The first action in Round 18 of Super Rugby sees the Highlanders clash with the Waratahs in Invercargill on Friday, the home side need a victory but even that may not be enough to see them into the play offs.
Highlanders v Waratahs, Friday 14th June, Invercargill, KO 09:35 (South African time)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Refs: Brendon Pickerill, James Munro
TMO: Glenn Newman
Weather Forecast – Invercargill
The Highlanders drew 24-24 with the Bulls in Dunedin last week and they remain outside of the play off places with 31 log points. Failure to win that game was a blow to their chances of reaching the quarter finals as whilst a prolonged stay in the tournament remains a possibility they now need a victory here, almost certainly with a bonus point, and they must also hope other results later in the round go their way.
The Highlanders overall record now comprises of 5 wins, 7 defeats and 3 draws and it’s that win tally which could come back and haunt them as that is the first port of call when teams finish with the same number of log points. The Highlanders have won just 1 of their last 5 outings and their only winning bonus point this season came away to the Sunwolves in Round 11.
Two matches against Australian opposition came early in the tournament, a 36-31 home win over the Reds in Round 2 followed by a 24-19 defeat to the Rebels in Melbourne a week later.
The Waratahs were beaten 35-24 by the Brumbies in Sydney last week and realistically they are now out of the running. The Tahs overall record this season comprises of 6 wins and 9 defeats and although 4 of those victories came in Australian derby matches they are only third best in the Australian Conference, 13 points behind the Brumbies and 4 shy of the Rebels.
Away from home this season the Waratahs have 3 wins and 4 defeats against their name. An earlier visit to New Zealand this season saw them edged out 32-29 by the Blues in Auckland in Round 8. Their best result of the campaign came in Round 6 when they beat the Crusaders 20-12 in Sydney. A Round 1 home game against the Hurricanes was lost by a single point (20-19) with a late Tahs penalty miss looking pretty expensive now.
The Tahs beat the Highlanders twice last season including a quarter final. Both those meetings came in Sydney but their last win over this opponent in New Zealand came back in 2008.
HIGHLANDERS: Josh McKay, Waisake Naholo, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Josh Ioane, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, James Lentjes, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Dickson, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon, Kayne Hammington, Marty Banks
WARATAHS: Alex Newsome, Cam Clark, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona, Mack Mason, Nick Phipps, (c), Michael Wells, Will Miller, Hugh Sinclair, Tom Staniforth, Ned Hanigan, Tom Robertson, Damien Fitzpatrick, Harry Johnson-Holmes
Reserves: Andrew Tuala, Rory O’Connor, Shambeckler Vui, Ryan McCauley, Jed Holloway, Jack Dempsey, Jake Gordon, Tautalatasi Tasi
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2018 Sydney Waratahs 30-23 Highlanders (Tries 3-2 ) (play off)
2018 Sydney Waratahs 41-12 Highlanders (Tries 6-2 )
2017 Dunedin Highlanders 44-28 Waratahs (Tries 6-4 )
2016 Sydney Waratahs 26–30 Highlanders (Tries 4-4)
2015 Sydney Waratahs 17-35 Highlanders (Tries 1-5 ) (semi final)
2015 Dunedin Highlanders 26-19 Waratahs (Tries 4-3 )
2014 Sydney Waratahs 44-16 Highlanders (Tries 6-1 )
2012 Dunedin Highlanders 18-17 Waratahs (Tries 2-1 )
2011 Sydney Waratahs 33-7 Highlanders (Tries 5-1 )
Highlanders -18.5 points at 9/10 at WSB
Waratahs +19.5 points at 19/20 at Betxchange
Note, odds quoted are available at the time of writing but are subject to change.
There has been serious line movement in this game and those punters who stay close to the Goodforthegame Forum would have been alerted to it. When I did my handicap projection video I went Highlanders -14.5 on the basis the Waratahs would rest their top players and when the line opened at -10.5 there some something of a feeding frenzy. Needless to say the -10.5 is long gone and for those that missed it the -18.5 could still be worth a play as the Highlanders will be pushing not only for a win but for a bonus point win.
An angle I prefer at this point though is to back the home team -9.5 on the half time handicap. They will be fired up and I expect a strong start with them quite possibly putting this game to bed by the break.
There are no points lines as yet but this game is not under the roof and conditions are expected to be poor. If the Waratahs points line is around 18.5 I would probably go under.
Bet: 4 units Highlanders HT handicap -9.5 at 17/20 at Sunbet Claim your 1st deposit bonus of up to R1,000 here
(Unit Scale 1 to 10)
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