The Super Rugby Finals are here and there are now only eight teams left in contention for the 2018 Super Rugby Championship.
The action gets underway with a genuine blockbuster between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs on Friday and continues until the early hours of Sunday morning when the Jaguares will make their Super Rugby Finals debut when they take on the Lions.
The Waratahs are the only Australian team left in contention and they face a tough assignment against the Highlanders, while the Crusaders host the Sharks in the other game.
We have analysed all four games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2018 Super Rugby Quarter Finals tips can be found below.
Hurricanes Vs Chiefs
Friday 20 July, 5:35pm, Westpac Stadium
The Hurricanes lost a close one last week to this same Chiefs side, setting us up for a huge clash between these two rivals.
That 24-28 loss, a game the Hurricanes were supposed to win against an understrength Chiefs side, will loom large in the minds of the home side this week.
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, they still managed to hang on to the fourth spot on the ladder, but their inability to show any sort of poise during the opening half has to be a concern.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, dominated from the get go, scoring three unanswered tries within the first half hour of the game, jumping out to a comfy lead.
What we’re left with now will no doubt be a close encounter on Friday night, but despite last weeks shortcomings, the Hurricanes still hold the edge in the market.
The Hurricanes have won just two of their last five against the Chiefs, but hold an impressive 8-0 record as the home favourites.
Chris Boyd’s side will also hold their heads high following last week’s efforts in the second half. The Hurricanes fought all the way back to be within striking distance of the win, while also dominating the possession count.
For the Chiefs, the unfortunate number for the Hamilton based side is three. That’s the number of wins they’ve notched over the Hurricanes in their last 10 trips to Wellington, and things won’t get any easier with the suspension of Johnny Fa’auli.
The Chiefs are the in-form side here, while the Hurricanes have won just one of their last five. Still, the home ground advantage counts for so much here, making the Hurricanes the safer bet.
Back the Hurricanes 1-12 @ $2.50
Crusaders Vs Sharks
Saturday 21 July, 5:35pm, AMI Stadium
There’s no stopping the Crusaders, and on the heels of a 54-17 victory over the Blues to end the regular season last week, the Christchurch based side are the scariest in the competition.
The Sharks also enter this one following a 20-10 win over the Jaguares, a victory that secured a finals spot for the Durban based club. The Sharks’ 3-1 record against New Zealand sides this season sure is impressive, but when you consider everything that goes against them ahead of Saturday night, it’s not hard to understand why the Sharks are at such long odds.
Impressively, the Crusaders have never lost a home playoff game in their 22-year history, and to make matters worse for the rest of the competition, the Crusaders also enter the finals on a 12-game unbeaten run.
Since the Crusaders are the outright favourites this season, the Sharks won’t find any solace in the fact that their last meeting with the Crusaders in the playoffs resulted in a 38-6 loss.
Stranger things have happened, but a Sharks win on Saturday seems pretty close to impossible. They haven’t played the Crusaders at all this season, and as we all know, the Crusaders in the playoffs are a team no one wants to face.
This one has the makings of a blowout, and after the Sharks only just managed to sneak into the finals, it’s doubtful they are up to this test.
Back the Crusaders to Beat The Line (-20.5 Points) @ $1.91
Waratahs Vs Highlanders
Saturday 21 July, 8:05pm, Allianz Stadium
A 31-40 loss to the Brumbies last week wasn’t what the Waratahs had planned entering the finals.
On the flip side, the Highlanders held on for a narrow six-point win over the Rebels in New Zealand. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it ensured the Dunedin based club kept extended their home record to 7-0 on the year.
With a trip to NSW ahead, the Highlanders will feel pretty confident going into this one. It was a while ago now, but the last time the Waratahs hosted the Highlanders in the playoffs, it was the Highlanders who walked away with a 35-17 victory on the road.
This is, of course, a different Waratahs team however, one that the Highlanders are more than familiar with. These two last played back in Round 14, a game the Waratahs won in Sydney 41-12.
As the home underdog, the Waratahs hold a 1-0 record against the Highlanders, while the Highlanders 3-2 record as the away favourite is less than convincing.
The Highlanders have been particularly spotty in away games this season, showing an inability to score points on the road. This should turn out to be a high scoring game though, and if you are feeling adventurous, there’s some big odds available on the Waratahs to make this a blowout.
