Planet Rugby

This weekend's predictions!

14th February 2014 08:46


Chiefs begin on pitch celebrations with Super Rugby trophy

Three in a row: Chiefs

It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block, and bring you Planet Rugby's predictions.

The Six Nations takes a break this weekend, but we scarcely pause for breath as a full card of Premiership, Pro12 and Top 14 fixtures are plenty to keep us occupied.

Add to that the start of the Super Rugby season and we're bulging with top class rugby.

With so many games on the go, there is money up for grabs, and we recommend you head down to Paddy Power to get your bets on.

Let's get started.

Aviva Premiership

Sale Sharks v Saracens: Saracens will be itching to bounce back from last week's shock defeat at London Irish, though the Sharks will not be welcoming hosts either. Backing the visitors to triumph by 1-12 should be fruitful at 6/5 with Paddy Power. Many felt David Strettle was unlucky to miss out on England involvement with the Six Nations, but backing the in-form winger to score first is an attractive bet at 17/2. We don't expect this to be an easy game for Sarries by any means, but this week we do expect them to emerge on the right side of the scoreline, and by about 7 points.

Other SuperBru Aviva Premiership Predictions:

Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons: Quins by 9
London Wasps v London Irish: Wasps by 6
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors: Saints by 15
Exeter Chiefs v Bath: Bath by 4
Leicester Tigers v Gloucester: Tigers by 6


Ulster v Scarlets: Ulster are huge favourites for this one, and rightly so; their only home defeat this season came at the hands of Glasgow early on in the season. They laboured their way past the Ospreys, but should not run into trouble against the Scarlets' exciting but inexperienced lineup. A home win by 1-12 pays out at 8/5, while 13 or more gives back 4/6. More specifically, 11-15 at 4/1 looks to be the best option. Craig Gilroy is fit and firing, and Jared Payne reverts to his more effective role at 15, but we'd highlight centre Luke Marshall for a first try-scorer punt - he is priced at 12/1 alongside Kiwi number eight Nick Williams. We don't see Ulster running into any problems on Friday, with a likely winning margin of 12 points.

Other SuperBru Pro12 Predictions:

Leinster v Dragons: Leinster by 14
Connacht v Edinburgh: Edinburgh by 6
Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors: Warriors by 4
Munster v Zebre: Munster by 17
Ospreys v Treviso: Ospreys by 13

Top 14

Toulon v Castres: The European champions take on the league title holders, in fifth and third place respectively, in France this weekend. As is traditionally the case in French rugby, the hosts are comfortable favourites, with a handicap of -12 for Bernard Laporte's men paying out at 10/11 - although Laporte will not be present due to his 13-week ban. Indeed, backing the first points to be logged via a Toulon try is priced at 4/1, with a Toulon penalty at 6/4. Our tip is to stick a few bucks on the home side to win by 11-20 points at 11/5, with a likely winning margin of 14 points.

Super Rugby returns to our screens this week and it's two South African derbies to start as the remaining 11 teams continue their preparations.

2014 promises so much and we're sure, like us, you can't wait for the action to kick-off, with the Chiefs gunning for three successive titles.

Many franchises have recruited well while some were happy to stick with what they had or even look to the future and let their older heads go.

In this preview, we look at the overall winner, conference betting, top try scorer and a few other markets that had us eager to make a punt.

We'll also look at the games taking place in Bloemfontein and Durban so if you're looking to make some money, Paddy Power is the place to go.

Super Rugby

Champions: Three in row. It may seem boring but we don't feel title rivals possess the quality at Dave Rennie's disposal as the Chiefs should prevail once again. Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, Tom Marshall, Mils Muliaina; the list goes on in terms of a group that many head coaches would walk on hot coals for, and in a long season such as this such depth is imperative. Chiefs to win it at 4/1.

Australian Conference: Possibly the most open we've seen things in Australia for a good few years, the Brumbies, Reds and Waratahs are set to battle it out to finish top of their conference. The Brumbies are arguably stronger than last year in terms of playing personnel with David Pocock back from injury, but they lose head coach Jake White, who walked out on his adopted country and eventually signed at the Sharks.

The Reds look very slick in pre-season and have a man in real form directing matters from fly-half in Quade Cooper. The question mark about Richard Graham's side though is if they have the players outside Will Genia and Cooper who will step up for the former Super Rugby champions.

Finally the Waratahs, who have running threats in Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Alofa Alofa and also Michael Hooper. However, after being built up year after year, one wonders if they will be consistent enough to claim this conference. Our prediction is: 1 Brumbies, 2 Waratahs, 3 Reds.

New Zealand Conference: We've already mentioned the Chiefs' playing depth and they will be eager to do what no other franchise has done in Super Rugby history and win three on the bounce. Of the players not discussed earlier, Tim Nanai-Williams and Ben Tameifuna will be threats.

Todd Blackadder has to manage his All Blacks and won't have a vital one for the season as fly-half Dan Carter takes his time off ahead of next year's World Cup. Losing Tom Marshall is a blow to their cause but Israel Dagg, Nemani Nadolo and their rugged pack will put them in the mix.

Meanwhile, the Blues and Hurricanes are the dark horses, with Benji Marshall, Jerome Kaino and Charlie Piutau in Auckland, and Beauden Barrett, Ardie and Julian Savea and also Cory Jane in Wellington, set to thrill us in 2014. Our prediction is: 1 Chiefs, 2 Crusaders, 3 Blues.

South Africa Conference: It's a similar situation to New Zealand in the South African conference as two favourites with the bookies are followed up by the rest. The Sharks, rightly or wrongly, seem to have had a mountain of build-up and expectation surrounding them because of a nice draw and impressive pack. Let us remember though this same squad finished eighth last season. Week One against the Bulls will show their hand.

The Stormers also possess a strong forward unit that is boosted by Schalk Burger's return which means Rynhardt Elstadt shifts to lock to cover for the injured Eben Etzebeth. Their defence is one of the best in world rugby but the problem in Cape Town is their attack, which needs work.

Elsewhere, the Cheetahs have Johan Goosen back but lose Robert Ebersohn which is a big blow. Adriaan Strauss will as ever be key to their pack while the back-row is also underrated. The Bulls aren't in as bad shape as many believe as while they've lost Morne Steyn and others, there is decent quality coming through their ranks from South Africa's U20 side and also former Kings stars. Prediction: 1 Sharks, 2 Stormers, 3 Bulls.

Top try-scorer: Last year it was Blues finisher Frank Halai who topped the chart with ten tries and he'll be there or thereabouts again this time around with team-mate George Moala a decent outside bet. Israel Folau is the bookies favourite at 8/1 with Paddy Power while there's Nemani Nadolo from the Crusaders at 16/1, Asaeli Tikoirotuma at 33s and a decent each-way punt on Lions flanker Derick Minnie (80/1) is tasty.

This week's games: Cheetahs and Sharks to win against the Lions and Bulls respectively pays 1.68.

Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
3Leicester Tigers1963