We have made it. The finals are here and for the first time ever we have a playoff game in Argentina! Congrats to the Jaguares, with home advantage for the next 2 rounds at least, how far can they go? For all the talk of only 2 New Zealand sides to make it we have a familiar looking makeup to the final 8. Yup the Highlanders and Chiefs pulled it out of the bag at the last moment.
Catchup with what happened in Round 18 with the DrivingMaul Round 18 Review.
Here is my video with my Super Rugby 2019 Round 18 Predictions:
Crusaders v Highlanders – Crusaders by 7
All season we have been talking about how this is a competition for the Crusaders to lose rather than whole win it. Their performances over the last few rounds have reset the expectations a little. Sure they put away a poor Rebels side in their game but look at what they Chiefs did to the same side. The only recent performance to really stand out is that victory against the Bulls.
So the Highlanders have some hope coming into this game. It’s not a lot of hope thought as the Landers also have been struggling of late and needed a very good result and other fixtures to go their way to get here. Also their last win in Christchurch was back on the 11th April 2015. Yup Saders are heavy favourite in this one.
Jaguares v Chiefs – Jaguares by 5
The Jaguares are having a great season and have not only topped the Africa conference for the first time but also claimed 2nd over all. That means that if they win this weekend they will be at home next weekend too. At home the Jaguares have won 6 out of 8 games. Those 2 losses came against the Lions in the opening weekend and the Chiefs.
That has to be the greatest hope for the Chiefs that they won the last meeting in Argentina 27-30. Yup a close one, the problem this time around though is the travel or to be more specific the late notice of knowing what the travel would be. Apparently some players stayed in the Melbourne and some came back to NZ. It all sounds chaotic and can’t be good preparation.
Hurricanes v Vodacom Bulls – Hurricanes by 10
The Canes rounded things off with a big home win over the Blues in the end. Not only that but they were able to rest a whole host of players. The Bulls on the other hand had to play their players in their big win over the Lions. You never rest players for derbies against a side that’s from just over the river.
Not only that but the Bulls had just returned from their successful 4 week tour. That flying back for 1 week and having to fly out again will take its toll on the players. I think this will be a trip too far even though they will gain a lot of confidence from their performances on that tour.
I will be Live on YouTube straight after the final whistle with post match reaction.
Brumbies v Cell C Sharks – Brumbies by 10
The Brumbies will be very happy with this matchup. The Brumbies have so far hosted the Lions, winning by 11 points and the Bulls winning by 12 points. That latter victory is one of their 6 in a row that they have coming into this game. Yup the Brumbies are on a roll and when they get that rolling maul going they are dangerous for anyone.
The Sharks got here by the narrowest of victories that finished 9-12 and needed an 80+ minute try to seal it. Unless you’re in the camp you’re not going to know if that has drained the team or invigorated them. They are a team that can take teams to the cleaner one week and totally collapse the next.
I know it’s not exciting to go with 4 home wins at this stage but those teams have all earned the right to home advantage. It’s hard to see anything else happening to be honest and there is a certain inevitability of the Jaguares losing to the Crusaders in Christchurch in a couple of weeks time.
Don’t want to miss out? Then sign-up for the DrivingMaul newsletter that comes out every Thursday with links to all the best posts and videos.