Wed, Jun 29, 10:55am by Staff Writer
Super Rugby returns after the June International break for three more Rounds of the regular season. There is still plenty to play for in each of the Conferences as teams push for the playoff positions on the ladder.
Just how returning International stars settle back into the domestic routine will be vital as across the competition players will be looking to make an impact.
The Australian Conference has seen the lead change hands on a number of occasions this season with the Rebels, Brumbies and Waratahs claiming top spot at one stage.
Although the Rebels can mathematically still win the Conference it is realistically down to the Waratahs and the Brumbies. Making the clash in Canberra between the Brumbies and the Reds a must win match with William Hill making the Brumbies strong favourites at $1.14.
A disappointing season for the Reds has seen a poor return of only three wins all season and with their odds at $5.60 it appears a long stretch that they will add to that tally here.
The Queenslanders, however, have proven at least once this year that they can compete with the best when they beat the Highlanders, do not rule out a potential shock in this Aussie Derby.
Across the Tasman the close fought battle intensifies in Round 15 as the two top ranked sides in the New Zealand Conference, the Chiefs and Crusaders, meet. Neither side can afford to lose this historic match, the first Super Rugby match to be played in Suva, Fiji.
With the Crusaders edging the Chiefs on the ladder by three points, William Hill has the Crusaders as favourites to win the match at $1.77. The impact of the returning All Blacks will be significant as both teams heavily featured in the International squad. William Hill has the Chiefs priced at $2.05 and if this season’s star find, Damian McKenzie, can continue his form then it is possible that the Chiefs can overturn those odds.
In the Africa 2 Conference it is this Round’s clash between the Lions and the Sharks that will draw all the attention. This is a match that the Sharks need to win to stay in contention for the playoffs and put themselves in a position to overtake the Lions on the ladder. The Lions are in scintillating form since they lost to the Hurricanes, putting a minimum of 40 points past their last three opponents (Blues, Jaguares and Bulls).
Understandably William Hill have the Lions as favourites priced at $1.50 while an upset for the Sharks stands at $2.60. Indifferent form and close losses has led to the Sharks’ current predicament, yet they are currently in the midst of a three game winning streak.
To overcome the Lions and the Ellis Park faithful will be a massive feat but not one that the Sharks will shy away from this weekend.
All 18 Super Rugby sides are in action in Round 15 with big matches in six different countries. These three matches are the standout highlights of the Round as Super Rugby gets to the business end of the season.
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