SUPER RUGBY QUALIFIERS
Highlanders v Chiefs
The Highlanders, along with the Hurricanes, are the form side of the competition and this is going to be a very tough prospect for the visiting Chiefs who have suffered badly with injuries all season and I can't help but feel that will finally take its toll here.
Both sides have match-winners throughout their team but it's the Highlanders half-back / fly half combination of Aaron Smith / Sopoanga who have been consistently brilliant for them all season and along with Ben Smith's superb ability to read the game at full back and Feketoa's speed and power in the centres the Highlanders have the edge on the Chiefs. One concern for the Highlanders will be limiting Sam Canes influence at the breakdown but a strength of theirs has been ball retention so I don't see that being a big point of difference in the game, meanwhile the Highlanders set-pieces have been strong and they're unlikely to be ambushed in this department by the solid Chiefs pack.
This is the first home play-off game to be played in Dunedin for well over a decade and a sell-out crowd is imminent which will provide the home side with further motivation. Back the settled Highlanders to cover the start on offer against a Chiefs side who have battled to put out a consistent team all season. Pick – 3 units on Highlanders -3.5 point start (BEST BET)
Stormers v Brumbies
The Brumbies will take some confidence from the fact they travelled to Cape Town last month and lost by just one point, outscoring the Stormers by two tries to one, they'll be even more buoyed knowing inspirational Stormers no.8 and captain Vermeulen won't be playing.
Both sides go into this off a loss but I can't help but feel the Brumbies hit-out against a fast finishing Crusaders side will have them in better stead for this do or die clash and despite the demands of travel I like them to come away with the win. The Brumbies for mine just have a touch more flare to their backline with Lealiifano a dangerous running fly half whose unpredictability is one of his strengths, and he's got a tonne of talent outside him who are all capable of cracking this Stormers defence.
The absence of Vermeulen in the forwards for the Stormers evens things up in that department which isn't good for them as their attack so often depends on the platform laid by their often dominant forward pack and up against the best defensive team in the competition points could well be at a premium. We'll take a bite at the good value on the Brumbies to win in the margins. Pick – 2 units on Brumbies to win by 12 points and under
WEEK RESULTS STAKES ROI BEST BET Grand Final
Finals Week Two
Finals Week One