Super Rugby Quarter-Final Preview

All times in Irish Time and live on Sky Sports

Brumbies V Highlanders

Kick Off: 9:00AM, Friday 22nd

Stadium: GIO Stadium Canberra

Super Haka Fans

Brumbies – Eoghain Shelrock, Fionn McPeake, Gus Harrington, Cillian Frawley, Luke Callanan

Highlanders – Barry Hurley, Darragh Slattery, Luke Kelly, Frank Dooley, Darragh Curtin

Star Men

Brumbies: Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Christian Leali’ifano, Matt Toomua, Tevita Kuridrani

Highlanders: Aaron Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith

Predicted First Try Scorer: Waisake Naholo

Game Changer – David Pocock: The Brumbies have missed the ruck guru that is David Pocock ever since they split up for the international break as the openside flanker fractured his eye socket versus England. He will hope to cause carnage to a Highlander’s pack which frequently out-do themselves.

Comment (Admin Paul): 

I can see the Highlanders snatching a victory in this battle as Brumbies, although they qualified have struggled to find a winning formula. A overrealliance on their forwards has led to them struggling against small sides. Highlanders started the season slowly but the reigning champs have picked up their form and after getting through the very hotly contested New Zealand Conference the only way is up for the Dunedin side.

Verdict: Highlanders by 15


Hurricanes V Sharks

Kick Off: 8:35, Saturday 23rd

Stadium: Westpac Stadium

Super Haka Fans

Hurricanes – Kieran O’Malley, Mikey O’Gorman, Jordan Curry, Tom Russell, Cathal Hynes

Sharks – Diarmuid Bynres, Colin Meagher, Nathan Morris, Ryan Hodge, Gearoid Ryan

Star Men

Hurricanes: Ardie Savea, TJ Perenera, Beaude Barrett, Corey Jane, Julian Savea

Sharks: Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen Willie Le Roux, JP Pieterson, Lwazi Mvovo

Predicted first try scorer: Beauden Barrett

Game Changer – Beauden Barrett: Barrett, who grew up in Ireland, is probably the world’s most in-form player at the moment. The All Black ten scored 15 points against the Crusaders last week after remastering his kicking technique.

Comment (Admin Ronan): 

For me there’s only one winner in this tie as the injury-hit Sharks are in fact very fortunate to reach this stage of the competition given their quality and their unconvincing performances in recent weeks reflects that. In contrast, unconvincing is a word in a different dimension than the Hurricanes who easily dispatched the Crusaders in Christchurch and with Barrett leading the way, they may well rack up a significant scoreline. 

Verdict: Hurricanes by 20+ 


Lions V Crusaders

Kick Off: 15:30, Saturday 23rd

Venue: Johannesburg Stadium

Super Haka Fans

LionsCian Long, Adam Barry, Jack Cosgrave, Thomas Joyce, Louis McCormick

CrusadersAaron Deegan, Sam Leahy, Conor McInerney, Kevin Hammond, Jake Connolly

Star Men

Lions -Jaco Kriel, Faf de Klerk,  Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck

Crusaders – Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, Richie Mo’unga, Israel Dagg

Predicted first try scorer: Ruan Combrinck

Game Changer – Faf de Klerk: The 5’9 Springbok pocket rocket has displayed lightning quick ball delivery all season and although many may tip the Crusaders to grind out a victory, the New Zealand side showed discomfort when the Hurricanes ran at them with pace last time out. If De Klerk can get plays firing as he has done for the Lions all season then they’ll be on their way to the semi-finals.

Comment (Admin Paul): 

In what is set to be the game of the weekend, two sides who could well have topped the table face off – The Crusaders, who have rediscovered their winning touch and the Lions, who have established a very strong young side. Both teams have been in extraordinary form despite the fact neither have as many internationals as others who have made it this far. However, this fixture may be an unfortunate development for Crusaders who have been known to struggle against fast paced sides this season. We mentioned Faf de Klerk for the Lions, but the emergence of Richie Mo’unga for Crusaders may be their one glimmer of hope as he has really been the star behind the excellent forward pack throughout. 

Verdict: Lions by 10 


Stormers V Chiefs

Kick Off: 18:00, Saturday 23rd

Venue: Newlands Stadium

Super Haka Fans

Stormers: Jennifer Ryan, Michael Hand, David Ryan, Andrea Copues, Cian Hurley

Chiefs: Jack Wall, Aron Calvert, Dean Callinan, Kieran Ryan, Jordan Johnson

Star Men

Stormers -Vincent Koch, Pieter Steph Du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Schalk Burger, Damian de Allende,

Chiefs – Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, Charlie Ngatai, Damian McKenzie

Predicted first try scorer: Sam Cane

Game Changer – Damian McKenzie: The dazzling Chiefs fullback was in confident form last weekend against the Highlanders in a scintillating match up. His running style from deep could be the difference between the two sides as the Stormers cannot boast of such star quality in their own back three division.

Comment (Admin Ronan): 

You can never right off the Stormers, especially when they have laid down as imposing a platform as their pack have done in the past six months or so. Eben Etzebeth and Pieter Steph Du Toit are in the form of their lives making up the most formidable lock partnership in Super Rugby while Vincent Koch has led a dominant scrum throughout. Unfortunately for the Cape Town team, it must be recognised that their opposition, the Chiefs, have them well outclassed in the back division and even their forwards posses silkier skills. Individual inspiration from McKenzie, Cruden or the likes, one or two moments of magic, should be enough for the visitors in my view. 

Verdict: Chiefs by 10



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