We have reached the knockout stages, with every match crucial in determining which New Zealand side is going to lift the trophy. No more resting players, no more dead rubbers, this is it.
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The GSP has sadly eluded me all season, but I’m not far off the top of most Superbru pools, and a strong finish would likely yield some gold medals.
History tells us that home teams almost always win Super Rugby knockout matches, and a home win would be a sensible starting point for your predictions, but I am throwing in one win for an away side in this week’s picks.
Here are my Super Rugby predictions for the quarter-final matches this weekend.
Hurricanes v Chiefs
The Chiefs will take some confidence from their victory over the Canes last week, where their second-string side defeated a full-strength Hurricanes team. The stakes are a bit different now though, and with home advantage, I am expecting the Hurricanes to come through. It will likely be quite tight, but everyone will pick a single-figure margin, so I’m going a little high looking for a Bonus Point. Hurricanes by 13
Crusaders v Sharks
The Sharks snuck into the playoffs at the expense of the Rebels, and a trip to Christchurch to face the reigning champions is their reward where there is only going to be one winner. I don’t think this one will be close. Crusaders by 23
Waratahs v Highlanders
The Tahs won this fixture by 29 points back in May, which meant that the Highlanders finished below the Chiefs on the overall table. But they’ll be happier going to Sydney than to Wellington, which is where the Chiefs are going, and I fancy an upset in this one – if you can call a Kiwi side beating an Aussie side an upset. Highlanders by 4
Lions v Jaguares
Despite picking the away side above, I’m aware that home sides nearly always win knockout matches in this tournament, and the home team has won this fixture on each of the six occasions it has been played. At altitude in Johannesburg is also a tough place for away sides to play, and I think the Lions will make it to the semi-finals. Lions by 11
I’m particularly looking forward to that New Zealand derby, which kicks off proceedings on Friday. Enjoy!
Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James