Monday 18 December 2017 / 02:48 AM

SUPER RUGBY RD 17 PREVIEW

A plethora of playoff possibilities have set up an enthralling final round of the 2016 Super Rugby regular season.

Blues v Waratahs – 5.35pm (AEST), Friday, July 15 @ Eden Park

After a great win against the Brumbies last week, you would have to back the Blues again, even though the Waratahs need to win this to stay in the playoffs mix. There is something about the Blues at the end of the season that works well and at home they will be hard to beat. You have to give the Waratahs a chance with so many Wallabies, but I’m backing in the Blues.

Prediction: Blues 12 and under

Reds v Rebels – 7.40pm (AEST), Friday, July 15 @ Suncorp Stadium

The Reds versus Rebels will be a matchup that not many people will watch. Both teams got destroyed last week by Kiwi teams. If it was a regular game mid-season you would back the Rebels but the Reds will want to finish on a high at home in front of all their fans. They may have Quade Cooper playing for the next year which should help their chances, but thats 2017…

Prediction: Reds 12 and under

Sharks v Sunwolves – 3.00am (AEST), Saturday, July 16 @ Kings Park

The Sharks need to win this game to gain eighth place in the play-offs. They should do this with ease at home against the bottom feeders Sunwolves. Lock them in for eighth place.

Prediction: Sharks 13 plus

Crusaders v Hurricanes – 3.15pm (AEST), Saturday, July 16 @ AMI Stadium

Good to see a New Zealand derby in the last round of the season. Both teams have made the finals, it just depends on what position. The Crusaders have a chance to take first place if the Chiefs lose against the Highlanders, so there is still plenty to play for. Should be a cracker of a game.

Prediction Crusaders 12 and under

Highlanders v Chiefs – 5.35pm (AEST), Saturday, July 16 @ Forsyth Barr Stadium

Both teams have a chance to finish number one in the NZ conference and maybe top spot outright if the Lions stumble on Sunday morning. The Highlanders have beaten the Chiefs in the last five clashes, and at home under the roof they should have a good chance of winning again. Back-to-back New Zealand derby blockbusters – what better way to spend an afternoon.

Prediction: Highlanders 12 and under

Brumbies v Force – 7.40pm (AEST), Saturday, July 16 @ GIO Stadium

Should be a straightforward game for the Brumbies at home against the Force, but after last week’s loss to the Blues you never know what will happen. The Brumbies need to win this to stay top of the Aussie conference and finish fourth overall.

Prediction: Brumbies 13 plus

Stormers v Kings – 1.05am (AEST), Sunday, July 17 @ Newlands

Another straightforward game here for the Stormers and they shouId take full points. Their finals spot is already assured, but they will want to  get some type of form going into the finals next week as they will most likely be hosting a New Zealand team probably the Hurricanes.

Prediction: Stormers 13 plus

Cheetahs v Bulls – 3.00am (AEST), Sunday, July 17 @ Free State Stadium

They will know going into this game knowing whether it will be a dead rubber or not. The Sharks should beat the Sunwolves, and if they do, there’s no point really playing this game. This game is anyone’s – the Cheetahs aren’t bad at home but the Bulls are higher on the table. I wouldn’t get up for this one if you live in Australia or New Zealand.

Prediction: Bulls 12 and under

Jaguares v Lions – 7.40am (AEST), Sunday, July 17 @ Jose Amalfitani Stadium

The last game of the regular season leaves us with the strangest coaching decision ever. This might be the worst gamble in Super Rugby history, but if it pays off it will be a masterstroke. The head coach of the Lions is taking a second-string team to Argentina to rest his top-line players for the play-offs. The Lions are top of the table and have a home semi-final at home and potentially the final if they win this week. If they lose to the Jags however, they will finish second – and face a much tougher first-up playoffs assignment – and if they manage to make the final they probably have to travel to New Zealand. It boggles the mind that he would rest so many key players, especially against the Argentinean team, who are no slouches at home. I’m going to tip the Jags 13+. They will be insulted that they have to play scratch team and in their last home game of the season they will want to put in a big performance for their fans.

Prediction: Jags 13 plus

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About the author

Ryan Frisby

Sunshine Coast-based Ryan is proud product of Southland, NZ, and was unsurprisingly brought up on a steady diet of ruby union - which has led him to provide CBS with his forthright views on the 15-a-side code.

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