Down the Blindside: Super Rugby Round 3

The Brumbies were able to provide Aussie fans with a glimmer of hope with an encouraging 54-17 win over the Chiefs at home. Australia’s most consistent Super Rugby franchise will be aiming to inflict further pain on a Hurricanes side licking their wounds from a spanking at the hands of the Crusaders in round two. 

The Rebels will be quietly confident of causing an upset at home when they host the
Highlanders, leaving the Reds to battle the Crusaders in Brisbane on Saturday night.

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Round 3 Bye: NSW Waratahs

Hurricanes vs Brumbies

When & Where: Friday 1st March, 5.35PM, Central Energy Trust Arena Palmerston North

Keep an eye on: Ben Lam
The Hurricanes fullback has continued his rich vein of form that saw him finish at the summit of the 2018 try scoring list, crossing the line 16 times. The New Zealand international has scored two tries from as many appearances and will welcome the chance to start alongside Beauden Barrett this weekend.

Match Comment
The 2015 Super Rugby Champions have struggled for their usual consistency across the opening two rounds of the competition. The Hurricanes were lucky to escape with a one-point win against the Waratahs in the opening round, before being outplayed by the Crusaders 38-22 last week. The Brumbies will be quietly confident of causing another boilover against Kiwi opposition in enemy territory. The Brumbies have won six of their last seven outings against the Canes and will be bolstered by the return of David Pocock.

Who Wins & Why?
With Beauden Barrett slotting into the side, Canes' fans will be quietly confident of their side getting the job done at home this weekend. The Hurricanes have won 22 of their last 23 home games, with only the Chiefs breaking down their dominance at home in 2017.

Betting Value
I simply can’t bring myself to tip against the Hurricanes at home against Australian opposition and the model is in agreement. The model has the Hurricanes winning straight up in 88% of 10,000 match simulations. View the model’s suggested bets here.

Rebels vs Highlanders

When & Where: Friday 1st March, 7.45PM, AAMI Park Melbourne

Keep an Eye on: Quade Cooper
The enigmatic Cooper won’t be resting on his laurels when he takes the field this weekend after the former Wallaby half put in a classy display in his side’s opening round win over the Brumbies. Cooper will need another strong performance this week against a Highlanders opposition set to rest some of their international stars.

Match Comment
The Highlanders were able to keep the Reds at bay last week to record a 36-31 win. The Kiwi side have had their hand forced by All Blacks management this week with Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock set for an enforced spell on the sidelines. The Highlanders hold a 6-1 record against the Rebels, but this will be the first time the teams have met in Melbourne, since the Western Force contingent came into the home side. Reece Hodge slots back into a Wallaby filled backline, while Adam Coleman will provide some grunt to the Rebels pack.

Who Wins & Why?
Jack Maddocks was the standout for the home side, opening his account with two tries against the Brumbies. The benefit of having Quade Cooper at half was plain to see in their opening round win. The Highlanders have conceded 63-points in their opening two matches of the season and I’m tipping a Rebels side fresh off a bye to cause an upset against their more fancied Kiwi opponents.

Betting Value
I’m predicting plenty of drama if the home side plays to their potential. The model has given the Rebels the edge this week, with a 54% projection in the H2H stakes following 10,000 simulations of this match. Take a look here at the model’s suggested bets.

Chiefs vs Sunwolves

When & Where: Saturday 2nd March, 5.35PM, FMG Stadium Waikato Hamilton

Keep an Eye on: Gerhard van den Heeve
The South African born winger has had no issues getting his side out of the red zone. Heeve has gained 10.7m per carry this season, the most of any of player with 204 meters over the opening two games this season.

Match Comment
After a surprising 54-17 mauling at the hands of the Brumbies last week, you’d expect the home side to right a few wrongs against the visitors. The Sunwolves ‘almost’ caused a boil over last week, pushing the Waratahs to the final minute in a 30-31 loss. This will be only the third clash between these two sides, and I’m expecting the Chiefs to turn on the style at home. The Chiefs have won 11 of their last 12 matches at home against opposition from outside of New Zealand. Don’t expect the Sunwolves to rewrite history this week.

Who Wins & Why?
The home side’s defence has been non-existent in the opening two rounds of the 2019 campaign, conceding 84 points. The home side piled on 61 points against the Sunwolves in their only clash last year and look for All Black Damian McKenzie to be amongst the points.

Betting Value
The model is tipping the Chiefs to return to form and has them projected well ahead in the H2H stakes at 98%. Check out the model’s suggested bets here.

Reds vs Crusaders

When & Where: Saturday 2nd March, 7.45PM, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane

Keep an eye on: Moses Sorovi
While the hype is around Jordan Petaia, keep an eye on Moses Sorovi. The No. 9 has gone about his work with a minimum of fuss to record two tries and an assist in his opening two games.

