Highlanders vs Crusader
The Crusaders have not lost since the opening round, and look like the team of old, that used to win trophies for fun. The Highlanders snapped a two game losing streak as they overcame the Chiefs in style, with Waisake Naholo straight back to his best to bag a brace. The Crusaders have a good record against the Highlanders, and the momentum they’ve got just feels insatiable at the moment. It will be incredibly close, however. Crusaders by 4
Rebels vs Brumbies
Both of these sides started strongly, before simultaneously succumbing to bouts of serious inconsistency. Neither side has recorded back to back wins since way back in round four, so given that the Brumbies won last week and the Rebels lost, fans of statistical patterns will be backing the men from Melbourne here. That said, the Rebels are yet to beat a side in the top half of the table. Again it should be tight, but the Brumbies are good enough to get the win here. Brumbies by 7.
Hurricanes vs Reds
The Hurricanes were blown away by a powerful performance by the Sharks last weekend, but it is unlikely that the Reds will be able to replicate that to good enough effect. The men from Wellington are still committed to their all court running game, and it should be more than enough to blow away a limited Reds side. Hurricanes by 12
Waratahs vs Bulls
The Bulls were brought back down to earth by the Brumbies last round, a game which they never threatened to win. Indeed, they are yet to beat a team in the top half of the table – which is amazing when you consider that they have lost just twice. The Waratahs may not be there either, but they are hitting form ominously, winning their last three, including two against South African opposition. They have a terrible record against the Bulls, winning only one in their last nine – but crucially that one win was the most recent one, in Sydney. They should repeat that this weekend. Waratahs by 9.
Sunwolves vs Stormers
Quite a few people were caught out by the Sunwolves’ loss to the Force last weekend, but in truth they are still a hugely young side that is going to struggle against more established outfits for the near future. With that in mind, it is the perfect game for the Stormers to bounce back in after their disappointing home loss to the Waratahs. They should be too powerful and precise for the Japanese newbies. Stormers by 21.
Cheetahs vs Kings
This could be a massively high-scoring game, given the defensive frailties of these two sides. The Cheetahs will be happy to see home soil, after a dispiriting tour of Australia that saw three reasonably heavy losses. By the end of the game against the Waratahs last week they looked completely out on their feet. Perennial whipping boys the Kings, then, represent the perfect tonic, and while they likely won’t repeat the 92 point haul of a few weeks ago, the home side should win this very comfortably. Cheetahs by 18
Lions vs Blues
The Blues notched their first win since 2012 in South Africa against the Kings last weekend, but in truth the scoreline probably flattered them in what was a scrappy game in horrible conditions. The Lions have had a week off to come to terms with another pummelling at home by a Kiwi side, after they shipped 50 points to the Hurricanes. The Blues, then, will arrive holding no fear, but in reality they are several notches below the other New Zealand franchises at the moment, and the men from Johannesburg should be good enough to return to winning ways. Lions by 12.
Jaguares vs Sharks
The round ends in Argentina, when the Sharks arrive in Buenos Aires fresh from a morale-boosting win over the Hurricanes. They outmuscled and out-thought the Kiwi side, and deserve kudos for an excellent win. The Jaguares, despite their record of two wins from nine games, are a tough prospect and only lost the corresponding fixture in Durban by four points, despite being down to 13 men at one stage. It is tempting to plump for an upset, but as it’s still (relatively) early in the SuperBru season, the head dictates that you should probably play it safe for now. Sharks by 8