Highlanders vs Reds

It’s been a long wait to see NZ and Australia teams playing each other and let’s hope this match makes it worth the wait. The Reds were crowned Super Rugby AU champs last week and will want to show their wares against a NZ team that finished a lowly fourth in Super Rugby Aotearoa. This will show us the expected gulf between Aus. and NZ teams or maybe the Reds can show us why they are the champions. The Highlanders have a revamped backline and will miss the services of All Blacks Josh Ioane and Shannon Frizell. They will want to start the tournament with a victory as home wins are a must to have any chance for the finals. The Reds will want to show they are worthy champions and nothing but a win will convince everybody that Australian rugby is a force to be reckoned with. The Reds have had a dominant pack and this has brought them victory in many matches but they will need to find another way to win as the Highlanders boast a very powerful forward pack. Both these teams have not been fluent in attack but the Highlanders will look to their new players to provide that attacking spark and anything is possible when you have Aaron Smith at 9 and they will look to him to create try scoring opportunities. The Highlanders biggest weapon for many seasons has been their driving maul and if they can get it to fire then we could see a home victory.

TIP:  In Super Rugby AU we have seen the Reds with come from behind victories as they rely on their bench strength to destroy teams in the last 20 minutes. The Highlanders will not surrender in the last quarter as they have quality players on the bench. I see the Highlanders winning this encounter as they are well rested while the Reds were involved in a energy sapping final against the Brumbies. The most interesting battle will see Jona Nareki up against Filipo Daugunu on the wing as they are both try scoring machines and you feel the winner of this contest could decide the result in this match. The bookies have the Highlanders as favourites and I agree with this and the best odds on a Highlanders victory are at Worldsportsbetting 1.28, Playabets 1.24 and Sunbet 1.27


Highlanders vs Reds

  • In the last 5 meetings between these teams, there has been just one Reds victory.
  • The Highlanders have won four of the last five home matches against the Reds.
  • The last time the Reds beat the Highlanders away from home was in 2013.

Latest results for both teams

The Highlanders lost their last match against the Hurricanes 41-22 while the Reds beat the Brumbies 19-16 in their last match.


The Reds team is full with Wallaby players while the Highlanders don’t have many stars but are a workmanlike team but will sorely miss Shannon Frizell as he is the man that gives them the go forward ball. The Reds will need to find a way to stop the home teams maul and if they achieve this they are capable of causing an upset. The Highlanders have been the most inconsistent team, beating the Crusaders one week and then losing to the Hurricanes the next. They will need a home win to begin their campaign and I think they will win this very tight game by 3 points

  • Probable Starting XVs


15 Michael Collins, 14 Sam Gilbert, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Hugh Renton, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone


15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Filipo Daugunu , 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Jock Campbell, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika

Odds for this bet

The best odds on the Crusaders victory are:

Worldsportsbetting 1.28

Playabets 1.24

Sunbet 1.24

Odds comparison on a Reds handicap

The complete odds on the Reds handicaps are as follows:

Worldsportsbetting (+10.5) 1.80

Sunbet (+11.5) 1.73

Playabets (+9.5) 1.83

Predictions and Odds in details

The Highlanders are going to struggle in their backline as they have many changes so the battle up front will be the key to deciding this match. The Wallaby laden Reds will want to make a statement in this match and winning away from home will be the perfect start. Aaron Smith will again be the key to everything good that the Highlanders do and opposite number Sorovi will need to be at his best to keep Smith quiet. The Reds are starting their powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou on the bench and I think this is a tactical move by Coach Brad Thorn to bring him on when the Highlanders start tiring. The Highlanders have adopted a similar strategy by naming their first choice prop on the bench. We can expect a titanic but close battle for the 80 minutes therefore I’m tipping the Reds on the handicap. The best odds on the Reds handicap are as follows: Worldsportsbetting (+10.5) 1.80, Sunbet (+11.5) 1.73 and Playabets (+9.5) 1.83

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