It is that time of the week again when 'Orrible Punt sits down in the Planet Rugby hot-seat to give you his calls. We give you some Super Rugby.
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Jake White's side have won 34/39 home games against South African sides and 7/8 against the Bulls by an average score of 36-20. They may have lost last week but will feel they pushed the Stormers in the second-half and that is definitely a period of the game they dominate at home, only conceding twelve points combined in their last six games there. They are returning from tour, so there will always be questions of fatigue. The Bulls themselves end their four-match trip and interestingly have lost the final away game in such circumstances every season. They've conceded an average of sixteen points in the second-half this term and been outscored then in six of their last seven away games by an average of five - enough evidence for me to take the Brumbies -4 on the second-half handicap.
Before last week, the Cheetahs hadn't ever won three away games in a season before, much less in a row. The last time they won four consecutive matches was 2011, with the fourth being at home to the Rebels. They have beaten the Melbourne side on both previous encounters by an average score of 37-24 and won their last five home games against Australian opposition by an average of 34-24. The hosts have scored first and the Rebels conceded first in every match so far, so the 1.57 for that to occur again may prove popular. The visitors have been outscored heavily second-half in the last four games by an average of 20 points. They've lost 16/18 away games, only beating the Force and their average score outside of Australia is 18-45. The Rebels have also trailed at half-time in all five games in SA, by at least fourteen points. I will back Willie le Roux, (everybody loves Raymond) Rhule and the gang to pile on more misery on the visitors and take Cheetahs -7 on the second-half handicap. There have been eight cards in five Rebels games this season, which is high by Super Rugby standards and suggests looking out for an away card may prove lucrative.
The Crusaders have an excellent record against the Stormers, winning ten of the last twelve games and 5/7 matches played in South Africa by 29-19. However looking at their last 22 matches, they've had at least one of the influential trio Kieran Read, Dan Carter or Richie McCaw on the pitch, for all but 55 minutes. They did beat the Stormers last season with Tom Taylor at fly-half, but he had the reassurance of Carter alongside him at centre and Read at eight. The hosts have beaten in-form teams Chiefs and Brumbies at home, scoring 71 points in the process. The last time they scored over 30+ points in three consecutive games was 1998 but they've only scored that amount in 3/18 matches against this opposition. I'm not sure if they will manage that many this weekend, but will be happy to take -4 on the handicap and will be looking to take on the visitors on all their away legs this season. For anytime try scorers, Gio Aplon at 2.88 and Israel Dagg at 4.0 are both reasonable prices.
The Waratahs may have won 6/9 games against the Force but five of those victories have occurred in the away fixture. They've won just one of the four home games by an average score of 18-17. The Force have led at half-time in four of their five matches so far and been outscored after the break in the same number. The 'Tahs have trailed at the break in 4/5 games and scored more than their opposition in 3/5 second-halves. It's a reversal of last season's trends for both sides but may point towards backing the Force HT / Waratahs FT at a tasty 7.5. However, I do think that a motivated Michael Foley is going to have his side fired up for this game and the 5.5 for a win, +5 on HT handicap and +10 on the main handicap are generous and where the value can be found. It's tended to be a low scoring fixture and giving the visitors a ten-point head start would have been covered in 7/9 games against the Waratahs and in 15/18 games against all Australian rivals going back to 2011.