Super Rugby: Round 18 Saturday Preview

Super Rugby: Round 18 Preview

The round-robin phase of the 2018 Super Rugby season is fast coming to a close, and the five fixtures that are taking place this Saturday could have a massive bearing on the make-up of the play-offs.

The round-robin phase of the 2018 Super Rugby season reaches its penultimate round this coming weekend and we are set for a cracking Saturday which will see two local derbies as well as a South African Conference tie between the seemingly unstoppable Jaguares and a wounded Bulls outfit.

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Chiefs v Brumbies
FMG Waikato

To Win (80 Mins)
Chiefs 1/6

Draw 30/1
Brumbies 4/1

Chiefs (-13.5) 9/10

Brumbies (+13.5) 9/10

We kick the day's action off with a clash between two sides who bagged wins last week with the Chiefs hosting the Brumbies. The New Zealanders head into this one off the back of a resounding 42-22 victory over local rivals, the Highlanders.

Like the Chiefs, the Brumbies also managed to get one over Kiwi opposition as they produced the shock of the round by beating the Hurricanes 24-12.

Verdict: Chiefs (-13.5) 9/10
The Chiefs will want to put a full 80-minute performance in here after letting the foot off the pedal during the second half of their outing in Suva. The Brumbies are unlikely to produce as solid a performance as they did against an undercooked 'Canes outfit. I can see the hosts taking this one by 17 points or more. 

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Hurricanes v Blues
Westpac Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Hurricanes 1/6

Draw 28/1
Blues 4/1

Hurricanes (-13.5) 9/10

Blues (+13.5) 9/10

The Hurricanes will look to arrest an alarming loss of form which has seen them lose three fixtures on the trot when they take on an Auckland side fresh off the back of a first home victory of the season. The visitors showed glimpses of their potential as a side during last Friday's 39-16 victory over the Reds but will need to be even more clinical against a wounded 'Canes team if they are to bag a famous win here.

It seems both teams will have players back for this one with talismanic pivot Beauden Barret and workaholic flanker Brad Shields set to return after missing last week's defeat in Canberra, while Blues scrum-half Augustine Pulu should return to the starting XV for the Aucklanders.

Verdict: Hurricanes (-13.5) 9/10
This could be a cracker of a game if the weather gods play ball, which they don't look like doing at present. I can see the return of the Hurricanes big guns securing them a big win regardless of whether it's pouring down with rain or dry as a bone at the 'Cake Tin'.

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Waratahs v Sunwolves
Allianz Stadium


To Win (80 Mins)
Waratahs 1/8

Draw 30/1
Sunwolves 9/2

Waratahs (-16.5) 9/10
Sunwolves (+16.5) 9/10

We skip across the Tasman for our next fixture, which will see the Waratahs, sans skipper Michael Hooper, take on the Sunwolves. Both teams come into this tie off the back of comeback victories with two intercept tries seeing this weekend's hosts turn the tables of the Melbourne Rebels, while a late show from the never-say-die Sunwolves saw them complete a historic comeback against the Bulls in Singapore.

The hosts may still be missing captain Michael Hooper but they will welcome back his fellow Wallaby star Israel Folau, who returns from the one-match ban he copped in the final Test against Ireland.

Verdict: Waratahs (-16.5) 9/10
Folau's return is a massive coup for the Waratahs who are heavily reliant on the former Aussie Rules and NRL star's aerial ability. I can see him spearheading a big victory over a plucky Sunwolves outfit.

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Bulls v Jaguares
Loftus Versfeld

To Win (80 Mins)
Bulls 1/1
Draw 25/1
Jaguares 17/20

We conclude our Saturday tour of the southern hemisphere with a two-leg stop in South Africa, with our first port of call being Pretoria where the Bulls will square off against the Jaguares. The hosts come into this one off the back of a demoralising 42-37 defeat to the Sunwolves, while the Jaguares make the trip having beaten a very tame Stormers side 25-14.

The hosts head into this one needing to secure a victory - and then hope for the Sharks to stumble against the Stormers -if they are to head into the final round of round-robin fixtures with a sniff of advancing to the quarters. The Jaguares, on the other hand, just need a bonus point win here to ensure their progress to the next phase. with around to spare.

Verdict: Bulls 1/1
I'm expecting a big response from John Mitchell's men who will be fighting for their survival at Loftus. I know the visitors are one of the form teams in the 'comp, but I still harbour this feeling that the wheels will come off the Argentine train before the close of the regular season.

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Stormers v Sharks
DHL Newlands

To Win (80 Mins)
Stormers 92/100
Draw 25/1

Our final fixture is certainly the most fascinating one of the day with coastal foes the Stormers and Sharks set to go at it hammer-and-tong down in Cape Town. The host's lacklustre defeat to the Jaguares last Saturday has ruled them out the running for a quarter-final berth so this one is all about pride for them.

Conversely, their counterparts gave themselves a massive shot at qualifying for the next phase of the competition with their comeback victory over the Lions. The will, however, need to register two more wins and hope the Jaguares or Rebels slip up during the final two rounds.

Verdict: Stormers 92/100
The shackles are off for Fleck's men and I can see them getting one over a Sharks side that really has been their 'bunny' over the past few years. 

Written by Darry Worthington for

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