Round 4 of Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off on Saturday with the undefeated Crusaders traveling to take on the Highlanders. In the second game of the weekend, the Chiefs look to get their season on track as they host the Hurricanes.
Here is a look at the two contests in Round 3 that each has a heavy favorite per the odds at BetXChange.
Highlanders vs. Crusaders
Saturday, July 4 – Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
The South Island derby is must-see TV on Saturday as the Highlanders look to knock the Crusaders down a peg or two at Forsyth Barr Stadium. The Highlanders were unlucky to come up short against the Blues last time out, while the Crusaders took care of the Chiefs in typical fashion.
The big team news is that the Highlanders will turn to yet another player in the fullback jersey to try to replace the legendary Ben Smith. Scott Gregory was about as bad as you can be against the Blues and you hope the youngster can find a way to recover. Instead, the Highlanders will play the versatile Otago back Michael Collins in the No. 15 jersey this time out. Other changes include Ngane Punivai starting on the wing after Sam Gilbert tore his ACL against the Blues.
The Crusaders have made five changes to their winning team with the most significant being David Havili regaining his place at fullback. This means that the exciting Will Jordan – arguably the best player on the park against the Chiefs – will be moving to the wing. Tom Christie and Ethan Blackadder both start in the pack.
The Highlanders haven’t looked bad – other than some serious issues at fullback – but it is impossible to pick against the Crusaders machine. Expect them to win here by 6-10 (4.75) or 11-15 (4.75) at BetXChange to set up an almightly clash with the Blues next weekend.
Chiefs vs. Hurricanes
Sunday, July 5 – FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
The Chiefs take on the Hurricanes in Hamilton, a venue where they have won nine, lost 6, and drawn two of the 17 matches the two teams have played since the dawn of Super Rugby. This includes a streak of five wins in a row at home for the Chiefs since 2014.
Sam Cane was huge for the Chiefs in their defeat against the Crusaders, with the skipper giving the team a big lift in his first game back post-lockdown. Look for Cane and Lachlan Boshier – along with the influential Aaron Cruden – to be important players in this one.
The Hurricanes could welcome back Jordie Barrett for his first game in Super Rugby Aotearoa. Barrett will be an important addition when he returns from his shoulder injury as he is one of those players that can impact a game in a number of different ways. The Hurricanes simply haven’t looked the same without his presence on the pitch.
The Chiefs have looked better in general than a Hurricanes team that has not come out of the blocks at all yet this campaign. Add in the home advantage and it is hard to bet against the Chiefs here. Take them to win by 11-15 (4.50) or 16-20 (7.00) with BetXChange.