CAPE TOWN - Experience has taught me to avoid those matches in which teams have already qualified for playoffs. This season has also been a lesson to think twice when teams have to adhere to the World Cup national team rotation policy.
Ordinarily, I’d have no hesitation in picking the Waratahs to beat a 19-point handicap against the Highlanders in Dunedin. But this is a red flag game for the punter and my advice is to stay away from it.
The Waratahs have rested five of their most influential Wallabies, including captain Michael Hooper and Kurtley Beale. It makes the Highlanders heavy favourites, but it is debatable if 20 points is being too generous to the Highlanders, who have been incredibly inconsistent this season. I am picking the Highlanders to win by 15 on my Superbru, but I won’t be putting money there.
Another red flag is the Jaguares’ home match against the Sunwolves. The visitors to Buenos Aires have taken some big poundings this season and the hosts have been impressive at home. The caution here is the Jaguares have already secured a playoff in winning the South African conference and their minds may be on next weekend’s playoffs.
Stay away, if you’re smart. My money is going towards the two SA derbies, a Kiwi derby and one trans-Tasman match-up.
I have R1000 on the Chiefs to beat the Rebels by two of more. The spread here surprises me because the Chiefs put 40 points past the Crusaders in Suva and a week later the Rebels couldn’t score a point in conceding 66 against the Saders. I don’t think the two teams are evenly matched and the Chiefs, indifferent at home, have travelled well this season. They won in Pretoria and Buenos Aires and they will win in Melbourne.
The Hurricanes are back in Wellington after a very good tour of SA. They were comfortable winners against the Sharks and Lions and I am putting R2000 down on them to beat the Blues by two or more. The Blues’ away form is seldom good and the Canes will finish the regular season with a burst. My R2000 investment will get me back R3800.
The SA derbies should favour the home teams. I also don’t believe the spreads will be as close as the bookies have them. I fancy the Stormers when they play at home and the Sharks are ravaged by injury and low on confidence after successive defeats against the Canes and Jaguares. I am putting down R2000 to win back R3800 on the Stormers to win by three or more points.
I am also putting down R2000 to win back R3800 on the Bulls beating the Lions by five or more.
Spreads on www.sunbet.co.za
HIGHLANDERS vs WARATAHS (Today, 9.35am)
Waratahs plus 19 points
REBELS vs CHIEFS (Today, 11.45am)
Rebels plus 1.5 points
JAGUARES vs SUNWOLVES (Tomorrow, 00.10am)
Sunwolves plus 20.5 points
HURRICANES vs BLUES (Tomorrow, 9.35am)
Blues plus 1.5 points
BRUMBIES vs REDS (Tomorrow, 11.45am)
Reds plus 8.5 points
STORMERS vs SHARKS (Tomorrow, 3:05pm)
Sharks plus 2.5 points
BULLS vs LIONS (Tomorrow, 5:15pm)
Lions plus 4.5 points
* Kevin Ferguson is the chief executive of Highbury Media and a leading sports betting authority. Follow him on www.moneymansa.co.za