The 2020 Super Rugby season continues with a busy Round 4 programme of games and Bettingpro.com.au previews all of the action.
Get our Super Rugby tips and match previews throughout the season as the Crusaders bid to defend their title.
Read our guide to Round 4:
Crusaders vs Highlanders
Order was restored last week as the Crusaders trumped the Blues convincingly 25-8. They fell behind early, leaking a try in the sixth minute, but it would be the only time their line was breached as the returning Richie Mo’unga helped guide them to victory. The Crusaders lineout was particularly excellent, going 100% on their own 17 throws, while also snatching six from the Blues as well. The Highlanders showed plenty of heart last week,snatching victory away from the Brumbies on the road with a try in the 82nd minute. While they turned the ball over just six times, questions are growing about an attack that could muster just one try in the game prior to their late strike and also a defense that has allowed 65 points in two games. That defense is going to get a very real test this week against a Crusaders team on their home paddock where they are almost unbeatable.
Rebels vs Sharks
The Rebels finally joined the winners circle with a 24-10 over the Waratahs, but the circumstances were far from convincing. The visiting Waratahs reinforced why they are the bottom team on the overall ladder,and yet the Rebels needed tries in the 74th and 80th minute to create this flattering scoreline. To the Rebels credit, they were very disciplined giving up just five penalties. The Sharks wilted in Wellington against the Hurricanes, falling 38-22. The first half was a fantastic back and forth exchange before the Sharks faded in the second stanza, heavily impacted by injuries throughout the contest and even before kickoff. The lineout was a real struggle for the Sharks, losing six on their own throw as was their ball retention with 21 turnovers. However, they looked threatening on attack, with 19 clean breaks and a few moments where execution was slightly off costing them five pointers. The Rebels are a big step down
from the Hurricanes and the Sharks, despite this loss, look one of the stronger teams in the competition particularly with Curwin Bosch returning.
Chiefs vs Brumbies
A road trip against the Sunwolves was expected to be an easy waltz for the Chiefs, and that is exactly what it was. Despite resting some key contributors like Aaron Cruden, it was smooth sailing for the Chiefs who ran away 43-17. Chiefs fans, and New Zealand fans in general, will be loving seeing the brilliant Damian McKenzie back in full flight as he was in this outing. It’s difficult to read too much into this win given the level of competition, but the Chiefs in these early stages are looking like championship candidates. The Brumbies, conversely, may have been exposed last week as the opposite. While they sit atop the Australian table currently, their first real test of the season going up against the Highlanders the failed, albeit in drastic fashion conceding a try in the 82nd minute to cough up the win in Canberra. That challenge, however, will be nothing compared to what they’re up against this week, on the road, against a Chiefs team that looks to have them covered all over the park. It’s a big line, but the Chiefs look capable of piling on the points against all comers.
Reds vs Sunwolves
Super Rugby’s struggle to get viewers in Australia will get no help with this encounter. The Reds remain without a win after falling to the Jaguares 43-27 last week in Argentina. Nobody gave them a chance in that encounter, but they turned plenty of heads with a strong first half lead where they ran in four tries. Unfortunately for the Reds, those would be the only tries they’d score, a lone penalty their only points in the second half while they watched five tries go the other way. While they will get the home advantage, they’ve also needed to take the long journey back this week to play the host. The Sunwolves faced a mountain too high to climb last week hosting a Chiefs side that was eager to stretch their legs. They proved accommodating, allowing seven tries to the tune of 43 points. While the score didn’t reflect it, however, they showed some attacking skills of their own, matching the Chiefs with 14 breaks, 32 defenders beaten which was more than the Chiefs, and 13 offloads to the Chiefs 4. Both of these sides struggle with getting wins, but they have a lot of fight. This should be a good competitive game with the Reds getting the edge but the Sunwolves sticking around.
Stormers vs Jaguares
Shifting across the globe, early supremacy in the South African conference is on the line in Cape Town. The Stormers are one of only two unbeaten teams left in the competition, but they walked a very fine line to keep that streak alive needing a try in the 81st minute to squeak past the Lions 33-30. They did leave some points on the tee, kicking at 71%, and those could be vital in this contest, as they nearly were against the Lions. Fortunately for the Stormers, Jaco Coetzee and Herschel Jantjies look set to be available. The Jaguares ran away from the Reds in their home win, 43-27, but suffered a scare of their own early as they fell behind in the first half allowing four tries. To their credit, they fought back, and well with five tries in the second while limiting the Reds to just three points. The will need to start much faster here because the Stormers will not be as forgiving. They conceded just three penalties last week which was an incredible effort and that type of discipline will really keep them in this fight. I expect an almost playoff level contest here with the Jaguares at least keeping things close.
Bulls vs Blues
It may be early in the season, but this may be a defining moment for one of these sides if they are to put themselves in the running this year. The Bulls, coming off the bye, are without a win in two games so far. Another loss sends them to 0-3 in a conference where multiple teams are making statements early. Prior to the bye, they were blanked 13-0, and they’ve amassed just 15 points in their two games to date. The Blues fell to 1-2 after picking up another loss last week, and falling to 1-3 in the New Zealand conference will make life very difficult. Life was already difficult last week when they hosted the Crusaders, going down 25-8. They went 74 minutes without a try after striking in the sixth minute, and their set piece struggled hugely particularly at the lineout where they lost six on their own throw. Their other loss on the year came against the Chiefs, but their win came against the Waratahs, so it is hard to get a gauge on them currently. However, while they’ll be on the road, they’ve flashed more signs of potential than the Bulls have so far, and they should have too many points in them for the Bulls to keep up.