Super Rugby – The sharp end

July 2nd, 2014

Well we have now come to the crunch end of the Super Rugby conference in teh Southern Hemisphere and it is looking very congested for the final playoff spots. The Chiefs who were hot favourites at the start of the season are no looking a very ordinary side and nothing like a Championship winning side. They have not yet found their rhythm and are now looking for a last ditch effort to keep them in the chase.

Some backline juggling is surely in order but it may be a case of too little too late.

The Crusaders again have not looked like the efficient side they have been in the past but it would be brave person to bet against them making the finals. Dan Carter surely must start the next match as experience is vital to getting the crusaders to the final.Lrymple

Arguably the two most surprising teams of  the NZ conference, the Hurricanes & Highlanders are certainly in form. Beauden Barrett for the Hurricanes is a major driving force and the Smiths’, Aaron & Ben have been electric all season.


This week sees the Chiefs take on the Hurricanes in what is a do or die match for the chiefs. If the Chiefs can find their mojo and gel as a team then they should be able to sneak past the Canes, just.

The Crusaders also have a tough task on their hands with the late blossoming Blues starting to find their feet and also looking like the Auckland teams of old. Tough call this one but I wouldn’t be advers to placing a bet on the Aucklanders to pull this one out of the bag. They are playing with a bit of belief now and if they can put the Crusaders on the back foot early in the game they could be in for a win.

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Autumn Internationals Part 1 Rugby Union

November 9th, 2013

England is back where they belong – beating Southern Hemisphere teams at home in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2012 they were expected to beat a young Australian team but somehow conspired to get beaten, but then walloped the All Blacks a few weeks later. Last week they produced the result which was expected. The first half was horrible rugby to watch with a litany of errors on both sides resulting in an amateurish first 40 minutes. Lancaster must have read the riot act at half time as England knuckled down and played percentage rugby – admittedly with the help of a try which shouldn’t have been due to a dodgy linesman (sorry Assistant Referee) missing a foot on the line from Mike Brown earlier in the phase.
England should have won by more if Farrell had have been more consistent in his kicking but ultimately the best team did win. Australia again looked out of sorts when under pressure, and need to be looking at stealing some Kiwi or South African youngsters in the next few years to bolster their pack. It is very weak for an international team with World Cup winning ambitions.
England’s pack will be tested this weekend as they take on the strength of the Argentinians. The Pumas lost all of their Rugby Championship games and looked to run out of steam at the end of the tournament, especially at home where they were pummelled by Australia and the All Blacks. The wet fields of Twickenham should see them regain their muster for a fight however.
The English team remains largely the same except for Foden coming in for injured Yarde – which strengthens the team in my opinion, and a completely new front row which looks to be reinforced for scrumming. Something England will need to be strong at if they hope to set up a winning platform.
Argentina has an experienced team with some real flair at the back. The new Argentinian coach has a tough start to his tenure and has introduced 2 or 3 new faces into the pack, whilst the backline has class players such as Amorosino, Agulla, Bosch, Imhoff and the nugget Sanchez at flyhalf.
Overall I have England to win by 14 or more points at home but the first half will be very close.
England to win by 16 – 20 points @ 5/1
Marcelo Bosch to score a try @ 9/2

Author Nick ALterskye

Autumn Internationals Part 2 Rugby Union

November 9th, 2013

The best game of the weekend in my opinion will be France versus the All Blacks at a packed Stade de France. The French will want to be at their mercurial best in order to try to avenge defeat from earlier in the year. They pushed the All Blacks so close in the 1st Test back in June in New Zealnd so should have confidence of repeating this result at home.
But the All Blacks are on a different planet this year and have beaten all comers. And realistically any neutral can only see a New Zealand victory. The All Blacks are 1/5 favourites and likely to win by at least 11 points. The team which struggled at moments against Japan has some major changes with 4 backline changes and 7 changes in the forwards. The team is very reminiscent of the team which played in the Rugby Championship and comprehensively outplayed the Australians and South African teams. It oozes class, temperament, dynamism and experience. Will this team be beaten anytime in the next 3 years?
France have a strong forward pack but with less dynamism than the All Blacks. Subtlety is not a word best used when discussing players such as Pape, Mas, and Chouly. Dusautoir remains as canny as ever at the breakdown and will challenge McCaw.
The French backline has some spark but will they get the opportunity to “razzle dazzle” as Justin Marshall is want to say? In Fofana, Medard and Parra the French have pace and guile but it is rare that any opposition get space when playing the All Blacks. The only way to beat them is bludgeon up front and then play clever territory rugby.
All Blacks to win by 6 – 10 points @ 5/1
Carter to score a try at 7/2

Wales versus South Africa in Cardiff will be another cracking game but probably punctuated by a heavy kicking game as both teams look to minimise errors and let the opposition do all the playing. Wales have an incredibly strong team made up of many Lions players who successfully defeated Australia earlier in the year.
Warren Gatland has put together a squad worthy of being top 4 in the World. The pack has a solid front 3 which could monster the Springbok newcomer Frans Malherbe, with great lineout jumpers in Jones and Davies, and a very mobile loose forward trio with top class scavenging skills – Faletau, Warburton and Lydiate are World class. The Welsh weak links are Phillips and Priestland – with Phillips often attempting to out-fight the South Africans and subsequently giving penalties away or just making rash decisions. Priestland can play territory well but can also crack under pressure – something which even Dan Carter suffers from when playing against the Springbok behemoth pack.

George North and Leigh Halfpenny are 2 more World class players and need to be given the ultimate respect. The Welsh midfield combination will be up against the best midfield combination in World rugby as Jacques Fourie returns to the Springbok team. This could be a monumental test of the young Scott Williams and Jonathon Davies.
The Springboks have selected their strongest possible team over the last 2 years with JP Pietersen, Jacques Fourie, Fourie du Preez returning to the team. The pack is solid but WILL miss du Plessis at tighthead so the scrum could very well creak at times. The pack has size and bulk but not much in the way of pace so we will again see a ruck and maul game with plenty of kicking from the halfbacks. Pat Lambie at fullback provides security under the high ball as well as a better clearance kicking game.
Overall I think the Springboks will just shade the match by about 3 points @ 4/1
Wales to lead 1st half, SA to win the 2nd half @ 6/1

For Autumn International Rugby Union, as well as other domestic competition betting odds go to

Author \nivk \slterskye

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