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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Forwards could make presence felt first at Newlands

Warrick Gelant cam have early impact for Bulls

Franco Mostert carries the bal for the Lions against the Hurricanes
1 of 1

Chiefs v Waratahs
Sky Sports Action, 8.35am Saturday

The Chiefs have bounced back from each of their three previous defeats this campaign with a certain degree of ease, but they run out against the Waratahs in Hamilton days after jetting back from Durban and the Tahs are taken to stay within 14 points.

The Sydney outfit's Kiwi head coach Daryl Gibson will have stressed the importance of hanging tough at Waikato Stadium because another losing bonus point would not be the end of the world in terms of their tussle with the Rebels for top spot in the Australian Conference and their handy home success over the Highlanders last week should have restored morale after three defeats on the spin.

The fact that they beat the Highlanders so convincingly after enduring the heartbreak of losing 31-29 to the Crusaders in Christchurch after leading 29-0 at the break speaks volumes. Profligacy cost the Tahs at home to the Blues and their first-ever shutout reverse at home to the Lions looks exceptional.

Even when they were terrible against Jaguares in Buenos Aires, the Tahs scored late tries to put respectability on the scoreboard and they've also won easily in Tokyo and Canberra and drawn with the Sharks in Durban on the road.

The Chiefs continue to contend with an injury crisis and their set-piece was a mess in their second-home loss to Jaguares in Rotorua three weeks ago. All three of their Hamilton home wins over the Bulls, Highlanders and Chiefs have been by 13 points or less.

Waratahs +13.5
1pt 5-6 Betfair

Reds v Highlanders
Sky Sports Action. 10.40am Saturday

A bet on Highlanders and New Zealand wing Waisake Naholo notching a seventh try of the season and giving All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen a timely nudge in terms of team selection in next month's Test series against France.

As well as touchdowns in wins against the Stormers, Brumbies and Lions on home turf this campaign, Naholo has bagged a brace in the Highlanders' loss at the Hurricanes and dotted down in their defeat at the Chiefs.

The Reds' defence has been found wanting in road defeats at the Sunwolves and Hurricanes over the last fortnight but it is far from a recent trend. The Queenslanders have conceded 34 tries in their last seven matches including five to the Chiefs in a 36-12  Suncorp dismantling.

The Highlanders are likely to employ adventurous tactics as they need to make up ground on several outfits in the playoffs race and a strong bench including All Blacks Liam Squire and Aaron Smith suggests they will not be shutting up shop in the second half.

W Naholo to score a try
1pt 20-21 bet365

Bulls v Brumbies
Sky Sports Action, 2.05pm Saturday

The Brumbies have lost five on the spin but they make the short journey up South Africa's A1 from Johannesburg to Pretoria, while the Bulls have jetted out and back from Buenos Aires in the past fornight.

The best value bet, therefore, looks to be an each-way play on Bulls full-back Warrick Gelant scoring the first try at 17-2 with Betfair.

Four of Gelant's seven tries this season have been the first of the game including the opener in their last Loftus Versfeld outing, a 39-33 success over the Sharks. He also bagged a hat-trick in those teams' first meeting, despite the rain, in Durban.

And he will keen to make another good impression on new South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus, if this fine club form and scoring in his first Test start for the Springboks against Wales in Cardiff last December are not enough of a marker.

The Brumbies have conceded 22 tries in their run of defeats, six each on the road at Ellis Park and in Dunedin.

W Gelant to score the first try
1pt each-way 17-2 Betfair

Stormers v Lions
Sky Sports Action red button, 4.15pm Saturday

With heavy rain forecast for Cape Town, backing a forward to score the first ry at Newlands could prove profitable.

The visiting Lions love to use the rolling maul and their pack heavyweights for close-range drives. Flanker Marnus Schoeman has six tries this season and fellow back-rowers Kwagga Smith and Franco Mostert love a dart at the line.

The Stormers tend to play a more expansive, off-load game than the visiting back-to-back runners-up but that does not mean that they do not possess their own men prepared to do the hard yards, tighthead prop Wilco Louw is their top scorer with four tries. They also boast mobile backrowers in Siya Kolisi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

Forward to score the first try
1pt 13-8 Betway

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The Queenslanders have conceded 34 tries in their last seven matches including five to the Chiefs in a 36-12 Suncorp dismantling
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