Mark Keohane weighs in on the Oracle’s betting predictions for this weekend’s rugby
Blues v Chiefs
Oracle: I like Blues here, I was impressed with them last week and felt they were unlucky not to win the game or even come close. This week they are up against a Chiefs team that were absolutely smashed by the Crusaders, yes a couple of intercept tries and a penalty try, but the Chiefs were blown away early on and quite frankly played catch up and chased for the rest of the game, this is never a good formula. Call: I call Blues to win on the board at 8/10 for 3 units (Joint Best bet of the Week)
Keo: The Blues have gone more than 730 days and 12 matches without a win against Kiwi opposition. The best is one draw in the last two seasons. This is the big north island derby and form rarely comes into the equation in this fixture. Home ground advantage has to count for something. And if not now for the Blues, then when? I’m with the Oracle on this one.
Reds v Brumbies
Oracle: The pole stood between the Brumbies drawing or even losing and what would have ultimately been an embarrassing performance, I called the Sunwolves plus and it duly arrived. This week even though the Reds were on the wrong side of a Red card, it was difficult to see how good they really are. The fact that they won the last 24 mins by 5pts is enough for me to give them a go this weekend. Call: Reds +4.5 at 1 unit (Reds to win or lose by 4pts or less)
Keo: The Reds are a rabble. And although one round doesn’t constitute a form guide I think there is far more polish and continuity with the Brumbies. I would go against the Oracle on this one and have the Brumbies to win by more than four points. Think carefully before you put any form of cash investment in the Reds.
Sunwolves v Rebels
Oracle: When I saw this handicap I immediately realised the bookies had seen the same thing I had, Sunwolves seem to be well coached and the players seem happy, there is honestly no value in this handicap and because of that I am going to have a small play on the Sunwolves to win the game on the scoreboard, at 5/2 it offers a small bit of value and I feel it is a runner. Call: Sunwolves to win on the board at 5/2 for 0.5 units
Keo: Agree with the Oracle that there is very little value because of the handicap, but from a pure result perspective I would go with a comfortable 10 plus point win for the Rebels. I wouldn’t go as far as the Oracle did in calling any team happy or sad after a fortnight in the competition. The stocks remain limited in the Sunwolves squad and the Rebels are a very good team. I reckon they will be Australia’s best team. They have recruited well and South African Dave Wessels is a quality addition as head coach.
Crusaders v Stormers
Oracle: I don’t like the Stormers this year and it is clearly evident in my call this week, the Crusaders were ruthless last week and took the opportunities offered to them. Last year Stormers went to Christchurch and got a rugby lesson, this year it will be no different for them. Considering that I have not quite got my head around whether the Stormers were good last week or the Waratahs were bad, I have to keep my play low here.Call: Crusaders – 16.5 at 1 unit (Crusaders to win by 17 or more points)
Keo: The Stormers have a good pack and vulnerable in the backs, but they will be more competitive in New Zealand because of the strength of their forwards. I think last week’s result flattered the Crusaders and the profited from the yellow card. It was a three point game till the sending off. I think the Oracle is way too generous in his belief in the Crusaders at this juncture of the season. I have them to win but by 10 or less.
Sharks v Waratahs
Oracle: Waratahs will come up against an up and coming Sharks team, they came close in Joburg a couple of weeks ago, and they had a bye week and should be refreshed. Again as mentioned above I am not sure how bad the Waratahs were last week and will take my chances in what appears to be a reasonably generous single digit handicap. Call: Sharks -6.5 at 2 units (Sharks to win by 7pts or more)
Keo: The Sharks pack won’t struggle as they did against the Lions because the Waratahs don’t compare in quality to the Lions as a set piece unit. I don’t rate the Waratahs and I do rate the potential of the Sharks. I would also go seven plus for the hosts.
Bulls v Lions
Oracle: Ok I won’t lie here, I have thought about this game for a few days now, sure I called the Bulls last week on the board and they also duly delivered, the Bulls are definitely a different beast this year under Mr Mitchell, however and I say however, this Lions team is no joke and given decent double digit handicap of around the 13 – 15pt line I may have gone Bulls, but at single digits I am forced to take what appears to be great value and go Lions one more time!! Call: Lions -8.5 at 2 units
Keo: The Lions will win this game comfortably. I’ve been impressed with the two opening matches of the Lions. The Bulls were courageous and brave against the Hurricanes, who were also pretty average at Loftus. I’ve got the Lions to win by two scores, at least, 12-plus.
