Round 16 Super Rugby Preview with Duncan McRae
The June Test window is now closed and it’s time to get back into Super Rugby as the finals quickly approach.
The Highlanders need to win their remaining two matches before the bye if they are any chance to qualify for the finals.
They beat the Chiefs 23-19 in the first round of the season and will be hoping for a repeat performance in front of their home fans.
The Chiefs have only lost two matches all season and are the competition leaders for a reason.
With Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams on fire, it’s hard to see anything but a Chiefs victory in this one.
This shapes up as the battle of the number 10’s when James O’Connor and Quade Cooper face off.
The Rebels caused the upset of the season when they defeated the Crusaders earlier in the year and will be hoping for a similar performance against the Reds.
It’s a match the Reds cannot afford to lose and with Cooper and Will Genia leading the side around they should be able to get the job done.
The Crusaders are red hot favourites despite the fact they’ll be missing Daniel Carter, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg.
They are building for a big charge at the title and they are one team you don’t want to come across finals time.
The Hurricanes need a win to keep their finals hopes alive but face an uphill battle and will be missing TJ Perenara who has been a revelation for the Canes this season.
It’s been a year to forget for the Force but they will be hoping to send out Nathan Sharpe as a winner in their final home match of the season.
The Brumbies have been the surprise packets of the competition and will fancy their chances of a win in Perth to cement their place at the top of the Australian conference.
It shapes up as a danger game with the Force wanting to do it for Sharpey, but the Brumbies know a slip here could open the door for the Reds.
I’m expecting a tight affair but the class of the Brumbies should prevail in this one.
This could get ugly!
The Stormers like the Chiefs have only dropped two games all season and lead the South African conference.
Like the Crusaders, the Stormers are building nicely in the run to the finals and welcome back some key troops in Schalk Burger and Andries Bekker in the coming weeks.
The Cheetahs have been one of the most entertaining sides to watch this year but that will mean little when they travel to Pretoria.
The Bulls cannot afford to slip up if they hope to run down the Stormers and top the South African conference.
The Cheetahs won’t die wondering which makes them a difficult side to come up against but the class of Morne Steyn and co. should be enough to get the Bulls home.
There is talk that the SARU could relegate the bottom-placed South African side and while the Cheetahs look safe, they will hope to pick up a bonus point out of this match.