Here are our picks for Week 1 of the Super Rugby finals.
Crusaders v Reds
Christchurch, Friday 3/6 @ 7.05pm
The All-Star Crusaders will make minced meat of the Reds in the finals opener.
Last week’s first half gave us a glimpse of the gap in class between both sides. With Richie Mo’unga pulling the strings at 10, the Crusaders have no discernible weakness. The Reds know their fate and will struggle to strike a blow.
Whilst it might be a slow-burn, the Crusaders will get on top and give the Reds little ball. Late in the second half things will certainly open up and this margin will get very big. Cash in on the big minuses to secure some value.
Chiefs v Waratahs
Hamilton, Saturday @ 4.35pm
It’s been a brave season from the much-improved Waratahs but they will run into a brick wall on Saturday afternoon in the Tron.
The home side will dominate possession and field position thanks to the class of Retallick, Cane and Gatland. NSW will not be able to compete effectively and this minus is too small.
A huge gap in class exists between the starting XVs but it is only exacerbated when the benches are cleared. The Chiefs will win and win very well.
Blues v Highlanders
Eden Park, Saturday @ 7.05pm
The Blues will reaffirm their status as 2022’s best side with a hammering of the Highlanders.
There is little doubt the Blues will notch their 14th straight win in this one. RTS and Beaudie Barrett join forces with the scrumbase trio of Sotutu/Papalii/Ioane. Class will prevail in this mis-match.
The Blues bench showed their quality in Sydney last week and they will surealy capitalise on the big margin when they enter the fray. I expect this margin to hit 30+.
Brumbies v Hurricanes
Canberra, Saturday @ 9.45pm
The Hurricanes will eliminate the last of the Aussie sides in this clash set to be played in freezing conditions.
The Brumbies have been the most impressive Aussie side all season but they will have their work cut-out here. The ‘Canes have assembled their best possible line-up with Coles, Ardie and TJ sure to lean on their big-match experience. Jordie Barrett at 12 is an interesting call – Moorby needs to prove his worth at fullback. This will be close but the visitors are the value play.
If the Canes get on top I expect them to clear out when the Brumbies begin to panic. Love and Goosen off the bench may ice things with a late score or two.