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    Bookies not sold on Stormers' title chances

    2017-04-11 15:06

    Garrin Lambley - Sport24 Editor

    Cape Town - Despite a thrilling victory over the Chiefs at Newlands last Saturday, bookmakers aren't sold on the Stormers clinching a maiden Super Rugby title in 2017.

    The Stormers put to bed the demons of last year's horror 60-21 quarter-final thrashing at the hands of the same New Zealand foes, to run out 34-26 victors in their Round 7 clash.

    The victory gave the Cape side a commanding - and likely insurmountable - 17 point lead atop the Africa Conference 1 standings.

    A first place finish would ensure a home quarter-final for coach Rob Fleck's team, where they will be joined as playoff hosts by the Africa Conference 2 winners (currently the Lions), the Australian Conference winners (currently the Brumbies) and the New Zealand Conference victors (currently the Crusaders).

    With a home playoff match thus virtually assured, it therefore comes as something of a surprise (but potentially excellent value) that the Stormers are "only" joint sixth-favourites for the title according to local bookies, Sportingbet.

    The defending champion Hurricanes, currently second in the New Zealand Conference, have been installed as 5/2 favourites, while the Chiefs can be backed at 100/30.

    The seven-time champion Crusaders, who along with the Stormers are the only remaining unbeaten team this season, are next best at 4/1.

    The Lions, who lead Africa Conference 2 by a slender point from the Sharks (albeit having played one fewer match), are on offer at 15/2.

    The Highlanders, the 2015 winners, but only fourth at this stage in the New Zealand Conference, are next best at 9/1.

    The Stormers and Sharks have been bracketed together at 16/1.

    Such are the on-field difficulties currently blighting Australian rugby, the Brumbies, seven point leaders in the Australian Conference and thus guaranteed a home quarter-final in Canberra should the status quo remain, are on offer at 33/1 - along with the Blues and Jaguares.

    The Bulls (125/1), Cheetahs (500/1) and Kings' (1 000/1) odds reflect their respective 2017 Super Rugby seasons to date.

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, Forsyth Barr Stadium 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, AMI Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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