Super Rugby Pacific has reached Round 6 in 2023. This week throws up some intriguing matches, with the New Zealand derby between the Blues and the Chiefs probably the pick of the bunch.
Here is a look at some of this week’s games with odds from BetXchange.
Reds VS Crusaders – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
It feels like the one-point defeat suffered by the Crusaders at the hands of the Drua in ROund 3 woke this team up. They have won two in a row since, breaking the Blues by six in Auckland and then dominating the then undefeated Brumbies 35-17 in Christchurch last weekend. They are now fifth in the table and rising by the week.
The Reds have been a weird team this season. They were smashed by the ‘Canes before obliterating the Force. Since then, they have lost twice to other Aussie teams, with their 40-34 defeat in Melbourne last weekend being a season low point.
The Crusaders are struggling through injuries to the point that Scottie Barrett has been granted a rest exemption by New Zealand Rugby to line up alongside young Dom Gardener in the second row. This is a team shorn of David Havili, Jack Goodhue, Will Jordan, and Sevu Reese in the backline alone, but their strength in depth is always impressive. I haven’t seen enough from the Reds to be convinced they can cover the 10.5 across the Tasman.
Chiefs VS Blues – FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Hamilton hosts the match of the round as the high-flying Chiefs host last year’s beaten finalists in the Blues. The Chiefs are five from five, with their latest win being a 24-14 triumph over the Waratahs in Sydney. They have also picked up three bonus points and have the second-best points difference in the comp.
The Blues have a couple of defeats on their record – one against the Crusaders that makes sense, one against the Brumbies that does not – but they did get back to winning ways in Round 5 with a 30-17 home victory over the Force. They are fourth on the log and definitely in striking range of the top three.
The Chiefs have loaded up, sending out a forward pack with almost 700 Super Rugby caps. Damian McKenzie continues at fly-half, with Brad Weber a scrum-half and Shaun Stevenson at fullback providing backs of experience. Seeing how No. 13 Daniel Rona copes against the Blues in his third Super Rugby appearance will be interesting.
Patrick Tuipulotu returns for the Blues after missing a couple of matches. Beauden Barrett starts at outside half across from McKenzie in a fascinating clash, while there is power in the back row (Dalton Papalii, Hoskins Sotutu) and on the wins (Caleb Clarke, AJ Lam.)
The Chiefs are riding a wave, but I like the physicality of the Blues to give them real problems here. I would take the away side to cover and potentially steal a money-line win.
Brumbies VS Waratahs – GIO Stadium, Canberra
This one is worth mentioning, as the two teams really don’t like each other. That dislike hasn’t been helped by the Brumbies winning two straight against the ‘Tahs, a streak that the Sydneysiders will be desperate to break on rival soil.
This is the second match between the two already in 2023, with the Brumbies winning 31-25 in Sydney in Round 1. I like this to be close again, with that spread of 9.5 falling in the ‘Tahs favor in a match I expect to be decided by less than one score.