Sunday's action in Round 8 of Super Rugby Aotearoa sees the Blues head to Dunedin for a clash with the Highlanders.
Highlanders v Blues, Sunday 2nd August, Dunedin, KO 05:35 (South African time)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Brendon Pickerill
Television match official: Chris Hart
Weather Forecast – N/A indoor stadium
The Highlanders were not in action last week and their most recent outing came in Round 6 when they won away to the Chiefs (33-31). They were the underdogs for that game and that has been the case most of the season but they also beat the Chiefs in Round 1 and now have a record of 2 wins and 3 defeats.
In the first meeting with the Blues this season the Highlanders went down 27-24 but they were given a 9.5 point start by the bookmakers on the handicap for that game so the plus was they way to go.
In other results the Highlanders were beaten 17-11 away to the Hurricanes and (40-20) by the Crusaders in Dunedin.
The Blues returned to the winners enclosure in Round 7 with a 21-17 home victory over the Chiefs. Prior to that they were beaten 29-27 by the Hurricanes in Wellington last week and they now have a record of 4 wins and 2 defeats. That means the Blues come into the round in second place in the standings, 2 points behind the Crusaders (who are in action on Saturday and have played one game fewer).
The Blues other loss came against the log leaders (26-15) in Christchurch but they started with 3 straight wins, home games against the Canes (30-20) and the Highlanders (27-24) and when they travelled to Hamilton to meet the Chiefs, they came out on top 24-12.
In the outright betting the Blues are trading in the region of 13/2 to win the title.
Highlanders: 15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Jona Nareki
Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Otere Black, 23 Harry Plummer
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2020 SRA Auckland Blues 27-24 Highlanders (Tries 4-3)
2019 Dunedin Highlanders 24-12 Blues (Tries 3-2)
2019 Auckland Blues 33-26 Highlanders (Tries 4-2)
2018 Auckland Blues 16-34 Highlanders (Tries 2-5)
2018 Dunedin Highlanders 41-34 Blues (Tries 5-4)
2017 Dunedin Highlanders 26-20 Blues (Tries 2-2)
2017 Auckland Blues 12-16 Highlanders (Tries 0-1)
2016 Auckland Blues 33-31 Highlanders (Tries 3-4)
2015 Auckland Blues 7-44 Highlanders (Tries 1-7)
2015 Dunedin Highlanders 30-24 Blues (Tries 3-4)
Highlanders +4.5 at 9/10
Blues -4.5 at 9/10
Note: Odds quoted are subject to change
I priced this game as Highlanders +4.5 so it is fair to say I got it spot on. That also means there is not a lot of value in the handicap for me but as I stated on last nights edition of THE HANDICAP (and much to everyone’s surprise given my love for the Blues) I think the Highlanders have every chance of winning this game.
They were excellent in coming back to beat the Chiefs in Hamilton and in this competition the bye week is generally followed by a good performance. The Blues are playing well but I think they might be vulnerable and will take the 33/20 on offer at Playabets
BET: 2 units Highlanders win at 33/20 at Playabets
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