This weekend of Super Rugby will be the first round of the post-season with teams competing to continue to the semi-finals a week later.
Brumbies v Chiefs, Canberra, Saturday
Defending champions Chiefs will travel to Canberra to take on the in-form Brumbies in the first finals game of the year, and a rematch from last year’s grand final. The Brumbies are favourites to eliminate the Chiefs from the competition. Winning back-to-back titles was a great achievement by the Waikato based side but the odds are stacked against them to win three competitions in a row. The Chiefs scraped into the finals series and haven’t been anywhere near their best this year. The Brumbies are coming off a great performance against the Western Force and have close to a full strength squad available to them. When you have a bench that features Fotu Auelua, Joe Tomane and Pat McCabe, you know you have depth. The Chiefs are also nearly at full-strength but the squad they have available are not playing their best and they will have to be very good to beat the Brumbies in Canberra.
Newsroom’s prediction: Brumbies by 8
Sharks v Highlanders, Durban, Sunday
The Highlanders are in wretched form and will be playing away to the intimidating Sharks in South Africa and they will certainly be up against it this weekend. The Sharks finished in third place and have only lost one game at home this season so you can not help but lock in the Sharks for close to a certain victory this weekend. But stranger things have happened, and the Highlanders will be relishing their underdog status. For the Highlanders to have any chance at victory, they will need All Blacks flyer and co-captain Ben Smith to be cleared from injury to take part in this encounter. The Sharks might also risk bringing back Springboks playmaker Pat Lambie for this do-or-die match.
Newsroom’s prediction: Sharks by 19 – Louis Dillon
Top photo from Jonno Simpson’s Twitter page.