Brumbies v Chiefs
The Brumbies destroyed fellow play-off hopefuls the Force last week, in a feast of running rugby that saw them finish with seven tries to their name. The Chiefs’ win over the Blues was far less fluent but arguably just as impressive – conditions were horrible but they ground out a win away from home, right when they needed it most.
Looking at how the season has panned out so far, the location of this one could be vital. The Brumbies have lost just once in Canberra in 2014, way back on the opening day of their campaign against the Reds. The Chiefs have just two wins on the road, but they have also drawn twice – suggesting that this one will be close.
The Brumbies beat their visitors this weekend by 18 at Canberra Stadium earlier this season, but as Aaron Cruden said earlier this week – “This is knockout footy” – and this game will likely be much closer than that. I’d still expect the Brumbies to make home advantage count and make it to the semi-finals, however.
SuperBru pick: Brumbies by 5
Sharks v Highlanders
Psychology is a big part of rugby, and the mental battle in this game will be intriguing. The Sharks may well be at home, which is an obvious advantage, but there are two sides to have beaten them in Durban this year – the Stormers and, back in April, the Highlanders, when they produced probably the shock of the year to pump their hosts by 16 points.
All this means the Highlanders will hold no fear arriving in Durban, while the Sharks will approach this with just slightly less confidence than they would if it had been a team they’d beaten already this year.
The hosts impressed in their win over the Stormers last weekend, while the Highlanders went down easily to the Crusaders. The Sharks have the second best defensive record in the league this year, while the Highlanders have the fourth-worst. In the tight encounters that knockout games invariably turn out to be, it is defence that tends to win games, so I’m backing the home side here.
SuperBru pick: Sharks by 6
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43