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Meanwhile the Stormers suffered their second straight defeat on the weekend, this time at the hands of the Crusaders. The Stormers were caught out defensively on a lot of occasions and they will need to tighten that up if they are to turn things around this weekend. It is expected to be another long afternoon for the Japanese side, the Sunwolves as they take on the strong Chiefs outfit.
The inside centre of the Chiefs Anton Lienert-Brown has been outstanding for them in recent weeks and he has a great ability to compliment whoever he is paired with in the midfield. He has taken a lot of pressure off Aaron Cruden at flyhalf and he not only creates opportunities for his outside men but takes on the line himself.
The Sunwolvse have been on the wrong end of a lot of scorelines this season, and this could be one of the bigger ones. Chiefs at the line The rugby world has been hyping this match as a State of Origin like contest and while in theory it is, the fact the two sides have combined for just four wins this season suggests otherwise.
The Waratahs reached a new low last week as they lost to the Kings on home soil and surrendered a lead. It proves how disastrous the side is at the moment and how woeful their defence is. The side has lost its confidence, structure and ability to apply pressure and it will be a challenge for them to win on the road. Meanwhile the Reds will enter this match on the back of a bye. The side will be fresh and hoping Karmichael Hunt and Quade Cooper can fire them to victory. They have been developing a strong partnership and a win would see them put pressure on the Brumbies at the top of the table.
We are expecting a fiery and close encounter with the home side coming out on top. It was a spirited performance from their opponents and it took a late penalty goal by Andries Coetzee to ensure they would earn the victory.
However, we are expecting them to cruise to victory in this one, against a much easier opponent. It was the same old story for the Force on the weekend.
They were competitive and spirited against the Chiefs but unable to do enough to get the job done. It was their ill-discipline that cost them as Aaron Cruden kept the scoreboard ticking over through penalties. We are expecting the superior forward pack of the Lions to apply the pressure in this contest and for their back to do a lot of damage. Lions at the line The Crusaders secured another big win on the weekend, this time against championship contenders the Stormers.
The side remains undefeated and will look to maintain that record on the road this weekend. It was a convincing 30 point victory that was capped off by George Bridge who crossed for three tries in 30 minutes. The side is continuing to grow as their injured players return to the line up and they will be a tough side to beat this season.
The Cheetahs have just two wins to their name this season, against the lowly Sunwolves and Kings. However, the Cheetahs are known for making a lot of errors and the Crusaders are one of the best teams at capitalising off of turnovers. Crusaders at the line The Kings picked up a surprise victory last weekend on the road against the Waratahs.
They were trailing and produced one of the best comebacks the club has ever had. It was a good reward for a side that has put in a lot of effort during their tour of Australia where they scored over points. Their forward pack was the big difference in the match and it led to 26 straight points. The Rebels kicked off their South Africa tour with a draw against the Sharks.
It was a messy match with two players given a red card. Reese Hodge converted a penalty after the siren to give the Rebels a draw on the road and give a hit to the Sharks chances of reaching the finals. Surprisingly the Rebels head into this one as favourites, but we are backing the home side to earn the victory.
The Sharks suffered a hit to their finals contention with a draw against the struggling Rebels on home soil. They managed just 9 points against a side that has leaked 50 points on three occasions this season. In team news, flanker Ardie Savea is recovering ahead of schedule from his ankle sprain and is an outside chance of returning for this clash.
Seven of the last 8 meetings between the two were won by the home team. I would back the Crusaders in the head-to-head at 1. The Lions held off a spirited comeback from the Jaguares to win in Johannesburg last week. They led late in the first half before the Jaguares fought back to make the scores The Lions then suffocated the visitors out of the game, aided by previous finals experience and possibly the high altitude.
One of the key contributors was hooker Malcolm Marx, who has been immense this season. The Waratahs overturned a point halftime deficit to defeat the Highlanders in Sydney in their quarter-final. The Highlanders were in cruise control, up in the 52nd minute when the game was turned on its head with a yellow card to Waisake Naholo.
The Waratahs scored three tries in his absence and were able to shut the Highlanders out despite being a player down from the 74th minute onward. This fixture gives the Waratahs the opportunity to avenge their home defeat to the Lions in Round History is against them, however. The Waratahs have never won a playoff game in South Africa. Both sides have won 4 of their last 5 and both have gone in their last 9 games.
The Lions went against Australian teams during the regular season while the Waratahs went against South African opponents.
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