While there's not much on the line this weekend, we're still set for some cracking Super Rugby Aotearoa action as four of New Zealand's top five sides will have the shackles removed this weekend.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Friday 30th April
To Win (80 Mins)
We kick things off in Wellington where the last-placed Hurricanes will be looking to end their extremely disappointing campaign on a high note when they take on the Highlanders, who can still claim a third-place finish.
The hosts have only managed to register one win from the seven round-robin fixtures they have played with their latest defeat seeing them involved in yet another nail-biter with Chiefs star Damian McKenzie kicking a very late penalty to condemn the ‘Canes to a 26-24 defeat this past Friday.
The Highlanders have enjoyed a slightly better season winning three of their seven fixtures. They enjoyed a bye last weekend with their latest outing being on April 16th where they registered a highly impressive 35-29 victory over the Auckland Blues.
Latest team news sees just two changes to the ‘Canes side with Julia Savea returning to the run-on XV and Billy Proctor promoted to the bench. These changes see Pepesana Ptafilo drop to the bench while Vaea Fifita doesn’t make the matchday squad.
Verdict: Hurricanes (-)
I really think this will be an absolute cracker with both teams sure to want to entertain during their final Super Rugby Aotearoa game of the season. While the Highlanders carry better form into this one – they’ve beaten the Blues and Crusaders over the last month – I reckon the hosts will pull one out the bag.
Blues v Chiefs
Saturday 1 May
To Win (80 Mins) *tba
We head over to Auckland now for what should have been an all-to-play for affair, but the Blues’ failure to pick up a point from their fixture against the Crusaders last weekend has left them out of contention for a final berth.
The Aucklanders gave a decent enough account of themselves during the first half of their clash against the reigning champions this past Sunday but then fell to pieces in the second stanza and eventually went down 29-6.
Their opponents fared better this past weekend with a late Damien McKenzie penalty securing a two-point win over the Hurricanes in Wellington booking, their spot in the grand final.
When these two sides met back at the close of March we witnessed a very cagey affair with the Chiefs edging the game 15-12. This one is likely to be a more open game with the Waikato outfit sure to rest a few key men.
Verdict: Blues (-)
I’m backing the men from Auckland to come good here. They’re likely to face a weakened Chiefs side and they’ll want to close off what has been a below-par campaign with a win.