HIGHLANDERS v STORMERS in Dunedin, Friday 5.35pm AEST
The Storyline: The Stormers don’t really have much competition in their group so any points are just a bonus for them, with the Bulls 12 points behind. The Highlanders are in a different boat but it looks like they will still make the playoffs in seventh or eighth place. A win here will definitely help their cause.
The Stat: The Stormers have won six of their last seven against the Highlanders.
It’s a big game for: Waisake Naholo – He had half a game last week after coming back from injury. There is still an open spot on the wing for the All Blacks and a big game will see him take the first step to securing it.
The Verdict: This should be a pretty good game, especially under the roof. Both teams are packed with X-factor, particularly in their respective back-three contingents. I’ll have to tip the home side though. Highlanders 12 and under
— The Highlanders (@Highlanders) April 26, 2017
CHIEFS v SUNWOLVES in Hamilton, Saturday 5.35pm AEST
The poor Sunwolves. They faced the Crusaders, Highlanders and now the Chiefs. Next week they fly to Argentina. Brutal schedule, but playing the top teams can only make them better…hopefully. Chiefs 13 plus.
— Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) April 27, 2017
REDS v WARATAHS in Brisbane, Saturday 7.45pm AEST
The Storyline: Rugby union’s version of State or Origin. The Waratahs were terrible last week, losing to the Kings! The Reds’ last game was against the Kings where they nearly blew a massive lead. Quade Cooper came back and got some good flow going in the game. It’s a must win for both teams.
The Stat: The Waratahs are on a six-match winning streak against the Reds, with five of the wins coming by 18+ points.
It’s a big game for: Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley – The two No.10s running the cutter need a big game. Foley is the more controlled flyhalf but I think the team that throws it around a bit will win this game, so Cooper may have the upper hand there.
The Verdict: If both teams can cut the handling errors this should be an amazing game to watch. State versus state is always a tough match in any sport, in any country. After the Waratahs’ last performance the Reds should be able to get the job done at home. Reds 12 and under
— Jim Tucker (@HulaBulaJim) April 27, 2017
FORCE v LIONS in Perth, Saturday 9.55pm AEST
The Lions start their Australian tour after cruising in the Republic to start the competition. They are the best team in South Africa. The Force may be playing their last year in the competition – heaps to play for. Lions 12 and under
Here is your Road Safety Western Force team to take on @LionsRugbyUnion!
— Western Force (@westernforce) April 27, 2017
CHEETAHS v CRUSADERS in Bloemfontein, Sunday 1.15am AEST
The Crusaders are undefeated and want to keep it that way after naming their best starting 15. Should be a high-scoring game. Crusaders 13 plus.
— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) April 27, 2017
KINGS v REBELS in Port Elizabeth, Sunday 3.30am AEST
The Rebels got a draw last week against the Sharks. They might be the best performing Aussie team and could well win this game. Draw (fence-sitter)
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) April 27, 2017
JAGUARES v SHARKS in Buenos Aires, Sunday 5.40am AEST
Huge game in Africa 2 group. Jags should win at home. Jaguares 12 and under
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) April 27, 2017
BRUMBIES v BLUES in Canberra, Sunday 4.05pm AEST
The Storyline: Top of the Aussie conference versus bottom of the NZ conference, but both on 17 points and both with three wins. The Blues have had a tough gig, losing a few close matches to Kiwi heavyweights in the opening rounds. Both teams are on a two-game losing streak.
The Stat: The Blues have won just three of their last 19 games away from home.
It’s a big game for: Sonny Bill Williams – He has been awful since returning from injury two weeks ago. His team needs him to step up and take some ownership for his team’s results. He gets paid the most, he’s got experience and he’s an All Black superstar.
The Verdict: Another hard one to predict this week. The Blues have better players but the Brumbies work as team. The home advantage will definitely help them but I’ll have to tip the Kiwi team in a close one. Blues 12 and under
— Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) April 26, 2017