It is that time of the week when we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby’s predictions.
Super Rugby enters its final round before a break while there’s the Premiership and PRO12 final on Saturday.
We’ve carefully picked out the best rugby union bets on offer and, as always, Paddy Power is our bookmaker.
The Brumbies, fresh off a bye and looking for a victory that would take them a step closer to that much prized play-off position, host the Sunwolves on Saturday. The Brumbies have made three changes to their starting side with Michael Dowsett replacing Tomás Cubelli at scrum-half, Ruan Smith comes in for Ben Alexander at tighthead prop and Robbie Coleman returns from injury at inside centre. The Sunwolves will welcome back inspirational captain Shota Horie at hooker and his presence will give them a boost on the field at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
The Brumbies sit in second place on the Australian conference table with 29 points which includes seven wins and four losses from eleven games thus far. The Sunwolves have only managed one win and one draw along with their nine defeats in eleven matches which leaves them in seventh place in the South African group with nine points, however they have showed that they can produce the odd shock result this term.
The Brumbies start as 1/50 favourites while the Sunwolves are being written off with odds of 11/1. The season is coming to an end for the team from Japan and they will want to put in some strong performances in order to end the year off on a high. We’re not guaranteeing that the Sunwolves will produce the shock result of the round but with in-form centre Derek Carpenter and try scoring machine Akihito Yamada, they do have the quality to give any team trouble on their day so why not back the visitors to give the home franchise a big scare in the first-half with odds of 8/1. We also predict a winning margin of 1-10 for the Brumbies, which will give you odds of 7/1 with Paddy Power.
The 2014 Super Rugby champions host the form team of this year’s Super Rugby competition on Saturday. The Waratahs have made four changes to their XV which went down 29-10 to the Crusaders last weekend. Wycliff Palu starts at number eight while Zac Guildford earns a spot on the wing. Matt Carraro starts on the opposite wing and Rob Horne will run out at inside centre in his 100th game for the team. The Chiefs have consistency on their side with only one change from the XV that beat the Rebels; Tom Sanders comes in for the injured Michael Leitch.
The Waratahs sit in first position on the Australian conference with 30 points which includes six wins and five losses from eleven games. The Chiefs have been racking up the points with nine wins and two losses leaving them first in the New Zealand conference with 42 points.
The Chiefs start as 8/13 favourites with the top Australian team priced at 11/8 to take down their kiwi counterparts. This clash could be the game of the weekend with plenty of All Blacks and Wallabies on display for both teams and we can bet that attacking rugby will be the order of the day. Nick Phipps (3/1) has been sensational for the Waratahs this season and we’re backing him to dot down for a five pointer this weekend. Guildford (21/10) was impressive against the Crusaders and why not back him to go over in the corner. For the Chiefs we are backing captain and flanker Sam Cane (13/5) and electric full-back Damian McKenzie (2/1) to do the damage out wide in Sydney this weekend.
On the game as a whole, it’s a case of New Zealand’s best going up against the best that Australia has to offer. The ‘Tahs will be looking to have learned some lessons from their loss to the Crusaders and they have yet to put in that one big showing this year. We predict that performance could come this week and are therefore backing the Waratahs to scrape this one by 1-5 points which you can get at odds of 11/2.
Other Super Rugby predictions:
Blues v Crusaders: Crusaders are a good bet to win on 2/9.
Stormers v Cheetahs: Stormers to win by 13 or more with odds on 5/6.
Bulls v Lions: Lions are favourites at 5/1.
Saracens are bidding to become English champions for the third time, having won the Premiership Final in 2011 and 2015, and been losing finalist in 2010 and 2014 whilst the most recent team to successfully defend their crown were Leicester Tigers in 2010. The European Champions are also shooting for a domestic and European double to emulate Toulouse in 1996, Leicester in 2001 & 2002, Wasps in 2004 and Toulon in 2014.
It would certainly be a safe bet to go with the Allianz Park outfit with odds on 7/5 to successfully defend their title, however Exeter are tipped at a risky 17/1 to win by 13 points or more and 10/3 to edge the defending champions with 1-12 points.
Connacht play in the first major final in their history and achieved their best ever finish in the PRO12. Connacht’s only defeat in their last four matches was 21-22 in Treviso in Round 21. Connacht have won on three of their last four visits to Murrayfield. Leinster are attempting to win the PRO12 title for the fifth time and the first since 2014. The Leinstermen have played in six previous PRO12 finals with a record of won three, lost three, their most recent defeat at this stage being 30-31 to Ospreys at the RDS Arena in 2012. Leinster have won on thee of their last four visits to BT Murrayfield and were also victorious at the venue when beating Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup final in 2009.
The two sides have met on 27 previous occasions in the PRO12 with Leinster having the edge by 20 wins to seven – this is their first ever meeting outside Ireland. Connacht can round off a fairytale season should they pull off a win, and with odds on 12/5 for them to win by less than 12 points and 9/1 for them to win with a greater margin of 13 backing them would be a decent bet.