The Super Rugby season rolls into Week 9, featuring an all-Kiwi blockbuster on Friday an Australian derby at the SCG on Saturday!
History: Played 31: Hurricanes 15 V Chiefs 14 (2 Draws).
Last meeting: June 9, 2017: Chiefs 17 d Hurricanes 14 at Westpac Stadium.
Final Thoughts: The Hurricanes have won five straight but they got out of jail last week, with a converted try after the siren giving the a 38-37 victory over the unfancied Sharks. Beauden Barrett is likely to return from injury but TJ Peranara is under a cloud due to a knee problem.
The Chiefs are also on a five-game winning streak, following up their high-quality win over the Highlanders with a narrow victory against the embattled Blues.
The Hurricanes have a 10-6 home record against the Chiefs, but the Chiefs nabbed a 17-14 upset in the NZ capital last season and have won seven of the last 10 between the teams overall. Thirteen of the teams’ last 17 clashes have been decided by eight points or less.
This shapes as a real nail-biter and the in-form Chiefs look tremendous value as big outsiders given their excellent recent record in the rivalry.
History: Played 1: Sunwolves 1 V Blues 0.
Last meeting: July 15, 2017: Sunwolves 48 d Blues 21 at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium.
Final Thoughts: The Blues return to the scene of arguably the biggest of their many humiliations this week, seeking revenge for a final-round thrashing at the hands of the lowly Sunwolves last year.
The Blues led 21-14 at halftime but were swamped by the Sunwolves’ five unanswered tries in the second half to go down by an unspeakable 48-21.
The Auckland outfit responded positively to their dreadful 63-40 loss to the Sharks in Week 7, going down to the Chiefs by just two points in Hamilton last Saturday, and they’ll be hell-bent on notching their second win of 2018.
The Sunwolves are 0-6, conceding 110 points in their last two outings at home against the Chiefs and Waratahs. Last year’s boilover plants seeds of doubt, but the firepower-laden Blues should be up to the task and comfortably cover.
History: Played 1: Jaguares 1 V Rebels 0.
Last meeting: July 14, 2017: Jaguares 32 d Rebels 29.
Final Thoughts: After a sizzling start to 2018, the Rebels’ confidence has been rocked by heavy losses to the Waratahs (51-27) and Hurricanes (50-19) either side of a big win over the Sharks in their last three. They will be looking to regroup after last week’s bye.
The Jaguares have been as inscrutable as ever during their recent run of five home games, downing the Waratahs and Lions but crashing to losses against the Reds and Crusaders.
The Jaguares scored four tries to two in a 32-29 win in Melbourne last year – a rare overseas victory for the Argentine outfit.
The home-ground factor should be enough for the Rebels to get up but count on the flamboyant Jaguares keeping in close in what shapes as a high-scorer.
History: Played 22: Brumbies 12 V Highlanders 10.
Last meeting: March 25, 2017: Highlanders 18 d Brumbies 13.
Final Thoughts: The Highlanders are smarting from back-to-back losses to the Hurricanes and Chiefs – and they’ll be looking to take out their frustrations on the Brumbies back at their home fortress in Dunedin.
The 3-3 Brumbies got their season back on track with an emphatic 45-21 win over the Reds at home. But this road trip represents a far greater challenge for the Canberra outfit.
The Highlanders are on a three-match winning streak against the Brumbies and boast a 6-3 record against the Canberra outfit at home.
Boasting one of the best home records in Super Rugby and several world-class performers in their backline, the Highlanders should run away with this one and pick up a bonus point.
History: Played 28: Waratahs 15 V Reds 13.
Last meeting: April 29, 2017: Waratahs 29 d Reds 26 at Suncorp Stadium.
Final Thoughts: Rugby returns to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the code’s oldest Australian derby.
The Waratahs have emerged as the Australian team to beat after accounting for the Rebels and Brumbies in recent weeks, before putting 50 points on the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
The 3-3 Reds’ revival hit a massive roadblock in the form of their dismal away loss to the Brumbies, leading 15-0 before going down 45-21.
The Waratahs are on a seven-match winning streak against the Reds, but the last two were by three points or less. The Reds are 5-8 in away games against the ’Tahs.
But they have an appalling record on the road against Aussie rivals in recent years and shape as easy pickings for Foley, Beale, Hooper, Folau and co.
History: Played 28: Bulls 16 V Sharks 9 (3 Draws).
Last meeting: July 1, 2017: Bulls 30 d Sharks 17 at Kings Park.
Final Thoughts: The Sharks and Bulls are both sitting on just two wins and desperately need a result here to keep pace with the top half of the table.
The Sharks are back from a torrid month Down Under, losing to the Brumbies and Rebels, stunning the Blues and going down to the Hurricanes in an after-the-siren heart-breaker.
Meanwhile, the Bulls snapped a four-game losing streak with the scalp of the Stormers last weekend.
The Sharks have won only one of their last eight against the Bulls, who have an impressive 8-1-5 record at Kings Park. The Bulls pulled off a shock 13+ upset in Durban last season.
Both teams can take confidence out of last week’s performances, but the Sharks’ hectic travel schedule and the Bulls’ handy away record in this rivalry tips the scales in favour of the visitors.