The past two weeks we have been almost as bad in our predictions as the South African teams has been in the competition.
It is the last week of the regular season and there are some teams that are still fighting for a place in the playoff spot.
From a South African point of view we have the Stormers and the Bulls that have not made it and the Sharks that are hoping that some teams do them a favour.
In right respect we only have the Lions that give us some hope. It is not that they have been playing the world on fire this year but atleast we have a team in the playoffs.
It just do not sound right that but that is what it is.
Here is the current log standings…
This weeks games kick off again on Friday…
Friday 13 July
Chiefs v Hurricanes 08:30
The Hurricanes was the early dominating team but the have been struggling in some matches in the last half of the season.
Some of it was due to some players out with injuries but they are still a team that can take it this year.
They should be on track for a home quarter final and it will take the Chiefs to beat them with 45 points or more to take that away from them.
Although the Chiefs have been playing some great rugby of late one can not see that happening against the Hurricanes.
The Chiefs have won three of their last four matches with the Hurricanes that cropped of three losses in the last four outings.
The Chiefs will also have to cope playing without Cane, Wainui and Harrison who is al out due to injury.
The Chiefs are also resting McKenzie and Jacobson with Tu’inukuafe and Messam playing of the bench.
This will be other great New Zealand battle with both teams having great attacking players and there defence up with the best teams in the competition.
Prediction: Hurricanes by 8
Chiefs – 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Charlie Ngatai (c), 11 Shaun Stevenson, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Jesse Parete, 7 Mitch Karpik, 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Tiaan Falcon, 23 Johnny Fa’auli.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Wes Goosen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Gareth Evans, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Julian Savea.
Reds v Sunwolves 11:45
Both teams are just finishing there season as they are part of the bottom dwellers on the log.
It has not been a great season for both teams although the Sunwolves will be happy with the fact that they have won 3 matches this season.
For the Reds it was always going to be a year to re-build with new players and a new coach.
There has been some close games for both sides which they could have easily have won but at this stage they are just not good enough to compete for playoff spots.
The Sunwolves will be looking at their first away win but they will have to make sure that they get their defence better organise.
They have been great on attack this year and have scored some brilliant tries but defence have been a huge problem for them.
It will be interesting to see how these two teams end their season and who will take the win at the end
Prediction: Reds by 13 points
Reds – 15 Jono Lance, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Liam Wright, 6 Caleb Timu, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Adam Korczyk, 22 Moses Sorovi, 23 Teti Tela.
Sunwolves – 15 Jason Emery, 14 Yoshikazu Fujita, 13 Michael Little, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Yutaka Nagare (c), 8 Willie Britz, 7 Edward Quirk, 6 Michael Leitch, 5 Wimpie van der Walt, 4 James Moore, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Craig Millar.
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Kazuki Himeno, 20 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryoto Nakamura
Saturday 14 July
Highlanders v Rebels 07:15
This is the game that the Sharks and their supporters will be watching and hoping the Highlanders do them the favour that will give them a change in the playoffs.
If the Highlanders beat the Rebels they Sharks just need to win later in the day against the Jaguares side who has already qualified.
The Highlanders have made a few changes for this match with Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock and Elliot Dixon being rested.
This gives the Rebels a real change in getting their first win in Dunedin. If they beat the Highlanders the Rebels will qualify for the first time in their history.
The Highlanders is not easy to beat at home and the Rebels will have to be on par on defence to win this one.
We know the ability on attack for the Rebels and they can rip through teams defence but their defence have not been great.
They will also have to make sure not to give away easy penalties or cards as New Zealand teams punish you hard on mistakes.
Winger Waisake Naholo, centre Tei Walden and No 8 Liam Squire will be key for the Highlanders this Saturday.
This will be a massive game for more than one reason.
Prediction: Rebels to end Sharks changes…Rebels by 9
Highlanders – 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Liam Squire, 7 James Lentjes (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seuili.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Matt Faddes, 23 Josh McKay.
Rebels – 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English (c), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talaki, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Lopeti Timani.
Crusaders v Blues 09:35
This is a nothing match as the Crusaders and defending champions have already secure the top spot in the New Zealand conference and overall log.
They have been by far again the best team in the competition and are the team to beat this year.
With the prospect of playing all the knockout games at home one find it difficult to see any other team than the Crusaders to lift the trophy on August the forth.
Coach Robertson have picked a strong team for their last outing to maintain the great momentum they have.
The Blues have not won in Christchurch for 14 years and this Saturday will be no different as they have dominated in all aspects on the game this year.
