Betting on the Rugby Championship match between Australia and South Africa being a close affair is more appealing than trying to pick the winner of the Suncorp Stadium showdown.
With Australia trading at odds of 2.88 with Ladbrokes to win by one to 10 points and South Africa available at odds of 3.75 with the same bookmaker to win by the same margin, one can get the equivalent of 1.63 about either the Wallabies or the Springboks winning the game by fewer than 10 points.
Australia has not impressed in its first two matches under Ewen McKenzie but the new Wallabies coach does seem to have made the right selection decisions ahead of his team’s home match against South Africa, electing to start Quade Cooper at five-eighth and Israel Folau at fullback. Cooper has a terrific record playing for Australia versus South Africa – seven wins from nine games, including victories in each of his last five matches against the Springboks – and Folau’s repositioning should ensure that he gets his hands on the ball much more frequently than he did versus New Zealand.
Unfortunately, Australia has been hit by the loss of its skipper and pack leader, James Horwill, who will miss its next two games after straining his left hamstring during a training session. Australia halfback Will Genia will fill Horwill’s shoes in the captaincy role and not miss a beat but the Wallabies may struggle at line-out and scrum time without their towering lock. Neither Kane Douglas nor Rob Simmons has set the international rugby union world alight and South Africa will fancy its chance of getting on top in the tight forward exchanges because of Horwill’s absence.
Just as Australia has positives and negatives, so does South Africa. The positives for South Africa include that it has the best current winning streak in the Test arena having been victorious in each of its last nine matches. But the negatives for South Africa include the dreadful record of the Springboks on the east coast of Australia, particularly in Brisbane. South Africa has lost all its eight games in the Queensland capital since the end of the apartheid era.
On paper for this Rugby Championship clash, South Africa may have the slightest of edges over Australia but, with the Wallabies enjoying home advantage at what the record books suggest is their preferred ground, bookmakers are probably right to be listing McKenzie’s men as marginal favourites.
Rather than backing Australia at odds of 1.67 with William Hill to beat South Africa, play with Ladbrokes on the two aforementioned winning margins at a similar dutched price. The results of this season’s Super Rugby matches between Australian and South African franchises in Australia point to a very close Test. Only one of the 11 games was won by more than 10 points, with the average winning margin being just 1.55 points in favour of Australian sides. Five of the matches were either drawn or won by fewer than four points.
New Zealand hosts Argentina in the other Rugby Championship match scheduled for Saturday 7 September 2013. New Zealand is prohibitively priced to maintain its 100 per cent record in this year’s tournament, with the no-tie handicaps ranging from 26.5 to 28.5 points. Argentina made life hard for New Zealand in last term’s corresponding fixture when conditions in Wellington favoured the Pumas. Rain is forecast to hit Hamilton during this season’s encounter, which means that Argentina may be worth a small bet against the spread.
It is early days but the controversial new scrum laws seem to be made for Argentina because of the emphasis that they place on the second push, something at which the Pumas have been excellent for years and years. New Zealand will win but it may struggle to beat Argentina by more than 28.5 points.