bulls in a thriller last week when attacks were on top but in the past two weeks they had been very impressive at Kings Park, first of all beating the Stormers 24-17 and then giving a complete thrashing to the Highlanders.
Their pack was once again on top there with the crumbling Kings Park surface helping but the likes of Robert du Preez, Makazole Mapimpi and Curwin Bosch can show why they’re in the running for Springbok squads here. You can find both the Sharks and the Chiefs at 10/11 with top rugby betting sites.