It's time for us to put our head on the block and give you Planet Rugby's calls for Saturday's final regular-season round of Super Rugby.
It's time for us to put our head on the block and give you Planet Rugby's predictions for this Saturday's final regular-season week of Super Rugby.
Blues v Chiefs
Mid-table campers the Blues are much better off than last year's hideous campaign and are capable of an upset against the Chiefs at home. It would take an extravagant performance to truly hammer the 2012 champions but the visitors arrive off the back of a hiding at the Crusaders.
While they possess real attacking quality, the Chiefs have demonstrated on numerous occasions that they can grind out victories and that is what we expect on Saturday. Concurrently the Chiefs by 1-12 points margin at 17/2 is probably the safest bet against a Blues side that has lost by seven points six times this season.
Otherwise, given his outstanding form all season, the first try-scorer odds on soon-to-be Montpellier man Rene Ranger are difficult to ignore at 16/1 – likewise for Chiefs outside centre Tim Nanai-Williams at 14/1, who is this week back from shrugging off an injury.
Waratahs v Reds
No Israel Folau or Adam Ashley-Cooper in the backs for the 'Tahs undermines their backline significantly, making the Reds hot favourites for this one after their recent run of good form. They might be without James Horwill and Will Genia in terms of leadership, but Nick Frisby can play and with Quade Cooper out to prove a large point to new Australia boss Ewen McKenzie, he should go well. Reds by 13 or more appeals due to its high 5/1 price.
Don't write the 'Tahs off completely though. Peter Betham caused the Lions all sorts of problems two weeks ago and as a first try-scorer at 10/1 merits some attention. Reds finisher Luke Morahan is a class act so him to score two or more at 11/1 is tasty.
Western Force v Brumbies
Unsurprisingly given their vastly different league positions – remember when the Brumbies were struggling near the bottom of the table? – the Force are rank outsiders against the Brumbies on a +9.0 handicap, at 7/2 to win by 1-12 and 11/1 by more than 13 points. Stranger things have happened..but this? Perhaps after a misguided decision to rest top players to face the Lions before being beaten by a second-string Waratahs side at home, the Force may be bristling and out to answer some critics. Their XV is back to first-choice.
If the form book is accurate though, then the Brumbies by 21-25 points at 8/1 is certainly worth considering. The miracle of the Force to score first, lead at half-time and win at 9/1 if you are feeling adventurous is an option but we prefer Jesse Mogg to score anytime at 15/8.
Sharks v Southern Kings
With the Kings choosing to rest a whole host of players ahead of their promotion/relegation clash, this contest holds the largest handicap of the round. 23 points is what was settled upon and the Sharks will be desperate to better that, thus ending a poor term on a high.
The Sharks' season record is seven wins to eight defeats and surely they will level things up at eight each in Durban. Last week versus the Bulls, the back-row of Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel and Marcell Coetzee came out on top against their rivals and this week it's set to be a good evening for the latter duo and returning eight Keegan Daniel. We believe Daniel is an excellent shout to score a try at anytime in the contest and 23/10 isn't to be sniffed at.
Stormers v Bulls
The Bulls know that a win in any shape or form would see them finish top of the Super Rugby table. It is for that reason – and also that South African derbies have not been high on enterprising rugby – that the points margin appeals. We like the look of the Stormers by 1-10 points at 15-8, however, this also seems a very good time to use Paddy Power's Exact Winning Margin option. Back the Stormers to win by 3 and 5 at 20/1 and 25/1 respectively.
Bryan Habana plays his last game for the Stormers and if you like your fairytale endings then the Bok to score the final try is 10/1. Rain is forecast in Cape Town on Saturday though, adding further weight to moving towards the no try-scorer option you can get at 16s.