Match Comment
There were plenty of positives to take from the Reds 36-31 loss to the Highlanders last week. While the Queensland side have shown plenty of spirit, they won’t be satisfied with anything less than a win this week. The Crusaders picked up from where they left off in 2018, dismantling the Hurricanes with ease, 38-22. The defending champs have won 17 consecutive Super Rugby matches and will start as overwhelming favourites against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Who Wins & Why?
After last week’s performance Reds coach Brad Thorn is on the cusp of turning this writer into a true believer. But the Crusaders are the equivalent of the NBA's Golden State Warriors of Super Rugby. The visitors have won their last six on the bounce against the Reds. Their discipline at the set piece is unmatched, and a 92% success rate at the line-out will be one of the keys to their victory on Saturday.

Betting Value
The model is still on the Crusader's bandwagon this week and has them nabbing a 12+ win at 67% in the big win/little win market. View the model’s suggested bets.

Lions vs Bulls

When & Where: Saturday 2nd March, 12.05AM, Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg

Keep an Eye on: Handre Pollard
The Springboks flyhalf has been a point-scoring machine across the opening two rounds of 2019. Pollard has 32 points to his name in his opening two matches, including a flawless performance against the Stormers in the opening round.

Match Comment
After blowing an eight-point lead to lose to the Stormers 19-17, the Lions will be determined to put in a full 80-minute performance this week. Their second loss to South African opposition in 24 games should galvanise the home side if they play to their potential this week. The Bulls were brought back to earth by Jaguares last week, in a 27-12 loss on the road. The home side have won six of their last seven matches against the Bulls and should have no issues against a Bulls side that has struggled on the road.

Who Wins & Why?
The Bulls struggles on the road are well documented, so expect South Africa’s most successful Super Rugby franchise to get the points this week. Super Rugby is an 80-minute game and no one understands that lesson better than the Lions now.

Betting Value
The model has been seduced by the Lions record at home, comfortably tipping them at 76% in the H2H stakes after 10,000 match simulations. View the model’s suggested bets.

Sharks vs Stormers

When & Where: Sunday 3rd March, 1.15AM, Kings Park Stadium

Keep an eye on: Dillyn Leyds
The Stormers winger is a proven performer away from home. Leyds has claimed three tries in his last three away matches, making a total of 34 carries for 209 meters in the same period.

Match Comment
The Sharks continued their rich vein of form last week, recording a 26-7 win over the Blues at home. The Stormers have endured an inconsistent start to the season, with a 40-3 loss to the Bulls followed by a shock 19-17 win over the Lions last week. The Sharks will be hunting for their third consecutive win for the first time since the 2017 season. The home side have won four of their last five matches against the Stormers, with a superior scrum giving them the edge in what should be a tight contest.

Who Wins & Why?
After last week’s performance, you can see why everyone's neighbours and their dogs love the Stormers. The Stormers responded to their 40-3 opening week loss, to record the upset of the round. But, consistency has been an issue for the visitors and the Sharks form right now makes them irresistible.

Betting Value
The model thinks the Sharks have what it takes to make it three wins from as many starts this week. The home side are favoured in 68% of 10,000 match simulations to claim a win in front of the Kings Park faithful, but there's a green smiley value bet on the points spread to keep an eye on. Check out the model’s suggested bets.

Jaguares vs Blues

When & Where: Sunday 3rd March, 8.40AM, Estadio José Amalfitani

Keep an eye on: Akira Ioane
The All Blacks rate the Blues #8 highly, and it’s easy to see why. Ioane has been a standout for the Auckland outfit this season with 31 carries, more than any other player across the opening two Super Rugby rounds.

Match Comment
Things don’t get any easier for the Blues, after succumbing to a 26-7 loss to the Sharks last week. A change of coach in the offseason hasn’t translated on the field, with the Blues putting in an insipid performance in round two. Jaguares showed plenty of grit to record a 27-12 win over the Bulls at the same ground. Jaguars have won four of their last five matches at home and with the Blues dropping their last three on the road expect the South Americans to claim the points.

Who Wins & Why?
The visitors could see their Super Rugby Finals hopes dashed this week, with another loss anchoring them to the foot of the New Zealand Conference. Jaguares claimed a win in their last outing in Auckland and I’m backing the discipline of the home side at the set piece to get them across the line against the Kiwi side.

Betting Value
The model agrees, with some value to be found in a 50/50 market with the line at
+3 points. Take a look at the model’s suggested bets.

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READ: What is the Edge?

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Daniel Gardner

Dan’s claim to fame was once being mistaken for David Beckham while living in South Korea. The ex U/8 most improved football prodigy now spends his days solving the mysteries of Wallaby selections and debating the quota of WA players in the Australian cricket team.

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