On The Punt is a new weekly betting column from one of New Zealand's most successful sports punters, Pistol Pete.
Super Rugby might be a mere shadow of the competition which ushered in professional rugby 20-something years ago, but it still offers more than its fair share of decent betting opportunities for the professional and recreational punter.
Back in the mid-1990s, you could argue that the (then) Super 12 was the toughest rugby competition in either code, and there's no doubt the team that won the first two titles, the Auckland Blues, were the best team in world rugby.
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Those days are, of course, just a distant memory for Blues supporters (both of them) and in the last decade or so it has been left to the mighty Chiefs to lead the northern charge for the coveted symbol of supremacy.
It looked like the tide might be turning on that front last week when the Blues took a 19-5 halftime lead against the Chiefs at Eden Park, but the visitors responded in no uncertain terms by running in five tries in the second half to clinch a 37-29 victory.
This weekend the task looks much tougher for the Chief, as they host perennial contenders and three-time defending champions the Crusaders in Hamilton.
Scott Robertson's side kicked off their campaign with a convincing 43-25 win over the Waratahs in Nelson, but they will be mindful of the last time they faced the Chiefs in Hamilton - back in round 16 last season.
That night the Chiefs handed the Crusaders one of only two defeats they suffered all season as they came from 19-20 down at halftime to win 40-27.
The TAB are obviously expecting a titanic tussle between two of the competition's heavyweights and they can barely split them in the betting, with the Crusaders narrow favourites at 1.80 ahead of the Chiefs at 2.00.
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Punters who have a strong fancy head-to-head should definitely place their bet online with the TAB, as they will get a free bet to the same value if the team they back loses by eight or fewer.
Despite the fact the last two matches have been blowouts, this is still an offer worth taking advantage of for a couple of reasons: local derbies in this competition are usually hard-fought affairs as the teams and players are so familiar with each other, and the fact that losing teams get a bonus point if they lose by 7 or fewer greatly increases the chances of a "back door cover" where teams trailing by 10 or fewer get the last score to grab a bonus point.
For that reason my favourite line to bet teams in play in Super Rugby is +7.5, because if a team is down by 8, 9 or 10 late in the game and get awarded a penalty, they will take the kick in an effort to secure the bonus point.
With the TAB prop prices not yet released as I write this, there are no standouts worth recommending at this stage, but I would recommend taking the same bet we collected on in the Superbowl if the price is acceptable.
Of the eight first-round matches, the second half was the highest scoring in six of them, so I would be happy taking that option again in any of the games this weekend if you can get 1.80 or better.
Chiefs v Crusaders Highest scoring half: SECOND HALF (at 1.84 or better)