Shaun Goosen takes a look at the Super Rugby Saturday Round 13 match ups. The Sharks continue their tour and will encounter the Chiefs, the Jaguares travel to New Zealand to face the Highlanders, while the Lions host the Waratahs. Check out our preview below:
Highlanders v Jaguares
Forsyth Barr Stadium
Highlanders (-10.5) 9/10
Jaguares (+10.5) 9/10
The Highlanders face a tricky test when they host a Jaguares side on the up in Dunedin on
The Jaguares have won all four of their last Super Rugby games on the trot. Gonzalo
Quesada’s men have steadily improved this campaign, putting on a number of good
showings – including last week’s 30-25 home win over the Stormers – to be within a single
point of the SA conference table-toppers the Bulls.
They will pose a real threat to the Landers on Saturday, a team that followed up their
fantastic 52-0 win over the Sunwolves a fortnight ago with a rather disappointing 31-all
draw with the Chiefs; this after leading by 16-points at one stage.
With rain likely, the hosts will depend on the tactical kicking prowess of the likes of Aaron
Smith at halfback. The loss to injury of Ben Smith, most likely for the rest of the season, is a
huge blow for the 2015 champions, who will need to march on without his leadership and
experience at the back.
The winner may well come down to whoever best manages the territorial aspect of the
game, with defence set to play a huge role. With this in mind, back the superiorly coached
hosts to come out on top.
Verdict: Highlanders by 10-points or more.
Chiefs v Sharks
Chiefs (-3.5) 9/10
Sharks (+3.5) 9/10
The Sharks will be full of confidence, but it may not be enough ahead of their final tour
game against the Chiefs in Waikato on Saturday.
While they will feel aggrieved at having let the Crusaders pull-off a draw in the dying
moments of their tie in Christchurch last Friday, the fact that they ran them so close to
begin with is an achievement in itself.
Curwin Bosch was particularly influential at first-five, with the 21-year-old nearly guiding his
team to what would have been a famous win. Nevertheless, the Durbanites will have
another shot at claiming a rare victory in Kiwiland when they take on an ever-improving
Chiefs side in Hamilton.
Colin Cooper’s men did well to battle back from 16-points down to claim a draw themselves
against the Highlanders last week. With playoff qualification not entirely out of the equation
for the two-time champions, they will target the Sharks’ game as a must-win.
As mighty as the Sharks were last week, don’t be surprised if their perennial inconsistency
comes back to bite them again. The Chiefs may not have the best home record of sides this
term, but expect them to come out firing to claim a narrow win.
Verdict: Chiefs by seven-points or more
Lions v Waratahs
Emirates Airline Park
Lions (-7.5) 9/10
Waratahs (+7.5) 9/10
The Lions should take advantage of an out of sorts Waratahs outfit when they host the
Australian side in Johannesburg in Saturday’s final Super Rugby clash.
Daryl Gibson’s men have suffered consecutive losses to South African sides over the past
fortnight which has severely dented their confidence ahead of their second match on tour.
Having already fallen foul to the Sunwolves earlier in the season, coupled with the ongoing
Israel Folau saga, this is one footy team under immense pressure.
While the Lions haven’t necessarily fared much better this campaign (just one point
separates the 11th -placed hosts from the 12th -placed Tahs), their recent bye week should
have reinvigorated them somewhat.
Qualification remains unlikely for both outfits, but pride is still very much on the line
heading into the remaining weeks of the season. Playing at home, though, Swys de Bruin’s
charges should come away with four-log points at the very least.
Verdict: Lions by 10 or more.