As Super Rugby draws ever-nearer to its close, who will be victorious in the semi-finals?
Chiefs v Crusaders
It goes without saying that both of these games will be tight, but this one is particularly difficult to call. The Crusaders are in imperious form, having not lost since the 24th May when they went down to… the Chiefs, of course. That game, like this one, was in Hamilton, but when the Chiefs visited Christchurch more recently, they were handed a 43-15 drubbing.
The incumbent champions have had a week off by virtue of being top of their conference, which reflects how well they have played throughout the season. The Crusaders started slowly but have been looking supremely dangerous lately, as evidenced by their comfortable 29-point win over the Reds in the Qualifier.
Despite the game being in Hamilton, the Crusaders are looking too strong at the moment and will sneak a final, pulsating NZ derby.
Prediction: Crusaders by 4
Bulls v Brumbies
The Bulls were brought crashing back down to earth in the last game of the regular season as their nine game winning streak was brought to an abrupt end by the Stormers. That said, they already knew they were in the semi-finals at that point. This week they have been passed a clean bill of health (longer-term casualties aside), meaning Jan Serfontein, Flip van der Merwe and Francois Hougaard have all been cleared to play.
The Brumbies were nervy in their qualifier, sneaking past the Cheetahs 15-13 on home soil and relying on the boot of Christian Leali’ifano in the process. This week they find themselves in South Africa, and despite having beaten the Bulls earlier in the season, that game was in Canberra. Since the Lions series, they have lacked the fluency of earlier in the season and will need it back to overcome the Bulls.
It’s another extremely difficult one to call – and don’t expect a hugely open game – but at home the Bulls should prevail.
Prediction: Bulls by 3
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43