It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's weekend predictions for the scheduled action.
It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's weekend predictions.
Just the two Super Rugby games this Saturday but they don't come much bigger than at play-off time, with the Brumbies and Sharks battling the Chiefs and Highlanders respectively for a trip to either the Waratahs or Crusaders next week.
Canberra and Durban are the settings for these games and it's no surprise that those playing at home are the bookies favourites to progress. But we don't think it will as clear cut at Kings Park as many predict while the Chiefs' ability to turn it on when it matters makes for a great day's action.
The pressure is on, so it's lining up as a great weekend for rugby betting.
Let's get started then – read on.
Brumbies v Chiefs
Last year's finalists look to be hitting form at just the right time as the Brumbies bounced back from a difficult period with an outstanding showing of attacking rugby while the Chiefs have ground out victories over recent rounds. Big name players such as Matt Toomua, Henry Speight, Aaron Cruden and Brodie Retallick have all come to the party which makes for quite a prospect for the watching neutral. But who should you be backing on Saturday?
Home advantage is such a factor in knockout rugby with last seeing just one out of the five run-in games have an away victor – the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld by three points – so if the champions do pull it off, we are expecting it to be by 1-5 points at most which is at 7/2.
The Brumbies though do have a tendency to shoot out of the blocks in Canberra so a first try scorer wearing white is also a decent shout. Last week Toomua was the man diving over but we fancy Jesse Mogg at 10/1 as after eight games without crossing, he has two in two.
Sharks v Highlanders
Write off the Highlanders at your peril should be the message from coach Jake White to his Sharks. The Durban side would be wise to ignore their opponent's effort in Christchurch last week and instead go back to the tape for Round 11 when the Highlanders won 34-18.
The Highlanders' line-up that day included Lima Sopoaga and Ben Smith as starters, the latter missing last week while Sopoaga was on the bench. But you can bet your bottom dollar that they will return with a bang this week, with the +14 point handicap far too high.
Also catching the eye is the Highlanders to score the first try at 15/8 with Paddy Power, due to the Sharks liking to build a lead with the boot early in their games at Kings Park.
Name the finalists
We always enjoy these. Let's go for the Waratahs and Sharks at 7/2 as if one team can beat the Crusaders on their own patch then it is the men from Durban – let's not forget they won 30-25 in Christchurch with 14 men in May. This option seems like the best value.
Superbru Super Rugby predictions:
Brumbies v Chiefs: Brumbies by 8
Sharks v Highlanders: Sharks by 5