By the end of this round we will be two-thirds of the way through the group stages and the sides will know now is the time they need to be performing to qualify for the playoffs. Here are my predictions for round 12.
First here is a link to my review of the last round of matches.
How did last weekend’s predictions go?
6 from 7, on the face of it good but I think most people managed to pick them.
Highlanders v Sharks
Last weekend the Highlanders rested their All Blacks and it told, they are a good side but not with that much depth. They will be at home again under their glass roof against a struggling Sharks side. This is being mentioned as a trip where the Sharks are fighting for respect and that’s all they really have to play for. Mathematically they are still in this competition but there are three better placed South African sides they would need to over haul and that doesn’t look likely.
Highlanders by 3
Brumbies v Waratahs
This is one of the games of the round as the two top sides from Australia go head to head. The reverse fixture was where the Tahs really started their title defence and the Brumbies will really want to settle some scores. There are Wallaby match-ups all over the pitch and I’m backing the men from the capital to avenge that loss with a close win.
Brumbies by 5
Blues v Force
The battle of the basement dwellers, I was tempted to go with a draw so that there would be two teams still on 1 win each. But that would be unfair on the Blues who have been playing some good attacking rugby but not being clinical enough. It should be close as the Force have lost their last six games by a single digit.
Pick: Blues by 5
Hurricanes v Crusaders
Another of the big face-offs this weekend. The Canes did suffer their first defeat a couple of weeks ago but had a moral boosting trip to the Reds since. The Saders continued their run of impressive games against lower opposition with a win over the Blues. Again the pundits said that they are hitting form but we have heard that a few too many times this season. So a double score gap win for the home side as the Saders are shown up again by quality opposition.
Hurricanes by 10
Rebels v Chiefs
The Rebels have really impressed me this season, from the outside they look like that they have moved on from their galactico stage and have built a club culture. That is showing as the team plays better but they are coming up against one of the top teams in the tournament. The Chiefs have lost a key playmaker but they appear to be a team revealing in the adversity and I can only see them picking up another away win.
Chiefs by 10
Cheetahs v Stormers
The Stormers have only lost to NZ teams and I can’t see that hanging this weekend as they continue on their way to winning the South African conference. Their tour is out of the way and they have 4 of their last 6 games at home. The Cheetahs have kept their more recent games close but I can’t see them getting anything out of this one.
Stormers by 14
Bulls v Lions
Another key matchup, before the season you would have called this as a comfortable home win. But the Lions have really impressed and are on a run of 5 wins. That sounds impressive but it’s been a close run things a they have all been by a margin of 5 or less points. The Bulls looked like they had got things on track after a poor start but they have stumbled a but recently including a loss to the Lions. So I’m going for an away upset win but it will be close.
Lions by 3