Couch Critic previews the Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Highlanders and the Blues including best bets with @Olimp_SA
Highlanders vs Blues – Sunday 02 August @ 05:35, Dunedin
The Highlanders come into this clash off the back of a bye week but before this they dramatically beat the Chiefs with an incredible late surge and will still be buzzing from that comeback (or potentially still from a very big weekend of letting their hair down). The Blues have hardly been at their fluent best over the past few weeks yet were able to dig deep at the death last week and avoid a third straight loss by pipping the Chiefs to the win.
Crucially for the Blues Hoskins Sotutu still isn’t back at the back of the scrum. Beauden Barrett does continue at 10 which for mind is a good thing if you are in the Blues camp. The Highlanders will miss Rob Thomson in midfield but do have Josh Iona now firmly back at flyhalf. This promises to be a great clash between the two backrows with ball carriers Akrio Ioane clashing with Frizell and Mikaele Tu’u.
The Highlanders haven’t taken a step back against any opponent thus far. They finally have Josh Ione back in their ranks and there will be plenty of confidence in the camp at the moment. The Southerners will feel this Blues team is running out of steam in the second half of the comp and are ripe for the picking. The visitors on the other hand will be keen to click back into top gear under the Forsyth Barr roof. The likes of Rieko Ione and Caleb Clarke remain as dangerous as ever but the forwards need to lift their efforts yet again to ensure the weaponry out the back can be best utilised.
I see the home side charging out the gates but am not convinced that the Highlanders will be able to hang on against a Blues to who will know this is a must-win if they want to remain in with a shot at winning the comp. Some alternative plays seem the way to go.
BETOLIMP BEST BETS
Half Time / Full Time – Highlanders / Blues @ 5.36
Half Time / Full Time Winning Margin – Highlanders (1-8) / Blues (1-12) 13.00
First Tryscorer: Akira Ioane price 14.00
Last Tryscorer: Beauden Barrett 17.00
(Note, all odds quoted are subject to change)