Planet Rugby

This weekend's predictions!

16th May 2014 10:03

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RUGBY RUGBY UNION NEMANI NADOLO

Crusaders: Looking good

It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's predictions from both hemispheres.

It's play-off time! Semi-finals in the Premiership, Top 14 and PRO12 make for a bumper weekend of Northern Hemisphere rugby.

There's a huge grudge match at Franklin's Gardens on Friday as Northampton Saints welcome title rivals Leicester Tigers, Munster's Red Army crosses the Irish Sea in pursuit of Scotstoun success, while Europe's galacticos, Toulon and Racing Métro go head-to-head in Lille.

South of the Equator, Super Rugby is really hotting up. The Reds host the Rebels knowing nothing short of a win will do, and the in-form Crusaders tackle Jake White's disciplined Sharks in Christchurch.

The big games come thick and fast over the next two days; and so do the opportunties for rugby betting!

Let's get started.

Premiership

Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers: The mother of all derbies, a rematch of last season's Final, takes place in the East Midlands on Friday. Dylan Hartley, who was red-carded in that decider, misses out for the hosts, but so too do Geoff Parling and Anthony Allen.

We see this being a desperately tight affair, with a lot of three-pointers and not too many tries. A handicap of -3 for Saints pays reasonably well at 10/11 with Paddy Power, but it's the option of a 1-5 winning margin for Jim Mallinder's men that we favour at 7/2.

It is the visitors' Niki Goneva we like best in the try-scorer markets, however, with the prolific Fijian on fire just now and well worth a punt with his 8/1 tag. All the more so given Paddy Power are refunding losing first scorer bets if it's a forward who dots down first.

If he is to score, it may well be the only try of the game, with the boots of Stephen Myler and Toby Flood likely to prove decisive. It's a big test of Saints' mental toughness, but we think it's one they'll pass. Saints by five!

SuperBruPremiership predictions:

Saracens v Harlequins: Sarries have too much in their arsenal for a brave Quins side. Sarries by 12!

PRO12

Glasgow v Munster: The hosts are the form team in this league, winning their last eight, but it would be foolish to write off a Munster side who know just what it takes to win games like this one.

Paddy Power has Glasgow as narrow favourites, and we agree, citing the 1-5 winning margin at 10/3 as your best bet.

Tommy Seymour is your best option in terms of a first try-scorer at 10/1, but don't afraid to take a punt on Munster flanker CJ Stander dotting down first - he's rated a very tempting 18/1.

Over the piece, we do think the hosts will continue their fine run of results with another win, but it will be an incredibly hard-fought battle. Glasgow by 4!

SuperBru Pro12 predictions:

Leinster v Ulster: The champions will stay the course; Leinster by 7!

Top 14

Toulon v Racing Métro: To label this a star-studded encounter would scarcely do it justice. Jonny Wilkinson, Jonathan Sexton, Steffon Armitage, Mike Phillips, Matt Giteau, Jamie Roberts - it's a sensational lineup.

The hosts' blend of power, pace and panache makes them favourites, and as this is French rugby, the home side are traditionally expected to win.

We see Toulon overwhelming their guests from the capital in similar style to the way they proved too much for Leinster in the Heineken Cup; a winning margin of 11-15 at 6/1 is a good option, and we like Drew Mitchell's 17/2 tag to score the game's first try.

For us, Bernard Laporte's boys will keep their Top 14-Heineken Cup double bid on track, and win by about 14 points!

Super Rugby

Crusaders v Sharks: The game of the weekend, yes, the most entertaining fare on offer? Probably not. The Sharks have often struggled when their simple, robotic yet effective Jake White game-plan has gone to pot, and that should be the case in Christchurch with the Crusaders really hitting their stride in attack.

We'd go as far to back an 11-15 winning margin at 5/1, with the hulking Nemani Nadolo a great option for first try-scorer with a 7/1 price tag.

For us, the signs are ominous for the Sharks this weekend; Crusaders by 12!

Superbru Super Rugby predictions:

Reds v Rebels: The Reds will labour their way to victory. Reds by 10!
Stormers v Force: It won't be easy but the Force will win by three points!
Cheetahs v Brumbies: Brumbies to win a high-scoring affair by two points!
Waratahs v Lions: Tahs to ease home by 15 points!

Good luck!

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