The Blues have some great players in their team but they have yet again failed to play consistently as a team together.
The Blues defence has also been poor this season and against the Saders one can expect a runaway game again.
Saw on twitter last week some asked if we cannot just give the trophy to the Crusaders and end the season….I agree with that statement.
Prediction: Crusaders with an easy +15 points
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makali, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Sam Anderson-Heather, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Donald Brighouse, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ben Nee-Nee, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Tamati Tua.
Waratahs v Brumbies 11:45
Jeez these Aussie derbies are difficult to predict. The Waratahs have atleast played better this year as a team but sometimes you wonder who will pitch up for the game.
The Tahs are assured of the top spot in the Aussie conference with the Brumbies almost assured to miss out.
The Brumbies have just been too inconsistent and although they have played some good rugby at stages, they never looked like a championship team.
The Waratahs come every year with a great group of players but fail to make an impact in the competition. This year however they manage to find their way.
Although not perfect this Tahs side have the ability to upset any team in this competition.
They have found form with their international players and are a threat for the playoffs.
They do pitch up some days looking like a school side but it seems that they have found their way again this year.
The Brumbies will just be playing for pride and will want to end the season on a high. It was not the easiest season for the Brumbies but they are starting the form that won them the title in the past.
The Tahs have won the early game between these two sides 24-17 and won the last eight matches against Aussie sides.
Although the Brumbies lost their last four derbies the games have been close affairs.
David Pocock have been massive for the Brumbies and has won 19 turnovers in just 9 matches.
He will play a massive role in the Brumbies team and the Waratahs will have to look at him closely.
Prediction: Tahs by +10 points
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Alex Newsome.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Blake Enever, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Faingaa, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Les Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Lausii Taliauli.
Lions v Bulls 15:00
Although this match will not have the same impact as if the Bulls was still fighting for a playoff spot but the Lions and their supporters will want to get momentum for the playoffs.
The Lions can still loose their top spot in the South African conference if the Jagaures win their match against the Sharks and the Bulls upset the Lions in Johannesburg.
It will not be an easy game either for the Lions as the Bulls can come with an upset to end their season with a win.
At the end the Lions have their own destiny in their own hands and if they want to win the title they need to start with a win against the Bulls this weekend.
The Bulls have been disappointing this season and although the season was always going to be a year of re-building.
The Bulls have been as poor in some games as they have been good and much more were expected from them.
They were strongly in the run for a playoff spot halfway through the season but the wheels came off when they started to get injuries to key players.
One wanted the Bulls to step up in most of the games and they lost games that they should have won which did not help them.
The Lions have shown throughout the season that they will be our strongest team again but they have been disappointing under coach Swys de Bruin.
As if it was not enough that they lost their inspirational coach last year, they also lost Jaco Kriel for the whole season and had to do without Whiteley for most.
Their are also a bunch of players who will be leaving the Lions at the end of the season which points to another rebuild year next year.
We need the Lions to step up on Saturday and win big against the Bulls.
Prediction: Lions by 12 points
Sharks v Jaguares 17:00
By the time the Sharks run out in Durban against the Jaguares they will know if they will play for something or just for pride.
The Sharks are the South African Waratahs, having great players in their squad but every year they disappoint on the field.
The Sharks have only themselves to blame for being in this position and have thrown away too many games this season and especially at home.
You need to win your home games and the Sharks have failed yet again this year in doing that.
In some way one almost want to say they do not deserve a spot in the playoffs.
The Jaguares have been absolutely brilliant this year. They have manage to get the negative play out of their game which cost them them the last two seasons.
They are playing a New Zealand type of game which punish teams on their mistakes and have scored allot of tries on turnovers.
Their attack has been as good as the top teams and they have come a long way in their defence.
Although they have already qualified for the playoffs they will want to get a win over the Sharks to stay in the winning culture.
Last week was not a good game for the Argentinian team as the Bulls surprised them on the rush defence. This closed down the space they need to use their attacking players.
The Sharks will do good to take one from Bulls and sharpen their defence this weekend.
It is a lottery really to pick a winner but with so much at stake one can expect a hard crunching match.
The Sharks have some injury worries and they will have to step up big time come Saturday.
Prediction: Jaguares by 12
With the season almost done one needs to reflect the state of the Super Rugby competition and we will talk about that next week.
For now we have the Lions that should end top of South African conference and the Sharks that will maybe make it. All in all not good enough.
Here is the full schedule for this weekends matchs: