If it was difficult to muster much enthusiasm for last round’s Super Rugby games, then this week could not be more different. There’s almost too many epic clashes. Round 14 kicks off with the Chiefs hosting the Bulls. Both teams lost their place at the top of the ladder with their last defeat and are desperate to get things back on track. The Bulls in particular need to stem the tide of poor form and defeats that have come with this tour. Meanwhile the Chiefs are showing dangerous signs of regressing back to their bad habits of seasons gone by. Their 2012 trademark defense only leaked 8 tries in the first eleven rounds, only to leak another 8 tries in the last two games.
Challenging the Chiefs v Bulls for game of the round are local derbies Brumbies v Reds and Sharks v Stormers. Both matchups have major repercussions for conference standings. The Reds, with an on-fire Will Genia, are showing the sort of form that won them the championship last year. They also have Quade Cooper back for a second week. The Brumbies are still in the midst of a first five injury crisis, but held it together long enough to take the game from the Hurricanes last week.
The Sharks have been showing great form lately and will be hard to beat at home, even by the table-topping Stormers. If the Sharks win it creates a huge logjam in the South Africa conference top 3.
The fastest game of the round will surely be the Hurricanes v Rebels. The Hurricanes are counter attack specialists and the Rebels with Kurtley Beale at the helm are full of running. However, the Hurricanes should be too strong at home, particularly with the Rebels unable to pressure their set piece as other teams can.
Cripple fight of the round is a no contest. The Force have won twice this year and the Lions just once. The Lions will surely have an eye on the plane after a dismal road trip, but they are not known for giving up. Still, the Force should take it.
The Cheetahs host the Waratahs, who’s season is going from bad to worse. The finals can’t come soon enough for either team, but the Cheetahs are the more likely to try and go out with a bang.
Chiefs v Bulls
Friday 25 May at 19:35 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
RugbyFix Pick: CHIEFS to beat Bulls by 6
Hurricanes v Rebels
Saturday 26 May at 17:30 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
RugbyFix Pick: HURRICANES to beat Rebels by 14
Blues v Highlanders
Saturday 26 May at 19:35 at Eden Park, Auckland
RugbyFix Pick: HIGHLANDERS to beat Blues by 6
Brumbies v Reds
Saturday 26 May at 19:40 at Canberra Stadium, Canberra
RugbyFix Pick: BRUMBIES to beat Reds by 3
W Force v Lions
Saturday 26 May at 19:40 at NIB Stadium, Perth
RugbyFix Pick: FORCE to beat Lions by 7
Cheetahs v Waratahs
Saturday 26 May at 17:05 at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
RugbyFix Pick: CHEETAHS to beat Waratahs by 5
Sharks v Stormers
Saturday 26 May at 19:10 at Kings Park, Durban
RugbyFix Pick: SHARKS to beat Stormers by 2