Back the Waratahs 13+ @ $8.00
Lions Vs Jaguares
Sunday 22 July, 1:05am, Emirates Airline Park
These two enter the playoffs at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Lions were nothing short of impressive last week during their 38-12 win over the Bulls, but what do we make of the Jaguares now? A 10-20 loss to the Sharks hardly has the Argentinian side looking like the team we once thought they were.
After winning seven games in a row earlier in the season, everyone thought this might just be the year the Jaguares challenge. That could still happen, but it will take a lot to stop the Lions’ relentless forward pack this week.
The Lions dominated just about every offensive category last week, but by far the biggest takeaway from last week’s victory was the Lions’ aerial attack.
Head-to-head, the Jaguares have won three of their last five, but their 4-4 record as the away underdog is less than convincing.
For punters, the fact that all six meetings between these two sides have been decided by the home team is telling. The Jaguares do hold a 4-0 record again South African sides this season, but you have to consider the form of these two clubs, something that doesn’t favour the Argentinians.
Back the Lions to Beat The Line (-10.5 Points) @ $1.91
The 2017 Super Rugby season has been completed and it is fair to say that it has been one to forget for Australian Rugby fans.
The Brumbies finished in tenth position on the overall Super Rugby ladder, but the format of the competition means that there must be at least one Australian team in the Super Rugby Finals and the Brumbies were the Australian side that were least bad.
There are a number of big games in the opening weekend of the 2017 Super Rugby Finals and we are confident that we can take our stellar regular season tipping form into the finals.
Brumbies Vs Hurricanes
Friday 21 July, 7:45pm, GIO Stadium
The Brumbies may have qualified for the Super Rugby Finals, but their stay is unlikely to last long.
The Hurricanes will go into this clash as clear favourites and it is easy to see why.
No Australian team has beaten a New Zealand side this season and there is nothing to suggest that will change this weekend.
The Hurricanes have won five of their past six games as away favourites, while the Brumbies have lost and failed to cover the line in their four games as home underdogs this season.
This is a game that the Hurricanes should win very comfortably and there is very little chance that the line of 10.5 points will be anywhere near enough.
Back The Hurricanes To Win (-10.5 Points)
Crusaders Vs Highlanders
Saturday 22 July, 5:35pm, AMI Stadium
The Crusaders suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, but they will still go into this clash with the Highlanders as clear favourites.
The Crusaders have been nothing short of dominant during the Super Rugby season and they have been one of the best betting sides in the entire competition.
They have won their past seven games as home favourites and they are 5-2 against the line in this scenario.
The Highlanders are a side that generally get the job done as favourites, but they don’t have a great record as underdogs.
They have won just one of their past four games as away underdogs and they are 2-2 against the line in this scenario.
The Crusaders can continue on their winning ways and cover the line of 6.5 points in the process.
Back The Crusaders To Beat The Line (-6.5 Points)
Lions Vs Sharks
Saturday 22 July, 10:30pm, Emirates Airlines Park
The Lions have been clearly the best South African side in Super Rugby this season and they are dominant favourites to account for the Sharks.
The Lions have lost only one game this season and they went into the Super Rugby Finals on the back of a comfortable win over the Sharks themselves.
They have won their past nine games as home favourites and they are an impressive 7-2 against the line.
The Sharks were no match for the Lions last weekend and it would take a big reversal of form for them to be any chance whatsoever this weekend.
While the Sharks have won two of their past five games as away underdogs, they have lost their past five games to the Lions and have been no match for their rivals in recent seasons.
This is a game that the Lions should win comfortably, but there is no value at their current price.
Stormers Vs Chiefs
Sunday 24 July, 3:00am, DHL Newlands
The Stormers have the home-ground advantage, but it is the Chiefs that will go into this clash as narrow favourites.
Winning away from home has not been an issue for the Chiefs this season, but they have been tough to trust from a betting standpoint on the road.
The Chiefs have are 3-1-1 as away favourites, but they have failed to cover the line in their past five games in this scenario.
The Stormers went into the Super Rugby finals on the back of three straight wins and they will take confidence from the fact that they beat the Chiefs earlier this season.
