CAPE TOWN – Allow me a refresher of my opening paragraph a week ago.
It read: “Put your faith in the Sharks to beat the Blues in Durban. I’m putting down R1 000 on an outright win for the Sharks. This will give me a R2 200 return, including my R1 000 bet.”
I am again going with the Sharks as the best bet of the Super Rugby weekend. They are at home to the indifferent Stormers and the bookies have them as favourites. I’m picking them for a seven or more win and for each rand I bet, I will get 90 cents back. I am putting down R1 000 for R1 900. I like what I saw of the Sharks against the Sunwolves in week one and I also enjoyed their performance against the Blues in particularly difficult playing conditions.
The bookies have pretty much got it spot on with this weekend’s odds and that means there isn’t a heck of a lot to be made. You could call it a boring betting week if you are looking just at results or spreads, but I see it more as a conservative week where the punter consolidates and is prepared for small gains.
Most of the matches have even money odds and one must bear in mind that the New Zealand teams have a very structured player rotation policy because of an agreement between the All Black coach and the respective Super Rugby coaches.
In the first two rounds none of the New Zealand teams have fielded their best available because of the World Cup year player management agreement.
I know Rassie Erasmus has his own player management schedule with the South African coaches, but in the early rounds we haven’t seen any of the World Cup contenders missing action. It has only been in the case of injury.
I also take the Australian collective performances with a pinch of salt. They have been diabolical in Super Rugby in the past few years and went 40 successive matches without victory against New Zealand teams.
This season they have enjoyed success against Kiwi sides, but history reminds us that in a World Cup year New Zealand sacrifices all other potential success, be it in Super Rugby or the Rugby Championship.
The form guide will only kick in after a month, so we’re still two rounds away from starting to get a feel of where this year’s tournament outcome is heading.
I am watching the Highlanders with interest. I picked them at 9/1 to finish the league season first. I did this because of the minimal disruption when it comes to All Black selection. They are two from two and, admittedly, they’ve sneaked the wins.
They are on the road to the Rebels and while the bookies have the Rebels as favourites, the one thing the Highlanders have is a winning habit. I won’t be betting on the game, but a Highlanders win would certainly strengthen the possibility of my pre-tournament log-finishing bet.
Outside of the Sharks match, the only result I will be betting on is the Jaguares to beat the Blues. I am putting down R1 000 and will get back R1 800 on an outright win.
I was surprised with how easily the Brumbies beat the Chiefs in Canberra and equally with how comprehensively the Hurricanes were beaten by the Crusaders. The Canes are at home to the Brumbies and the bookies have given them a significant advantage on the spread. I’d avoid this game because it could either be a blowout for the Brumbies or they could win.
As for the Lions versus Bulls, I am staying away from a bet. The odds aren’t great either way.
* Kevin Ferguson is the chief executive of Highbury Media and the leading sports betting authority in South Africa. Follow him on www.moneymansa.co.za