Super Rugby Aotearoa round 1: Highlanders v Crusaders betting tips, odds

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Welcome to our Highlanders v Crusaders free betting predictions for the opening clash of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, on Friday, February 26. 

This match pits the two South Island teams against each other, but it is no surprise the Christchurch-based Crusaders are hot favourites with the bookies to win this match and also the Super Rugby Aotearoa title.

The Crusaders are of course the most successful franchise in world rugby and have won 10 Super Rugby titles, as well as landing the reduced NZ Super Rugby title last season, dropping only one match along the way.

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The Crusaders have won nine of their past 10 matches against the Highlanders, and last season won the two contests 40-20 and 32-22. They have their captain, All Blacks lock Scott Barrett, back from a foot injury that forced him to miss all of their 2020 campaign. 

Former All Blacks star Tony Brown has been named Highlanders head coach this season, after being assistant to Aaron Mauger. The team last season won only three of their eight matches in this tournament.

How does Super Rugby work this season?

With South Africa out of the equation, the Super Rugby season has three components: Super Rugby AU (Australian regional tournament), Super Rugby Aotearoa (New Zealand regional tournament), then the combined Super Rugby Trans-Tasman (starting May 14).

Highlanders v Crusaders teams

Highlanders team

15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Connor Garden-Bachop, 13 Ngantungane Punivai, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (cc); 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Regan, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (cc), 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown. Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Hugh Renton.

Crusaders team

15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall; 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (c), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Chay Fihaki.

Continue reading for our free Highlanders v Crusaders tips for the opening Super Rugby Aotearoa match in Dunedin on Friday, February 26. 

Highlanders v Crusaders odds

Head to head odds: Highlanders $2.80, Crusaders $1.43
Handicap betting: Highlanders (+6.5 points) $1.90, Crusaders (-6.5 points) $1.90
Super Rugby Aotearoa title betting: Crusaders $1.83, Blues $4.33, Hurricanes $7, Highlanders $8, Chiefs $8.50.

Highlanders v Crusaders betting tips

Our rugby tipster has examined the odds and found several Highlanders v Crusaders tips for the round 1 Super Rugby Aotearoa clash.

Crusaders -6.5 points at $1.90

To be honest we expected the Crusaders to be conceding a bigger start than 6.5 points and feel they can cover that line comfortably, even allowing for some early rust from both teams.

Sevu Reece first try-scorer at $8

The Fiji-born All Blacks flyer really knows how to find himself in the right spot at the right time. This is always something of a lottery, trying to pick the first try-scorer, but Reece scores almost every time he plays so we will back him in to get his season off to the perfect start.

Highlanders v Crusaders prediction 26/2/2021

You just know the Crusaders are not going to take their foot off the pedal. There are no dead matches for them and you can be sure they will be ready to go. Playing at home is a great boost for the Highlanders, who are also a young and improving team. But while we expect they will have made up some ground on the better teams in Super Rugby, they may still be some way off the gold standard of the Crusaders. Our final Highlanders v Crusaders prediction? Crusaders by 12 points.

Highlanders v Crusaders Super Rugby Aotearoa details

How can I watch Super Rugby Aotearoa matches in 2021?

In New Zealand: Sky Sport.

How can I watch Super Rugby Aotearoa matches outside New Zealand?

Australia: Stan Sports. South Africa/Africa: SuperSport. United Kingdom: RugbyPass.

What time does the Highlanders v Crusaders match start?

The game starts at 7.05 local time (5.05pm AEDT) on February 26, 2021.

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