Former Reds and Wallabies forward Mark Connors previews Round 8 of Super Rugby.
TattsBet Super Rugby Round 8 Preview
Highlanders v Rebels
Friday 4/4/14 @ 16:35
The Highlanders will be glad to be back home after a lacklustre display last week, while the Rebels will be keen to show their win against the Brumbies wasn’t a fluke. This could go either way with both teams being erratic week to week. With the Highlanders short priced favourites, I’d be taking the 6 or 7 point start for the Rebels which will pay better odds.
My pick: I expect the Highlanders to win... just... (but Rebels with the points start is better value)
Brumbies v Blues
Friday 4/4/14 @ 18:40
The Brumbies looked tired last week, while the Blues gave the impression they are on the up heading to the top of the NZ conference. With Bryn Hall looking sharp at 9 (replacing Piri Weepu) and Nonu & Kaino showing signs of getting back into top form, I expect the Blues to really test the Brumbies at home this week. The odds really flatter the Brumbies too much, as I expect this will be a very tough contest. I will again lean the way of the home side, but the points start for the Blues (>5.5 or more) would be interesting.
My pick: Brumbies to narrowly win (or points start for the Blues if >5.5)
Hurricanes v Bulls
Saturday 5/4/14 @ 16:35
The Canes will be buzzing after a better effort last start, but we’ve seen them typically good one week and shocking the next! The Bulls have the tough travel schedule to deal with and will be seething after giving away the game (for a draw) against the Chiefs last round. They also welcome back their captain and Springbok Flip van der Merwe from injury. He'll bolster their powerful forward pack.
My pick: Bulls forwards to grind them a win (or take the Bulls @ +4.5 points start)
Reds v Force
Saturday 5/4/14 @ 18:40
The Force have been the Reds bogey side in recent years and the history between the two teams suggests a physical and intense contest. With injuries affecting both sides, this will be a real danger game for the Reds, who are expected to win. The Reds forwards need to step up to win the battle at the breakdown to be any chance and the early odds again overly flatter the home side.
My pick: Reds to win narrowly (but punters may prefer >5 point start the Force)
Cheetahs v Chiefs
Saturday 5/4/14 @ 23:00
The Chiefs fought back impressively last week against an in-form and physical Bulls side. The Cheetahs will be fresh after a week off, so they'll be hoping the Chiefs are physically drained and out on their feet. Whether or not that’s the case, I still expect the Chiefs to be too classy and have enough in the tank to win.
My pick: Chiefs to win
Lions v Crusaders
Sunday 6/4/14 @ 01:05
The Lions come off a bye and will be refreshed and up against a struggling Crusaders outfit with a few injury concerns. Recent form shouldn’t have the Crusaders as short priced favourites (in my view) and I expect the Lions will surprise the men from New Zealand.
My pick: Lions to win (but take the Lions with >+4 points start for extra protection)
Stormers v Waratahs
Sunday 6/4/14 @ 03:10
The Waratahs will be putting out the welcome mat for Israel Folau for this clash against the lowly-placed Stormers. While their efforts against the Sharks last week couldn’t be questioned, they struggled to penetrate the Sharks' defence, crossing the line for only one late try. With the Stormers travelling back from Australia and having a few injury concerns, I am going to lean the way of the Tahs, though they will need Izzy at his best.
My pick: Waratahs to win
Mark Connors, former Reds and Wallabies forward
Click here to bet on Super Rugby Round 8 matches