Couch Critic previews Bulls v Pumas and Cheetahs v Griquas in Round 7 of Super Rugby Unlocked, plus selected Mitre 10 Cup and English Premiership matches including best bets with @Olimp_SA
It’s the final round of Super Rugby Unlocked and unfortunately COVID-related issues has meant it’s a bit of a damp squid with the Bulls all but certain of taking the title. I will however also touch on one or two other domestic games across the globe that catch my attention.
Bulls vs Pumas – Saturday 21 Nov @ 14:00, Pretoria
The Bulls only have to ensure they don’t lose by 40 points against the Pumas, but I think we can say with certainty that Jake White will have his chargers up to the task of executing something a bit better than “not losing by plenty”. The Pumas have had a severely hampered build-up to this game given some Corona interference in their camp.
The Bulls will want to win with room to spare to put an exclamation mark on their Unlocked campaign and also silence some of those who feel that they have benefitted from COVID issues elsewhere. Yet it will remain a tough task to have these Bulls at their ruthless best and putting the boot in when they know full well that the title is in the bag. I expect the Pumas to put up a fight on Saturday.
Cheetahs vs Griquas – Saturday 21 Nov @ 16:30, Bloemfontein
The Griquas surprised many by coming bitterly close to upsetting the Sharks last week. The men form Kimberley have shown glimpses of what they can do against both the Sharks and Bulls and are certainly not a walking five points for anyone facing them. The Cheetahs have dropped off from their high levels earlier in the season and have had to cope with losing a number of players in recent times. This week they do however have Frans Steyn, Rhyno Smith and Howard Mnisi finally back on the park in what looks a lethal back division. Their forwards ranks will miss some power and experience, but this shouldn’t trip them up too much against the Kwaste.
The biggest consideration for me in this game would be the weather. I am undecided on the handicap but if the rain stays away the main thing I do expect is both teams to play an expansive game with plenty of tries flowing. Look out for points in this one. BET HERE
Hawke’s Bay vs Taranaki – Saturday 21 Nov @ 05:35, Napier NZ – Mitre 10 Cup
Hawke’s Bay have impressed this season – from their ten outings HB won 7 whilst Taranaki could only manage 4 victories. Taranaki come up short against the Magpies last time out and that was at home. This week they have to travel and are also missing a few key players. I don’t see Taranaki capable of staying with Ash Dixon’s chargers.
Harlequins vs Exeter – Friday 20 Nov @ 05:35, Twickenham Stoop – Gallagher English Premiership
The Gallagher Premiership kicks off in England this weekend and I like the look of this game for a punt. Exeter finished the 2019/20 season as a highlight in their club history winning both the Heineken Cup as well as the local Premiership. One would thus expect them to be the hot favourites going into this clash against the Harlequins to get the new season going. The Chiefs are missing stalwarts like Jack Nowell and Jacques Vermeulen at present whilst Stuart Hogg, Johnny Gray and Henry Slade are some of the internationals missing out. Perhaps it’s my Natal Sharks bias showing but I like the look of this Harlequins side and expect a big effort from them at home at the Stoop on Friday night. The spine of Alex Dombrandt, Danny Care and Marcus Smith as an 8, 9 & 10 combo has me convinced in backing Quins on the plus for this one.
(Note, all odds quoted are subject to change)