Predictions for an action packed weekend of Super Rugby

TODAY

CHIEFS (1st) V CRUSADERS (5th)

  • At Waikato Stadium, Hamilton 5.35pm
  • Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
  • Head-to-head: Played 20, Crusaders 14, Chiefs 6
  • In Hamilton: Played 9, Crusaders 6, Chiefs 3
  • Last time: Semi-finals 2012: Chiefs 20 beat Crusaders 17 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Motivation will not be lacking in this clash of the Kiwi giants.

The Chiefs' hard-fought victory over the Hurricanes last week sees the defending champion sitting pretty on top of both the overall and NZ Conference ladder.

Seven-time champion, the Crusaders, are hitting their straps after a slow start with impressive wins over the Brumbies and Blues.

Both have won their past four - something will have to give in this battle.

 

REBELS (12th) V WARATAHS (8th)

  • At AAMI Park, Melbourne 7.40pm
  • Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
  • Head-to-head: Played 5, Waratahs 5, Rebels 0
  • In Melbourne: Played 2, Waratahs 2, Rebels 0
  • Last time: R3 2013: Waratahs 31 beat Rebels 26 at Allianz Stadium, Sydney

The Waratahs are mounting a late charge towards the play-offs after winning their past three, including the impressive victory over the Brumbies last week.

However, the Rebels won't be lacking in confidence after sending the Stormers packing.

Whether that is enough to carry them to their first victory over the Tahs remains to be see.

Should be high-scoring 80 minutes as both sides have backs who love to attack.

 

TOMORROW

BLUES (6th) V BRUMBIES (3rd)

  • At Eden Park, Auckland 5.35pm
  • Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
  • Head-to-head: Played 18, Blues 11, Brumbies 7
  • In Auckland: Played 10, Blues 7, Brumbies 3
  • Last time: R18 2012: Blues 30 beat Brumbies 16 at Canberra Stadium, Canberra

Victory is vital to both sides in this one.

The Blues need to bounce back from last week's defeat against the Crusaders, while the Brumbies won't want to suffer a third consecutive defeat with the playoffs on the horizon.

The Blues have only lost once at home this season, and with the Brumbies suffering a dip in form they will have to be right at the top of their game if they are going to win.

The absence of the injured George Smith won't help the Brumbies cause.

 

FORCE (14th) V HIGHLANDERS (15th)

  • At NIB Stadium, Perth 7.40pm
  • Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
  • Head-to-head: Played 6, Force 4, Highlanders 2
  • In Perth: Played 2, Force 1, Highlanders 1
  • Last time: R16 2011: Force 21 beat Highlanders 14 at Carisbrook, Dunedin

This is the battle to avoid the wooden spoon, but the sad thing for the Highlanders is the Force still has a bye in hand.

The West Australians have caused all their opposition more than a few problems in home games already this year.

The Force missed an opportunity to secure a third win of the season after losing to the injury-hit Sharks last week, but will be keen to make amends against a side well beaten by the Bulls a week ago.

Tough to see the Kiwis winning this one.

 

SOUTHERN KINGS (13th) V CHEETAHS (7th)

  • At Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth 11pm
  • Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
  • Head-to-head: Played 1, Cheetahs 1, Kings 0
  • In Port Elizabeth: N/A
  • Last time: R11 2013: Cheetahs 26 beat Kings 12 at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

The Cheetahs feel they should have won by a lot more last month - now they have the chance to rectify that.

The Cheetahs proved they are legitimate playoff contenders after beating the Reds last week, and now the challenge is to break into the top six.

The Kings will battle bravely, but the Cheetahs will have too much firepower in attack for the competition newcomers.

 

SUNDAY

STORMERS (11th) V REDS (4th)

  • At Newlands, Cape Town 1.05am
  • Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
  • Head-to-head: Played 16, Stormers 9, Reds 7
  • In Cape Town: Played 7, Stormers 5, Reds 2
  • Last time: R9 2012: Stormers 23 beat Reds 13 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

The Stormers have lost three in a row, but they were all on the road in Australasia.

Now they are home and will be sure to test the Reds.

In their four home games this season, the Stormers have lost just once, by five points to the Crusaders.

They have also dispatched the top two (Chiefs and Brumbies).

The Reds know what it is like to win at Newlands, having done so in 2011, and will be keen to end a three-game losing streak on African soil.

 

SHARKS (10th) V BULLS (2nd)

  • At Kings Park, Durban 3.10am
  • Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
  • Head-to-head: Played 20, Bulls 10, Sharks 8, Drawn 2
  • In Durban: Played 10, Bulls 5, Sharks 4, Drawn 1
  • Last time: R17 2012: Sharks 32 beat Bulls 10 at Kings Park, Durban

They ended a five-game losing streak last week, but the Sharks will find it hard to make it two from two against the Bulls who have not been beaten since the round seven defeat against the Brumbies.

Despite their injury woes this season, the Sharks still have a capable, Springbok-laden side.

It is hard to see them getting over a Bulls team which continues to benefit from a game plan built around forward power and the kicking ability of Morne Steyn.

Bye: Hurricanes (9th) *All times AEST
 


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