We’re down to the business end of the Currie Cup and as usual, it’s the big four unions- the ones who are South Africa’s Super Rugby representatives, who will square off in the semifinals.
Natal Cell C Sharks v Golden Lions (SF 1)
Sharks- 7/15, Golden Lions 15/18
The Sharks have home advantage for this, and coach Robert du Preez has chosen to restore his son Rob jnr to flyhalf after playing him at inside centre in the previous game. That means a return to full back for Curwin Bosch, who played at 10 against Griquas. Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder will captain the team.
The Lions have some of their key Super Rugby personnel back, with the likes of Aphiwe Dyantyi, Warren Whiteley and Elton Jantjies all starting at Kings Park this weekend. Like the Sharks, they have a scrummie as skipper in Nic Groom (despite the availability of regular SR leader Whiteley for this clash)
Western Province vs Blue Bulls SF 2
WP- 1/10, Bulls at 41/4
As convincing odds in favour of Western Province that you’d see, and this is a semifinal. Province romped through the group stages, beating everyone in the competition, and got the better of the Bulls at Loftus in a rain affected encounter last week.
Can South Africa beat the All Blacks for the second time in a row? They upset them in Wellington three weeks ago, and victory at Loftus Versfeld would make this a very successful campaign for Rassie Erasmus’ men. By comparison, despite winning the tournament, a loss here would feel like a very poor RC for Steve Hansen’s side.
Odds on South Africa beating the All Blacks at Loftus 2018: 19/5
Odds on All Blacks beat Springboks at Loftus 2018: 3/10
Argentina can condemn Australia to last place in the Rugby Championship if they win at home. The Pumas beat the Wallabies on the Gold Coast, and another loss might see the powers that be at the A R U move to sack Michael Cheika before the November tour.
Argentina are being quoted at 16/19, while the Wallabies are at 6/5.
New Zealand will look to bounce back from their shock loss against South Africa in Wellington when they take on the Pumas at Velez Sarsfield. For Argentina, this represents one of their best opportunities to beat the All Blacks after running them close in Nelson and beating Australia on the Gold Coast in Round 4.
Victories for Argentina and South Africa would keep the Rugby Championship alive, with the potential of a mouth watering decider in Pretoria next week (a la the 2013 clash between the Springboks and the All Blacks at Ellis Park, regarded as one of the best games this decade)
South Africa v Australia: SA 2/5, Aus 11/4, Draw 33/1
South Africa lost to Australia in Brisbane in Round 3- the Wallabies’ only victory of the RC so far. Michael Cheika’s side had lineout issues in the loss to Argentina and Port Elizabeth being a windy city may not do much to improve stats on that front.
The Springboks will be without No.8 Warren Whiteley and the midfield pairing of Damian De Allende and Lukhanyo Am, all injured in the loss against the All Blacks.
Argentina v New Zealand: Argentina 15/2, Draw 50/1, All Blacks 1/8
The All Blacks have never lost in the Rugby Championship in Argentina, but the Pumas are brimming with confidence and will be backed by a partisan crowd. The All Black pack lacks a bit of experience, with skipper Kieran Read not making the trip to South America, and this could be an area for the Pumas to target.
The Rugby Championship has retained the same schedule for this year as it did for previous versions, and the results on the opening day of the weekend weren’t too difficult to predict- New Zealand beating Australia in Sydney and South Africa downing Argentina in Durban. Kings Park however saw only 27 000 in attendance– a far cry from the days one would’ve seen 40 or 50 000 at the venue comfortably.
New Zealand had a tough first half and so did South Africa- both teams trailed at the break to their opponents, but found their mojo in the second half to race to a comfortable win.
New Zealand will be without Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane this weekend, with Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett coming into the XV as replacements.
South Africa have effectively kept a similar squad, with the introduction of Franco Mostert for Pieter-Steph du Toit the only change in their XV. The likes of Ross Cronje, Lwazi Mvovo and Jean-luc du Preez, the last of whom was named in the Super Rugby Team of the Year for 2018, have not travelled to Argentina.
Odds for New Zealand v Australia
All Blacks: 1/14
Odds for Argentina v South Africa
Los Pumas: 23/10
South Africa: 1/2
The mighty Crusaders are being favoured to retain their Super Rugby title when they host the Lions from Johannesburg in Christchurch on Saturday.
The game is a repeat of last year’s final, which the Saders won at Emirates Airline Park, aided by Jaco Peyper’s decision to red card Kwagga Smith for his collision with opposition full back David Havilli.
There is no room for sentiment for the Crusaders, who have chosen not to included the record setting Wyatt Crockett in their 23. Nobody would’ve really criticised Scott Robertson had Crockett being included, but the 200 cap veteran will have to watch from the stands, with Tim Perry and Joe Moody preferred to do duty at loosehead. Continue reading “Super Rugby Final 2018 Odds- Crusaders favourite to retain crown”
On paper it’s a David v Goliath clash. The table topping Crusaders, who have lost only two games all season vs an inconsistent Sharks outfit who only sneaked into the playoffs because the Melbourne Rebels absolutely bottled their chances at the business end of the tournament.
The Sharks have been dreadful travellers this season, but their solitary win on the road was against a New Zealand team (the Blues). They also ran the Canes close in Napier (albeit a Canes side without TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett), and lost by one point after the hooter.
The Durban based outfit are also without star blindside flanker Jean-Luc du Preez, who leads the competition this season for offloads- the Sharks are the competition’s top offloaders, but have struggled to score tries.
All stats seem to point to a Crusaders win, and few expect the Sharks to do an encore of their famous 2014 win in Chch.
94% of those on SuperBru have predicted a Crusaders win, at the time of writing.
Best odds on the Crusaders- 1/10 (BetVictor)
Best odds on the Sharks- 16/1 (SkyBet)