To get to the final is much about momentum than anything else when it comes to the business end of Super Rugby and their are a few teams that are showing great form.
As we move into the first week of play-offs nobody will complain if the bookmakers are backing the New Zealand teams to advance to the next stage of the tournament with only the Lions that have shown again this year that they can go all the way.
In the first quarter final of the weekend we see the Brumbies hosting the Hurricanes on Friday and although the saying goes”Anything can happen in the play-offs” it will unfortunately not happen for the Brumbies.
The Aussie sides have been poor this year and even the Australian conference winner the Brumbies have not shown that they can scare any of the teams in the play-offs. More worrying for the Australian side is that their form this last two weeks have been poor as well and they are playing the current champions on Friday.
The only thing that is going for the Brumbies is that they are playing at home and will (hopefully) have more supporters at the stadium than the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes have shown that they are the one team that can again go all the way and have quality written all over the side, from number 1 to number 23.
The Hurricanes have top this years Super Rugby in most tries scored(89) and they have been deadly from broken play and turnovers is something you would not want to give to this Hurricanes team.
Praying for rain is almost all they Brumbies can do to maybe stand a change of winning this one and taking their log position, rightly so as well.
Can only see a Hurricanes win by at least 15 points.
The next quarter-final match will be an all New Zealand derby when the Crusaders host the Highlanders on Saturday morning. This is going to be a cracker and certainly not one to miss out on on. The Crusaders have been on top of the Super Rugby log until last weekend when they lost for the first time this year against the Hurricanes.
The end result is that they will gave up an easier run and a home final to the Lions who has ended on top of the overall log. The Highlanders are not the easiest team to play against and they have shown that they have a few game plans which have won them matches this season against good teams.
The Crusaders is a quality team and most properly the most conservative (if there is such a word in NewZealand rugby) of all the franchises there but they can score tries from anywhere and just don’t let up. They have one of the best set phases of all the teams in the competition and are one of the most balanced sides as well.
This one is difficult to call but have to go with the Saders by 10 points.
From the Crusaders and Highlanders we move to the next local derby match, this time in Johannesburg when the Lions take on the Sharks. The Lions have ended on top and will want to take the opportunity that has come their way and get the first win done and dusted against the Sharks.
Last week the two teams met in Durban and although it was not the Lions best game of the year they still beat the Sharks comfortable which will be a huge worry for the Sharks. The Lions are one of the most difficult teams to face at home and even without their captain Whiteley will not be easily beaten by any of the remaining teams.
They have so many game breakers and as with the Crusaders one of the most well balanced sides in the competition. The Lions struggled in the scrum last week and know that it is the one place where the Sharks will target them. When the two teams met earlier this year at Emirates Airline Park we witness one of the games of the season and most will want to see the same but we need to realistic and know that the Lions should be too strong for whatever the Sharks throw at them.
Lions will take this by 15 plus points at home.
The last quarter final will be at DHL Newlands when the Stormers will again take on the Chiefs. In the last two matches played between these two teams we saw the Chiefs running the Stormers off their feet in last years quarter final and during the season the Stormers had one of their best matches of the year when they surprise the Chiefs at Newlands.
The Chiefs is a quality side as all the New Zealand teams but have not dominated as they did previous years. The Stormers will take some believe into this match from the last time they meet but that frankly counts for nothing. The Chiefs also has all their big guns in the team and this will be a either a great contest or another runaway for the Chiefs.
That the Stormers have the quality to beat the Chiefs no one will question, but they have been so much hot and cold this year that you never know what team will pitch up. Defence have also not always been up to scratch and they will have to defend out of their skins if they want to win this game.
This will be a great game to end the weekends quarter finals and although I hope the Stormers will pull this one through, the head keep on saying Chiefs by 12 points atleast.
Who do you think will be the winners this weekend?