There was no shortage of chaos in Round 12 of the Super Rugby season last week and with finals inching ever closer, what does Round 13 have in store.
Perfect no more after a shock loss to the Reds, the Chiefs will be desperate for a response against the third placed Hurricanes on Saturday evening in the feature match this weekend.
However there is plenty on the line all over the table with home finals and top eight spots still very much up for grabs.
From an Aussie perspective the Brumbies will have to navigate a tough trip to Perth as they look to keep pace with the Chiefs while the Force aim to cling on to eighth place.
We’ve got you covered with our Super Rugby previews and best bets below so read on and see who we are backing in Round 13.
Friday 19 May, 5:05pm, Mt Smart Stadium
Still winless in 2023 and with a points differential of -230 from 11 games, it’s tough to give Moana Pasifika any sliver of hope here.
After all, they just had 71 put on them by the Hurricanes, undoing whatever positive momentum had been generated in hard fought defeats to the Reds, Rebels and Blues in the last month.
Even if the Crusaders opt to rest some players following their hard fought win over the Blues, they simply have to win and pick up a bonus point in the process.
When they met in Christchurch over the Easter weekend the Crusaders cruised to a 17 point victory and that is the absolute bare minimum margin I would be expecting here.
Crusaders to Cover -20.5 @ $1.80
Friday 19 May, 7:35pm, Suncorp Stadium
If last week’s win over the previously unbeaten Chiefs was not the best win of Brad Thorn’s tenure with the Reds, it’s definitely ranked top two or three.
However, it will not count for a whole lot of if the Reds falter over the next three weeks and slip out of the top eight.
While it feels like we say this every week, consistency remains a massive issue for the Reds as they chase consecutive wins over New Zealand opponents for the first time in what feels like an eternity.
The market is not giving them much chance against the Blues with a double digit line in favour of the visitors, but the Reds have kept it close at Suncorp Stadium when these teams faced off.
Even during the struggles that both sides have endured in the last decade, the last time a Reds home game was decided by a double digit margin was the 2011 Semi Final which the Reds won 30-13.
While a win would be preferable for the Reds for obvious reasons, holding on for a bonus point in defeat would not be the worst case scenario and if they can produce a similar effort to last week, it’s not out of the question at all.
Reds to Cover +10.5 @ $1.83
Saturday 20 May, 2:35pm, Forsyth Barr Stadium
Despite both of these sides possessing a wretched 3-8 record on the season, both are still very much in the mix for the finals sitting just three points behind the Force heading into the weekend.
It somewhat beggars belief that either of them could make the playoffs however with 2/3 of the field set to qualify, that is what you get.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two sides is that the Highlanders have very much under achieved over the balance of the season, while the Rebels are getting the best out of what is, in all fairness, a very limited talent base to draw on.
For that reason alone, the Rebels should at least be able to stick with their Kiwi opponents for the majority of this one.
But fight will only get you so far and the Highlanders can put up points when they click, scoring 28 or more in three of their last four home games.
I like the home side to run away with it late and even though the resumes are somewhat comparable in terms of season results, talent will come through in the end.
Highlanders to Cover -8.5 @ $1.83
Saturday 20 May, 5:05pm, FMG Stadium
Even with a slightly rotated squad last week, the Chiefs will feel like they let something special slip as they suffered their first defeat of 2023 against the Reds.
They have not been afforded a whole lot of time to lick their wounds as they look to rebound against the third placed Hurricanes this weekend.
A win would all but lock up a top two spot and if results go their way, they could seal the minor premiership as well.
However that may be a bit fanciful considering who the Crusaders are playing, but they do have the confidence of a 33-17 win over the Canes a month ago.
Back at home at FMG Stadium, I like the Chiefs to remind everyone who has been top dog for the majority of the season to date with a comfortable victory.
Chiefs to Cover -6.5 @ $1.83
Saturday 20 May, 7:35pm, Allianz Stadium
In spite of a pretty average start to the 2023 Super Rugby season, the Waratahs have taken advantage of some favourable matchups to vault back into the finals picture over the last month.
They have won four of their last five games, admittedly all of which were against teams in the bottom half of the Super Rugby ladder, but you can only beat the teams put in front of you.
Throughout their history the Drua have gone 0-3 against the Tahs with every defeat coming by at least 24 points.
A win here would lock up a finals berth for the Tahs and with the way they are coming into their own, they should be able to handle the Drua, who might be eyeing off their last two matches as more likely targets to get the points they need for a maiden finals appearance.
Waratahs to Cover -9.5 @ $1.83
Saturday 20 May, 10:05pm, HBF Park
It’s pretty simple for the Brumbies over the next three weeks, win out and they’ll be assured of finishing in at least second spot heading into the finals.
However a trip to Perth is no easy task for any side and the Brumbies only have to look back to March 2022 to know how easy it is to get caught out.
In their last trip to the West, the Brumbies only just escaped with a one point win and the Force have won all four games at HBF Park this season.
Those wins have all come against teams in the bottom half of the ladder however, with the Rebels, Moana Pasifika, the Highlanders and Drua all falling victim to the long haul flight.
The Brumbies are a much better side than any of those teams and have amassed a perfect 3-0 record on the road against fellow Australian opposition this season.
All signs are pointing to this one going down to the wire but the Brumbies have the look of a team that can handle the trip and get the result they need.
Brumbies by 1-12