Round 14 of the Super Rugby season is undoubtedly highlighted by a top of the New Zealand conference clash between the Hurricanes and Chiefs in Wellington on Saturday, while the Lions and Brumbies are sure to play out a thriller of their own in South Africa.
The Crusaders, Stormers and Force all posted victories last weekend and have the bye in Round 14.
With only a few weeks of regular season fixtures remaining, the race to the Super Rugby finals has never been hotter, and we’re offering the best odds on all six fixtures in Round 14!
Blues vs Bulls
The Blues have found somewhat competitive form in recent weeks without being able to post a win, but enter their Round 14 match with the Bulls off the back of a convincing loss to the Rebels. Interestingly, the Auckland-based franchise currently rank third overall for metres gained this season and will certainly need to continue this trend and score tries if they are any chance against the in-form Bulls, who are currently tied atop the South African conference with the Stormers. The Bulls had the bye in Week 13 and were able to travel to New Zealand earlier as a result, allowing for more time to acclimatize. Only one South African team looks likely to make the Super Rugby finals and the Bulls should have no issue taking a step closer to a berth on Friday afternoon Australian time.
Reds vs Rebels
In what is the only all-Australian fixture in Round 14, the lowly Reds host the in-form Rebels on Friday night. The Reds have been nothing short of awful this year and remain cemented to the bottom of overall standings with a points difference of -172 having posted only two wins. Karmichael Hunt re-joins the Reds’ fold for this match and will undoubtedly have to muster a huge performance if his side is any hope. The Rebels are aiming for their third-consecutive win on Friday and will be full of confidence, particularly having beaten the Chiefs for the first time a fortnight ago. The Rebels will, at least temporarily, move atop the Australian conference with a bonus point win and look likely to do just that.
Hurricanes vs Chiefs
In what undoubtedly figures as the headline match of Round 14, the New Zealand conference-leading Hurricanes and Chiefs lock horns in Wellington on Saturday afternoon Australian time. The Hurricanes have won all but one of their matches so far and look almost certain to finish the regular season as the highest rated side. Boasting a big, mobile forward pack and backline rich with All Blacks talent, the Canes are sure to be tested by the Chiefs who will return to competition fresh following a Round 13 bye. The Hurricanes lead the competition in defenders beaten, and scrum success, while interestingly the Chiefs have suffered the most yellow cards of any team with nine. The Hurricanes will all but sew-up their post season position with success this weekend and should win this match in a nail-biter.
Waratahs vs Sharks
The Waratahs have steadily built to the task this season and now sit only one point off the pace of the conference leading Brumbies; blowing a great chance to leapfrog their ACT counterparts when dropping the points to the Force in Week 13. The Sharks are no hope of playing finals rugby this season and sit perilously close to the bottom of the South African conference. Having pushed the Hurricanes for 80 minutes last weekend, the Sharks are by no means an easy beat on Saturday night but the Waratahs will win this match if they are serious about their title defence.
Lions vs Brumbies
The Lions have undoubtedly been the Super Rugby competition’s big improvers this season and remain a great chance of a finals berth if they can win all of their remaining matches. Having seen off a spirited and in-form Highlanders outfit last weekend, the Johannesburg-based side host the Brumbies early Sunday morning Australian time in what looks likely to figure as one of the weekend’s tightest contests. The Brumbies have been unable to pull clear of the Waratahs over recent weeks and suffered a demoralising one point defeat to the Stormers in Round 13 when Christian Lealiifano missed a vital kick in the game’s dying stages. Requiring a win to maintain position atop the Australian conference, the Brumbies are sure to throw everything into this game but might be charged with too great a task in the Lions at home.
Cheetahs vs Highlanders
The Highlanders were gallant in defeat against the Lions last weekend and are offered a great chance to take something away from their South African tour when facing the lowly Cheetahs early Sunday morning. Unlucky to be sharing a conference with the Hurricanes and Chiefs, the Highlanders would be assured a finals berth if they played out of any other country but will take a big step towards a wildcard position with a bonus point win this weekend. The Cheetahs can leapfrog the Sharks in the South African conference with success but have never really looked the part this season and will probably lose again.