S15 odds preview - Week 5
Cape Town - The Crusaders will be in the spotlight this week, in Round 5 of the 2012 Super Rugby season, with the return to fitness of talisman Dan Carter and the return to their home ground in Christchurch.
The Crusaders will play their first match at the new Christchurch Stadium, which was renovated after last year's earthquake destroyed the Crusaders' home ground and saw them play on the road for the entire 2011 season.
The men in Red & Black, seven-time Super Rugby winners, have made a tough start to the 2012 Super Rugby season, but they are still the odds-on favourites - according to Bet.co.za - to take overall honours this year.
Of course, playing at home - where they will host the Cheetahs - and the return of Carter will be major boosts for a team that has played three, won one and lost two after four rounds of Super Rugby action.
A closer look at Super Rugby, Week 5 action with Bet.co.za:
(All kick-off's SA time)
Blues v Hurricanes (Auckland) - 08:35
Odds: Blues 5/9 and Hurricanes 14/9
Two of the most improved teams in recent weeks will go head-to-head in Auckland, with Bet.co.za instilling the home side - the Blues - as favourites. The Blues are just back from a fairly successful trip to South Africa, with one win and one loss, whilst the Hurricanes suffered a close loss to the unbeaten Highlanders to leave them in mid-table.
Rebels v Force (Melbourne) - 10:40
Odds: Rebels 4/5 and Force 1/1
This could be the hardest game to watch - these two teams boasting just one win from seven fixtures between them so far in 2012. Yes, the Force did beat the Waratahs last week - in the shock of the season so far - but it was hardly vintage stuff. Bet.co.za has put the Rebels as favourites, just; but hopefully this match will produce some exciting rugby.
(All kick-off's SA time)
Waratahs v Sharks (Sydney) - 06:35
Odds: Waratahs 13/20 and Sharks 13/10
The Sharks would have arrived in Sydney as a confident side after their home win over the Reds, whereas the 'Tahs will be a broken side after going down at home to the Force in a boreathon last weekend. Bet.co.za has the Waratahs as favourites, so money could be made here on an away victory - despite the Sharks not having won in Sydney since 2000.
Crusaders v Cheetahs (Christchurch) - 08:35
Odds: Crusaders 3/50 and Cheetahs 8/1
Expect an emotional affair as the Crusaders return to their home town and they welcome back the world's best No 10 Dan Carter - in all likelihood from the bench. The Cheetahs were full value in their last-gasp win over the Rebels - and will be a better team for it - but even given their appealing odds for a win, it would take a brave person to back the visitors.
Brumbies v Highlanders (Canberra) - 10:40
Odds: Brumbies 13/10 and Highlanders 13/20
Bet.co.za are offering some interesting odds for a home victory... but one gets the feeling that it could be another weekend of Kiwi disappointment for the Australians after losing in dramatic circumstances to the Chiefs last week. The Highlanders are fast developing into a fearsome unit this season and should be favourites despite being away from home.
Bulls v Reds (Pretoria) - 17:05
Odds: Bulls 13/50 and Reds 14/5
The Reds have a huge injury crisis at flyhalf with Ben Lucas and Mike Harris both battling hamstring injuries and they will also be without flying winger Digby Ioane who has been suspended for five weeks for a dangerous tackle. It's never easy winning at Loftus - nevermind being without Ioane and co. - and the home side will be refreshed from their week's break after their shock home loss to the Blues in Week 3.
Lions v Stormers (Johannesburg) - 19:10
Odds: Lions 13/5 and Stormers 3/10
The Lions are battling with some serious injuries - with about ten first-choice players unavailable for selection, prompting coach John Mitchell to label it the worst crisis he has seen in 16 years of coaching. The Stormers, meanwhile, are cock-a-hoop; unbeaten and sporting the meanest tight five in years. It all points to a Stormers win - with Bet.co.za's odds favouring the visitors who have not lost a Super Rugby match to the Lions (or Cats) since 2001.
Visit www.bet.co.za for updated odds ahead of the weekend