Last week here on BetPreviews we looked at the antepost betting for the Aviva Premiership and now it’s time to look at the Celtic Nations, with the first week of the Rabodirect Pro 12 set to get underway. The action kicks off on Friday evening and as was the case with the Aviva, there are several different markets worth looking at.
To Win the Grand Final
From the point of view of the players, this is the only market that counts. Needless to say Heineken Cup champions Leinster are the preseason favourites, while the Ospreys and Munster are hot on their heels in the betting market. Leinster make plenty of appeal for obvious reasons, not least the depth of talent in the squad and the relatively good age profile contained therein. However even if they do reach the playoffs – and they are long odds on to do so – chances are they will face another two tough fixtures at the end of a long hard season. It’s not clear that 6/4 is good value here.
What we can say for certain is that Munster have undergone way too much upheaval, while even the Ospreys look to have taken a step backwards, personnel-wise. There are too many question marks around these sides to justify the current odds.
Instead, our preference would be for Ulster at 8/1. The Northerners might struggle in the early stages with players like Ruan Pienaar and Stephen Ferris out injured, but they have some fine young prospects and they’re clearly improving with every passing year. They have a lot more upside at a much more attractive price.
To Win the Regular Season
In this instance, backing Leinster is definitely the way to go. They are the best team in the league by a long way and while they might get caught in a one off knockout fixture, over the course of 22 games, they should be able to top the table. BetVictor are out on their own at 6/5 about Leinster topping the table and when we allow for the fact that they were a full ten points clear last year, we certainly would give them at least an even money chance of finishing on top of the pile yet again.
To Reach the Playoffs
We can afford to cast the net a bit wider here and what we’ve come back with is a suggestion that the Llanelli Scarlets could be a good team to keep onside. The Scarlets have an electrifying back division who can create tries out of nothing, while new head coach Simon Easterby has an excellent rugby brain as well as an innate understanding of how things work at Parc Y Scarlets. Several bookies are laying 5/2 about this outcome and of all the Welsh sides, they look like by far the most appealing from a value perspective.
Grand Final: Ulster @ 8/1, 1pt e/w stake (1/3 1-2)
Regular Season: Leinster @ 6/5, 3pt stake (1/4 1-2-3)
To Reach the Playoffs: Scarlets @ 5/2, 2pt stake
Profit/Loss to date: +0 points (tracking started from Friday Aug 10th 2012; 4 points staked*, 0% ROI)
(*Note 11.5pts in total staked on antepost markets still running including today)