Jaguares v Hurricanes
Oracle: Hurricanes did not impress me, in fact I got exactly what I expected, they lost a game they had in their hands, I am of the opinion that they will battle against this Jaguares team, the Jaguares played badly in Cape Town and were absolutely rubbish in Joburg, this week I am expecting a full crowd and a renewed performance from the home team, there is also a reasonable amount of value in the Jaguares at current levels. Call: Jaguares +13.5 at 1.5 units & Jaguares to win on the board at 7/2 for 0.5 units (Jaguares to lose by 13pts or less and or win the game)
Keo: The Canes will have been stung by their indifferent showing in Pretoria. The Jaguares are the most hyped team in the competition and the most underperforming. The odds are in keeping with what I expect. A good handicap for the hosts and with a bit of luck and referee goodwill they’ll still do enough to frustrate the Canes and restrict the visitors to a win that will be less than 12.
Oracle: This week I have a go at 6 of the 7 games on offer, I like the Kings at home against a Dragons team that has only won 2 games all season, the Cheetahs at a single digit minus v Connacht appears to be supreme value and deserves to be punished, my maximum stake is 3 units on Pro 14 and that is what I will do.
In other games, I like Cardiff to win by 11 or more v Benetton, Zebre to win on the board v Ospreys, I like both Scottish teams this week, Edinburgh to beat Munster and Glasgow to win or stay within 2pts away at Ulster, in the Scarlets v Leinster game I could not make a decision and I will leave it well alone!!
Keo: The Oracle is being charitable with the Kings. There is a reason they haven’t won a game in the competition. They simply aren’t good enough. The Cheetahs, as the Oracle says, is the best bet to punish Connacht and the bookies.
Las Vegas Sevens
This week’s 5th tournament on the Sevens calendar heads to Las Vegas, SA at 15/10 appears to be a bit of value considering it is the first time we have seen a decent price on the Blitzbokke this year, Fiji at 3/1 also appears decent, but the team is still getting to grips with working together and having a relatively new captain. Although I feel that SA and Fiji will decide the title I cannot ignore the 10/1 on offer about the USA winning their home tournament. Game handicaps will be up around 18h00 Friday SA time. Call: USA to win the tournament at 10/1 for 0.5 units
Keo: If you have some spare dosh, put it on the USA winning their home tournament. Those are great odds. And with sevens very little is as obvious as it seems. If you want to be a bit more conservative, then go with Fiji.
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FRIDAY, MARCH 2
Blues v Chiefs, Auckland – 08:35
15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Michael Tamoaieta, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 23 Michael Collins
15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Taleni Seu, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Aidan Ross
Substitutes: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Mitchell Brown/Luke Jacobson, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Tiaan Falcon, 23 Bailyn Sullivan/Declan O’Donnell
Reds v Brumbies, Brisbane – 11:00
15 Aidan Toua, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jono Lance, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Adam Korczyk, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Filipo Daugunu
15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Lachlan Mccaffrey, 5 Sam Carter, (co-captain) 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Lausii Taliauli
SATURDAY, MARCH 3
Sunwolves v Rebels, Singapore – 06:15
15 Jason Emery, 14 Lomano Lava Lemeki, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Hosea Saumaki, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Yutaka Nagare (captain), 8 Willem Britz, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Kazuki Himeno, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Ho Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
Substitutes: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 James Moore, 20 Edward Quirk, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Sione Teaupa
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Substitutes: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Colby Fainga’a, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Billy Meakes
Crusaders v Stormers, Christchurch – 08:35
15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Peter Samu, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Chris King, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele
15 SP Marais, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Resnburg
Substitutes: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Kobus van Dyk, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 George Whitehead
Sharks v Waratahs, Durban – 15:05
15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Curwin Bosch
15 Israel Folau, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Substitutes: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Kalivati Tawake, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Will Miller, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Alex Newsome
Bulls v Lions, Pretoria – 17:15
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (co-captain), 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Nic de Jager (co-captain), 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Duncan Matthews
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Madosh Tambwe