HURRICANES v BRUMBIES in Napier, Friday 5.35pm AEST
After eight rounds the Hurricanes shape as a title favourite along with the Crusaders, Chiefs and Lions. The Barrett brothers must be the hardest men to tackle in the world: speed, strength…and did I mention speed! They’ve combined for 42 tackle busts for the season. I think this game will be closer than people are predicting as it is being played in Napier, which slows things down a bit and plays into the Brumbies’ hands. But the ’Canes will still win comfortably.
Canes 13 plus
WARATAHS v KINGS in Sydney, Friday 7.45pm AEST
The Waratahs aren’t the complete team we are used to but you would hope they would beat the Kings at home. The Kings came back strong against the Reds last week, which should help the ’Tahs focus for this game.
Waratahs 13 plus
LIONS v JAGUARES in Johannesburg, Saturday 3am AEST
It’s a great Africa 2 Group with these two teams plus the Sharks. Only nine points separate these two teams but it looks like the Lions are the team to beat outside of New Zealand.
Lions 13 plus
HIGHLANDERS v SUNWOLVES in Invercargill, Saturday 3.15pm AEST
I was excited for a bloodbath until I found out this game is being played in Invercargill. Renowned for bad weather (and the birth place of yours truly), 17 degrees and mostly cloudy is the weather prediction. The 5.15pm local time kickoff should help with some entertainment. Let’s pray it doesn’t rain. Sunwolves are paying $61 if you fancy a longshot.
Highlanders 13 plus.
CRUSADERS v STORMERS in Christchurch, Saturday 5.35pm AEST
The Stormers got handed their first defeat last week and it will be interesting to see how they go outside of South Africa. The Crusaders are still undefeated and will continue that this weekend.
Crusaders 12 and under
FORCE v CHIEFS in Perth, Saturday 7.45pm AEST
The Chiefs are on their way back from South Africa after beating the Cheetahs last week. It’s always difficult to stop in Perth and play some good footy but they shouldn’t disappoint with a strong team named. The Force are the Force, you generally know what you are going to get: they will slow down your ball and theirs. Chiefs should be too good.
Chiefs 13 plus.
BULLS v CHEETAHS in Pretoria, Sunday 1.15am AEST
If Cheetahs can stiffen up their defence they can win this game. The Bulls should be embarrassed by losing to the Sunwolves two weeks back, but downing the Jaguares was a handy bounce-back.
Bulls 12 and under.
SHARKS v REBELS in Durban, Sunday 3.30am AEST
The Rebels are hopeless away from home and although they are on a high after winning their first game last week, they will have to wait at least another week to enjoy that feeling again.
Sharks 13 plus