Crusaders v Sharks
How much can we take from the result here earlier in the season when making predictions for this game? As the Sharks learnt last week, when they beat a side that had won the exact same fixture earlier in the season, not a great deal. That they won here in Round 14, then, probably won’t have a great deal of bearing on the result this weekend – although it will likely give them the confidence to know they can get a victory. The Crusaders have had a couple of weeks off so will be well rested (or rusty?) but one thing they need to ensure is that their pack hit the ground running – they will have seen the way the Sharks tight five eviscerated the Highlanders last weekend, and need to find a way of making sure the same doesn’t happen to them.
It is a very difficult game to call – probably the more difficult of the two semi-finals. The Crusaders have home advantage, but have already lost three times in Christchurch this season, so that doesn’t tell us a great deal. The Sharks have performed well against the New Zealand franchises this season, and I just feel they’ve got one more big performance in them to overcome a Crusaders side that have played too laterally at times recently.
SuperBru prediction: Sharks by 2.
Waratahs v Brumbies
This looks a slightly easier one to call. The Waratahs, despite having had a weekend off, bring insatiably good form into the game, have not tasted defeat since 25th April. They beat the Brumbies by 31 in this exact fixture just a few weeks ago – incidentally, their joint highest margin of victory all season. The Brumbies played well on the whole last weekend against the Chiefs, but were guilty of switching off at times and could quite easily have been held to a draw had Aaron Cruden had his kicking boots on in the last few minutes.
The Brumbies will look to fly out of the blocks and catch the Waratahs cold after their week off, but unless they can build a huge lead early on it’s tough to see them coming away from this one with a win. Whatever happens, the prospect of the likes of Toomua, Speight and Mogg going up against compatriots Beale, Ashley-Cooper and Folau is a mouthwatering one, to say the least. The way the Waratahs have played this season, though, it would be a travesty if they didn’t at least make it to the final.
SuperBru prediction: Waratahs by 9.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43