The Sunwolves host the Blues in Tokyo in Round 9 of Super Rugby on Saturday. The Blues start as firm favourites on the handicap but that was also the case when they came unstuck at this venue last season.
Sunwolves v Blues, Saturday 14th April, Tokyo, KO 05:05 (South African time)
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Refs: Shuhei Kubo, Tasuku Kawahara
TMO : Minoru Fuji
The Sunwolves went down 50-29 to the Waratahs in Tokyo last week and they remain without a win in 6 attempts this season. They have conceded at least 5 tries in every game so far and the Tahs ran in 7 last week to help them cover a handicap which had been set in the mid teens. One earlier meeting with New Zealand opposition this season saw the Sunwolves hammered 61-10 in a home fixture against the Chiefs in Round 6.
The Sunwolves have earned just two losing bonus points this season, a 32-25 home defeat to the Brumbies in Round 2 and a 40-38 loss to a misfiring Lions side in Johannesburg in Round 5.
One source of encouragement for the Sunwolves comes from the only previous meeting with the Blues which saw them pull off a surprise victory at this stadium in Round 17 last season.
The Blues were edged out 21-19 by the Chiefs in Hamilton last week and their record now comprises of 1 win and 5 defeats. They have earned losing bonus points in 3 of their 5 defeats this season and their only win in the current campaign came away to the Lions (38-35) in Johannesburg in Round 4. Since then the Blues lost heavily away to the Stormers and at home to the Sharks and calling their handicaps has been no easy task for punters.
The Blues remain bottom of the NZ Conference, 7 points shy of the fourth placed Highlanders who have played 1 game fewer.
Sunwolves – 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Michael Little, 11 Lomano Lemeki , 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Kazuki Himeno , 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 James Moore, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Craig Millar.
Subs:16 Jaba Bregvadse, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Nikoloz Khatiashvili, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 William Tupou
Blues – 15 Michael Collins, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Matt Duffie, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru; 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Subs: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Ben Neenee , 20 Dalton Papali'i, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane.
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2017 Tokyo Sunwolves 48-21 Blues (Tries 8-3)
Sunwolves +19.5 points at 9/10 WSB
Blues -16.5 points at 9/10 Hollywood
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
Every now and again the Sunwolves pop up with a logic defying performance that makes a mockery of handicaps but for me it doesn’t happen often enough to back the plus with any confidence. That said the Blues can be very unpredictable in how they go about their matchday’s and are not ones to trust with the housekeeping.
With a degree of guy feel and an eye on the current differences in the main handicap lines, the plus gets a tentative vote.
Bet. 2.5 units Sunwolves +19.5 points at 9/10 WSB
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