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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Stormers can continue to make huge home strides

Jack Maddocks can make a mark in Canberra clash

The Stormers celebrate a try in their home win over the Blues
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Highlanders v Lions
Sky Sports Action, 8.35am Saturday

Take back-to-back Super Rugby runners-up the Lions to pinch at least a point from their trip to Dunedin.

The Johannesburg franchise began their four-match antipodean tour with a sensational 29-0 win over the Waratahs in Sydney and although they have slid to defeat in Brisbane and Wellington since, they have not been outplayed.

The Lions lost 27-22 to the Reds and so picked up a losing bonus, while last Saturday they refused to roll over in a 28-19 defeat to the Hurricanes, who have gone on to secure a ninth win on the spin.

The Highlanders have won all four of their matches at the Forsyth-Barr Stadium this season but have been far from in control of each encounter including their 43-17 success over the Brumbies. 

They have also just jetted back in from South Africa, where they won a bruising battle with the Bulls a fortnight ago and were shredded by the Sharks last Saturday.

Recommendation
Lions +9
1pt 10-11 BoyleSports, Coral


Brumbies v Rebels
Sky Sports Action, 10.45am Saturday

Freakishly cold, wet and windy weather is affecting Canberra but the best value bet still looks to be an outside back, in Rebels' full-back Jack Maddocks, to score a try.

Maddocks has scored five tries this season and although the Melbourne men's campaign has gone south since a fine start of four wins in five, they are not going to start tightening up their tactics totally now.

Maddocks is also a sharp spark on the kick-chase and in defence and there have been plenty of mistakes in this area by the Brumbies in their own up-and-down set of results.

The Rebels get a six-point start but they cannot be backed after conceding 26 tries in five defeats on the spin.

The Brumbies won the teams' last ACT meeting 32-3 but cannot trusted to prevail cosily when they have lost three of five in front of their fans this term and were turned over 33-10 at AAMI Park in round four.

Recommendation
J Maddocks to score a try
1pt 13-4 bet365


Stormers v Chiefs
Sky Sports Action, 2.05pm Saturday

The Chiefs have won on three of their last four trips to Cape Town including playoff clashes last year and in 2016.

However, the Stormers with a start of one point looks the Newlands bet.

The WP-outfit have delighted their fans with four home wins out of four this campaign, all with a comfort not always reflected in the final scoreboard, and won last year's regular season meeting 34-26. They also showed that they could score tries against Kiwi opposition when beaten in their early season tour games at the Crusaders and Highlanders.

The Chiefs have been battling an injury crisis all season so will be chuffed with six wins but they need to pick themselves up from a home loss to Los Jaguares last Saturday when their set-piece fell apart.

The Waikato franchise have also been beaten cosily at the Crusaders and Hurricanes this term when confronted by quality outfits in front of loud home crowds.

Recommendation
Stormers +1
1pt 19-20 Betway


Sunwolves v Reds
Sky Sports Action, 4.05am Saturday

The Reds are worth a wager to give up six points to hosts the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

The Queensland outfit righted a rocky patch before a freshening bye with their 27-22 Suncorp success over last year's runners-up the Lions. Earlier in the campaign they scraped an 18-7 win in Buenos Aires over Los Jaguares. 

The Sunwolves continue to pose more of a threat with the ball in hand but their defensive structures continue to be breached too easily. They have conceded 30 points or more in eight of their nine games and even when they kept the Blues to 24 points, they only managed ten themselves.

The Reds won the teams' only previous encounter 35-25 and, for all the personnel changes in both camps since May 2016, a similar scoreline would not surprise at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

Recommendation
Reds -6
1pt 10-11 Hills


Crusaders v Waratahs
Sky Sports Action, 6.15am Saturday 

Three weeks ago, there is no way that the Waratahs would have got a start as big as 21 points from their traditionally biggest trans-Tasman rivals the Crusaders, even though they have not won in eight trips to Christchurch or Nelson, including the 2005 and 2008 Super Rugby finals.

The Tahs had won five and drawn one of seven outings while the Crusaders were resting after gaining narrow wins over the Lions in Johannesburg and Los Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Then the Tahs were tonked 29-0 by the Lions in Sydney, their first-ever Super Rugby shutout, and after a bye they lost to the Blues last Saturday at Brookvale Oval, when they were punished for squandering countless opportunities.

The Red & Black Machine have now rolled on to six straight wins, despite picking up a haul of yellow cards, and all five of their home wins this season have been by a margin of 13 points or more.

This Crusaders indiscipline means that rather than trusting them on the handicap, the best bet is to back their bulldozing outside centre Jack Goodhue to score for a fourth game in a row.

Goodhue dotted down against the Rebels in Melbourne last week after a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring strain gained in the process of crossing the whitewash against the Lions. The week before he had bagged a brace in their AMI outing against the Bulls.

He clearly has the temperament for the big occasion because he scored a try in last year's final triumph over the Lions at Ellis Park and will want to impress the All Blacks selectors again before their June Tests squad announcement.

Recommendation
J Goodhue to score a try
1pt 6-5 Betfair, Sky Bet


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The WP-outfit have delighted their fans with four home wins out of four this campaign
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