Matches this weekend are as follows. All prices are from William Hill.
Friday 8.35 am BST Hurricanes v Chiefs
The Hurricanes won a dramatic victory over the Sharks in Napier last weekend, scoring with the last playoff the game to clinch a 38-37 victory, still a long way short of covering the handicap. This was the Hurricanes’ fifth victory in six games and they are in second in the New Zealand Conference, behind the Crusaders, who have played a game more. The Chiefs also have a played six, won five and are in third place in the conference and last week beat the Blues 21-19, again a closer game than many expected. Here the Hurricanes are -10 at 10/11 on the points handicap. I think this spread looks too high for a game between two of the top teams in the tournament. The Chiefs +10 for me.
Saturday 4.05 am BST Sunwolves v Blues
Japan’s Sunwolves remain winless after six games after losing 29-50 at home to the Waratahs last weekend. Here they face the New Zealand franchise with the worst record so far this season. The Blues followed up their surprise 63-40 loss to the Sharks at home by getting within two points of beating the Chiefs last weekend, but their current record is one win from six games. Of course, this is a prime opportunity to put another win on the board and they are 20-point handicap favourites to win. Not a game I will bet on, taking a one-win side to cover by three scores.
Saturday 6.15 am BST Rebels v Los Jaguares
The Rebels top the Australian Conference with four wins from their six games and host the Jaguares with two wins from their seven games. Last week the Rebels were on a bye week while the Jaguares unsurprisingly lost to the Crusaders, 40-14. Here the Rebels are -11 at 10/11 and should be supported to cover the handicap.
Saturday 8.35 am Highlanders v Brumbies
The Highlanders are coming off a bye week and before that lost 27-22 at the Chiefs. They are 4th of 5 in the New Zealand Conference with three wins in their five games. The Brumbies started the season slowly but are back to a 3-3 record after beating the Reds 45-21 last week. The Highlanders are 15-point favourites here. Its marginal at 10/1, but I feel they are more likely to cover than not.
Saturday 10.45am Waratahs v Reds
The Waratahs are in second place in the Australian conference after their win in Japan last week. They now have four wins and a draw from their six games and host the Queensland Reds, who lost 45-21 to the Brumbies last week. They are 4th of 5 in the Australian conference with three wins and three defeats and are 9-point underdogs on the point handicap. The Reds are highly likely to cover at 10/11.
Saturday 4.15 pm Sharks v Bulls
In the weakest of the three conferences the Sharks are in second place having only won 2 of their 7 games and host the Bulls, who have two wins from six games. At home the Sharks, who achieved a notable result in Auckland a fortnight ago, are -5 to beat the side from Pretoria and I expect them to cover at 10/11.