SUPER RUGBY QUARTER-FINALS
Brumbies v Hurricanes
Finally, finals football. In what seems like it's taken an age to get to, we are at the business end of the competition. The first game will be in a chilly Canberra where the mercury is set to drop to -6 overnight before the game.
The Brumbies are coming off a loss to the Chiefs last week, though they've made a host of changes to their side this week and should be better for it. The Hurricanes broke the Crusaders winning streak last week and are in a touch of form running into the playoffs.
The Brumbies have won their last 3 home games against the Hurricanes with a 52-10 drubbing to the Brumbies early last year the big eye opener. Earlier this year the Hurricanes got revenge with a 56-21 win at home to the Brumbies.
The Brumbies are 3-4 at home this year and all four of those losses were by a margin of 7 points of less, suggesting the Brumbies are always in the contest. The Hurricanes are 5-2 in away games this season.
The Brumbies have been pretty competitive against NZ sides this year (though losing all of the games), they've lost to the Chiefs by 18, lost to the Blues by 6, lost to the Highlanders by 5 and lost to the Crusaders by 4.
Although the Brumbies have been competitive in home games this year I think the Hurricanes will run riot. They have the power in the forwards and the potency in the backline to put a fair few points on the board.
Crusaders v Highlanders
The battle of the south. The Highlanders, the little brother to the Crusaders always punches above their weight in this clash and always have a red hot crack.
The Crusaders beat the Highlanders in two mighty encounters this year, both by 3 points. The Highlanders botched the first game and should really have won it but the Crusaders stormed home late scoring two tries in the final 4 mins to secure victory.
The Crusaders have been incredible at home this season. They've managed to win all games at home and have averaged 35 points per game at their home stadium. On the other side the Highlanders are 5-2 on the road, a very good record.
The Highlanders welcome back Ben Smith and Aaron Smith to the fold and they should add some extra flair and accuracy to the Highlanders. While the Crusaders have named a star studded side including ten All Blacks.
Not too confident in tipping up anything for this one so we'll leave this out.
Lions v Sharks
These two teams played last week with the Lions coming out on top in Durban 27-10. What a year the Lions have had winning their last 12 games to take the Minor Premiership title and the possibility to host the final this season providing they win their next two games.
The Lions have won the last 5 games against the Sharks including a couple of big margins including last weeks 17, 27 points, and 15 points. They've really had the wood over them the last few years. The Sharks are 3-4 away this season.
An interesting statistic is the Lions lowest score at home this season is 24 points. They've averaged a massive 51 points per game at home this season. A couple of big wins against the Sunwolves and Kings pushed that up, but they also racked up half tons against the Bulls and Waratahs at home.
I really think the Lions will put the Sharks away in this game and will beat the handicap.
Stormers v Chiefs
The Stormers come of a pretty good win against the Bulls last week while the Chiefs beat the Brumbies as earlier mentioned.
This is a repeat of last seasons quarter final where the Chiefs dealt to the Stormers in Cape Town 60-21. The Stormers did beat the Chiefs this year in Cape Town 34-26 though.
The Chiefs have won 3 of the last 4 against the Stormers and the last four games between these two sides have averaged 64.5 points per game.
Stormers have only lost 1 game at home this season, to the Lions while the Chiefs have only lost 1 away game this year, to the Stormers.
I think the Bulls record of late is a bit misleading. Yes, they've won 4 of their last 5 but they were against Bulls, Sunwolves, Cheetahs and Blues. Prior to that, they had lost 5 games to the Sharks, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Crusaders and Lions. The only strong team they've beat this season is arguably the Chiefs and I think the Chiefs would have learned well from that match.
I think the Chiefs should win this one, but it will be close and fairly high scoring. We might have a look at the points on Saturday.
RESULTS STAKES ROI Final +3 3 100% Semi Finals -0.77 6.5 -12% Quarter Finals +2.94 9 33% Week Seventeen -1.2 11 -11% Week Sixteen -3.3 9 -37% Week Fifteen +0.52 19.5 3% Week Fourteen -16 16 -100% Week Thirteen +3.81 13.5 28% Week Twelve +2.71 17.5 15% Week Eleven -2.9 11 -26% Week Ten -0.35 14 -3% Week Nine -5.52 13 -42% Week Eight +6.77 12 56% Week Seven +7.8 9 87% Week Six +15.46 13 119% Week Five +1.61 10 16% Week Four -2.24 8 -28% Week Three -10 10 -100% Week Two +4.9 8 61% Week One -4.15 13.5 -31% Futures +5.7 10 57% Total +8.79 226.5 4%