Their record at DHL Newlands is excellent and they have won their past two games as away underdogs for a clear profit.
The Stormers are more than capable of producing an upset this weekend and they are great value at their current price.
Back The Stormers To Win @ $2.20
The Super Rugby regular season is in the books and we are now set for the finals, which for the first time ever will include eight teams.
There is no second chances from this point forward and any side that suffers a defeat will be eliminated for the competition – even if they finished on top of their Conference.
That means that there is a great deal to play for and we are expecting four outstanding games of rugby this weekend!
Brumbies Vs Highlanders
Friday 22 July, 6:00pm, GIO Stadium
This is a very interesting game as the Brumbies have the home-ground advantage, but it is the Highlanders that will start this game as clear favourites.
The Highlanders have not lost a game since the competition returned from the mid season break and they were particularly impressive against the Chiefs last weekend.
The worry for the Highlanders is that their record away from home this season has not been particularly strong – they have won only three of their six games as away favourites and they have the same record against the line.
The Brumbies secured their position on top of the Australian Conference with a victory over the Force last weekend, but it is fair to say that they still didn’t play the best rugby.
This is a unique position for the Brumbies as they have not started a home game as underdogs this season, but they have won six of their past eight games at home as well as their past three games against the Highlanders in front of their home fans.
The Highlanders are definitely the team to beat, but the Brumbies have a much better chance than their odds suggest and they are a good bet to score an upset win at their current price.
Recommended Bet: Back The Brumbies To Win @ $2.50
Hurricanes Vs Sharks
Saturday 23 July, 5:35pm, Westpac Stadium
The Hurricanes secured the minor premiership with an impressive victory over the Crusaders last weekend and they are dominant favourites to progress to the Super Rugby Semi-Finals with a win over the Sharks.
The Hurricanes have now won five games on the trot and they improved their overall record as home favourites to 5-1, but their record against the line in this situation is a far from convincing 2-4.
The Sharks head into the Super Rugby finals on the back of two lacklustre wins over the Cheetahs and the Sunwolves, but they have still managed to win five out of their past six fixtures.
The South African franchise actually have a very strong record as away underdogs – they have won three of their past six games in this situation and they are 5-1 against the line over the same period.
There is no doubt that the Hurricanes are the team to beat, but this game should be closer than the betting suggests and the Sharks are more than capable of covering the line of 12.5 points.
Recommended Bet: Back The Sharks To Beat The Line (+12.5 Points)
Lions Vs Crusaders
Sunday 24 July, 12:30am, Emirates Airlines Park
This is likely to be the most hotly-contested of the four quarter-finals and the market suggests just as much.
The Lions gave up the opportunity to claim the minor premiership when they sent their b-team to Argentina and lost to the Jaguares, but they will still go into this clash with the Crusaders as narrow favourites.
The Lions have been nothing but outstanding from a betting perspective this season and they have won all six of their games as home favourites, while failing to beat the line just once.
The Crusaders head into the Super Rugby finals on the back of a forgettable performance against the Hurricanes and they will need to produce an improved performance to beat the Lions in the early hours of Sunday morning.
In saying that, there is plenty to like about the record of the Crusaders this season and they have actually won two of their three games as away underdogs for a healthy profit.
This is set to be an outstanding game of football, but the market looks to have priced both these teams just about right and I am happy to stay out from a betting perspective.
Recommended Bet: No Bet
Stormers Vs Chiefs
Sunday 24 July, 3:00am, DHL Newlands
This is another Super Rugby quarter-final where the home team will start as clear underdogs.
The Stormers finished on top of their conference to earn a home final and they have thrown under the radar in the lead-up to the finals, but they have lost just two of their past eight games.
They have not played many games as home underdogs, but they did win their only previous game in this scenario and they have lost just two games in front of their home fans this season.
The Chiefs received a reality check when they suffered a 25-15 loss to the Highlanders last weekend, but their was still a lot to like about their performance and their record away from home is fairly strong.
They are 6-2 on the road this season and they have won two of their past three games at DHL Newlands.
The Chiefs look to have a clear edge over the Stormers and they can overcome the lengthy trip to South Africa to record a comfortable victory.
Recommended Bet: Back The Chiefs To Beat The Line (-3.5 Points)