It is time for Round 9 of Super Rugby Pacific. We are over halfway through the season and the battle for the eight playoff spots is heating up.
Here is a look at the matches.
Crusaders VS Blues – Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns for this huge clash that was postponed from an earlier round. The Blues are level on points with the Crusaders – they each have 27 points from seven games – and with the Brumbies idle this round a bonus-point win would take either to the top of the log.
The Crusaders are 4.5 favorites here and you can only assume that is because of their home advantage in Christchurch. They snuck a win 24-21 over the ‘Canes last time out while the Blues were smashing the Chiefs 25-0 on the road. Take the Blues +4.5 here and don’t be shocked if they win straight up at 16/10 with BetXchange.
Rebels VS Reds – AAMI Park, Melbourne
- Rebels – 29/10
- Reds – 3/10
- Draw -25/1
The Rebels really kept their season alive in terms of any type of playoff push with their thrilling 22-21 win over the Western Force on the road last time out. They are still outside of the playoff places as things stand, but the four points from that win leaves them on 10 points, just three adrift of the Force and six behind the ‘Canes.
The Red – in contrast – are flying. They are fourth on the log with 26 points from eight games and a bonus-point win (with a large enough victory margin) would see them leapfrog the Brumbies. The Reds have a crisis at hooker so deep that they sent out an SOS message to 39-year-old Stephen Moore who will be available as the 24th man this weekend. Even so, they will have too much for the Rebels and cover at -8.5 with BetXchange.
Chiefs VS Moana Pasifika – FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
- Chiefs – Off The Board
- Moana Pasifika – 11/1
- Draw – 36/1
This is more interesting than it looks on paper. The Chiefs were held scoreless last time out, yet they are 27.5-point favorites over a Moana Pasifika squad rooted to the bottom of the log. They are without a total of six All Blacks entirely – the likes of Brodie Retallick, Anton Lienart-Brown, and Sam Cane – while Brad Weber will play off of the bench. Even so, the Chiefs won 59-12 in the reverse fixture four weeks ago with a Covid hit side and they should be more than good enough to cover here.
Highlanders VS Hurricanes – Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
- Highlanders – 12/10
- Hurricanes – 13/20
- Draw – 25/1
The Highlanders finally picked up their first win of 2022 last time out as they downed the hapless Moana Pasifika 37-17. The ‘Canes, meanwhile, lost a heartbreaker by three at home to the Crusaders.
The away side had a rare Tuesday match this week as they took their turn to thump Moana Pasifika 53-12. All their stars return for this trip to Dunedin as there are eight changes from that side including returns for stars like Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, and Jackson Garden-Bachop. The Highlanders suffered a major blow with the news that All Blacks flanker – and insane workhorse – Shannon Frizell will be lost for at least eight weeks with a knee injury.