Vodacom Super Rugby Play-offs
The Play-offs once again demonstrate the strength and depth of the New Zealand franchises with the only team missing out on a spot being the Blues. The Crusaders finished top of the log by some distance and will be difficult for any team to stop, especially in Christchurch where they will play their remaining games.
The Waratahs are the only Australian team to secure a play-off spot and questions will once again be asked as to the depth in Australian rugby. Besides the Lions and Sharks, the other team to secure a place are the Jaguares.
The Play-off round begins with the Hurricanes welcoming the Chiefs to Wellington in what will be a humdinger of a New Zealand derby. The Barrett vs Mckenzie flyhalf battle will be epic.
Next up will be the Crusaders taking on the Sharks. On their day, the Sharks look like a well-oiled machine but against the Crusaders at home, a victory for them looks unlikely.
The Waratahs then entertain the Highlanders in a repeat of the fixture earlier in the season where the Waratahs, quite unbelievably, thumped the Highlanders by 29 points. Don’t expect the same sort of result this time though, as the Highlanders played with 14 men for a large part of that game and the Waratahs look fragile without their talisman, captain Michael Hooper.
Lastly, in Joburg the Emirates Lions will want make it three losses on the trot for the Jaguares against SA teams after losing to both the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks in the last two rounds. The Lions have a number of experienced regulars back and fit in the form of Whiteley, Marx, Skosan and Combrinck. As the Bulls found out last weekend, the Lions can be devastating when the stars align.