Rugby season is starting again with 15 teams, from three countries, going head-to-head over 24 weeks for one champion. That’s right, Super Rugby is starting again and Bet with Aus are taking a look at the four favourites to win.
Unsurprisingly, last year’s four semi-finalists are the bookies’ favourites to top the standings. But if there’s one thing that can be guaranteed it’s that the competition is unpredictable – who can forget last year when the Cheetahs beat the Crusaders and then lost to the Rebels, this rugby competition is a see-saw.
The game is expected to play slightly different as well, which may effect last year’s semi-finalists, as referees have been told to toughen up on the breakdown laws, which in effect will mean more penalties.¬†
Favourites to win the Grand Final, the Crusaders, hold odds of $4.50 with Centrebet. Last year they narrowly missed the final order and this year they’ll be looking to secure their eighth title. The tragic earthquake in Christchurch meant that the Crusaders did not have a permanent home ground to play on in 2011. They were also without skipper Richie McCaw for much of the season. Nevertheless, they were top of the New Zealand conference and finished third in the overall standings. ¬†A long-haul flight to travel for their semi-final meant that they were exhausted and cost them the match against the Reds. ¬†Their 2012 campaign will see them without McCaw and without a stadium until Round Five, so securing the first rounds is crucial in getting a head start.
The Blues have odds of $6 to win, with IASbet, as last season they ended¬†just one point behind conference winners the Crusaders and three behind overall second spot finishers the Stormers. Before that they had won nine out of their first eleven games, drawing one of those remaining two against the Force. ¬†This year, the Blues have a powerful attacking line-up, with¬†Ma’a Nonu, Benson Stanley, Rene Ranger, Rudi Wulf and Isaia Toeava all packing a punch. Their first match will be against last year’s finalists, the Crusaders, which will be tough battle for both.
The third favourites with the ¬†bookmakers is the Reds, who are at $6.50 with Bet365. For the Reds this’ll be the first time they’re defending the championship but will they be able to keep hold of their title?¬†Last year, the Brisbane-based side finished the regular season top of the pile in both the overall standings and Australian Conference, having won 13 of their 16 matches. ¬†From the offset the Reds were an excellent squad, tallying seven wins in a row – it was only the Hurricanes and Brumbies that defeated the Reds.¬†Their final performance was nail biting and they fought back from 7-6 ¬†at half-time, eventually winning 18-13. It’ll be all eyes on the Reds as only three teams have managed to successfully defend their title. But Coach Ewen McKenzie has ensured that 27 players in the squad will remain the same as 2011.
The Stormers have been finalists for the last two years running and offer odds of $11, with Sportingbet, ¬†for a Grand Final win. All last year, the team were always front runners in the table. Their form at home was superb and they started excellently with six consecutive victories. They failed to pitch up in the semi-final against the Crusaders, losing 29-10 in what could have been their worst performance of the season. The only major difference between their campaign now is the departure of Rassie Erasmus. The Stormers kicks off with five matches in South Africa, so if they manage to win those four home matches it could give them confidence for their overseas tour to Australia and New Zealand.