The Waratahs host the Highlanders in Round 14 of Super Rugby in Sydney on Saturday and whilst the Highlanders have been foot perfect in Dunedin, their away record is more hit and miss.
Waratahs v Highlanders, Saturday 19th May, Sydney, KO 11:45 (South African time)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)
The Waratahs have lost each of their last 3 matches but last week they threatened to spring a major surprise before being edged out 31-29 by the Crusaders in Christchurch. The Tahs were 20 point underdogs for that game but they raced into a 29-0 lead before the Saders launched their comeback. In their most recent home game the Tahs were beaten 24-21 by the Blues in Round 12 and prior to that they lost 29-0 at home to the Lions.
Following the Round 13 results the Waratahs remained top of the Australian Conference, just 1 point clear of the Rebels but the Tahs have a game in hand.
The Highlanders saw off the Lions 39-27 in Dunedin last week, justifying early market confidence from minus handicap punters. They now focus on improving an away record which comprises of 2 wins and 3 defeats and their most recent matches outside of New Zealand saw them edge out the Bulls 29-28 in Pretoria before losing 38-12 to the Sharks in Durban.
The Highlanders only other meeting with Australian opposition this season saw them cover a minus handicap with a 43-17 home win over the Brumbies in Round 9.
The Highlanders finished Round 13 in third spot in the NZ Conference, 9 points shy of the Hurricanes and 10 adrift of the Crusaders and the Saders have played 1 game more.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (Captain), 6 Will Miller, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Highlanders – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Nabura, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Subs: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Tevita Li
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
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 )
Waratahs +6.5 points 9/10 Sunbet
Highlanders -5.5 points 9/10 widely available
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
There was little to suggest the Tahs could have run the Saders so close last week but whether they can re-produce that sort of effort for a second week running is open to question. The Highlanders away form is not a patch on their record in Dunedin but I think they have enough to edge this one and hence the 1-12 margin comes into the equation.
Bet: 2.5 units, Highlanders win, under 12.5 points 19/10 Sportingbet
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