1 NEWS NOW expert's Super Rugby predictions: Hurricanes to edge Crusaders in a dramatic top of the table clash

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1 NEWS NOW rugby expert Campbell Burnes breaks down the latest round of Super Rugby action.

Hurricanes player Beauden Barrett during their Super Rugby Pre-Season game Crusaders v Hurricanes. Lansdowne Park, Blenheim, New Zealand. Friday 19 February 2016. Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz

Source: 1 NEWS

Crusaders v Hurricanes - Hurricanes by 1

Watch for the Hurricanes to edge a dramatic top of the table clash and move into pole position. This statement is not just based on the fact that the Crusaders pack is depleted through injury and suspension, and that No 8 Jordan Taufua is a late scratching.

But the Hurricanes are due another dominant outing, having headed the Crusaders with their physicality in March. Matt Todd versus Ardie Savea, not to mention Ben Lam versus Seta Tamanivalu, will be match-ups to monitor closely.

Chiefs v Waratahs - Chiefs by 3

Karl Tu’Inukuafe of the Chiefs drives forward

Karl Tu’Inukuafe of the Chiefs drives forward

Source: Photosport

Buoyed by their hiding of the Highlanders last weekend, the Waratahs are virtually unchanged, but have promoted sniping halfback Nick Phipps. The Chiefs are back in the comforts of home, but still do not have Sam Cane.

So it's over to Mitch Karpik to show his considerable wares against Michael Hooper. Finally we get to see the midfield pairing of Charlie Ngatai and Anton Lienert-Brown in tandem. Pundits will be paying closer attention to new All Blacks selection, prop Karl Tu'inukuafe. This will not be a blowout either way.

Reds v Highlanders - Reds by 3

Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium

Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium

Source: Getty

Sometimes shocking news – such as the fact that Reds prop James Slipper has tested positive for cocaine – can have a galvanising effect on a team.

That is what I am picking with the Reds, so gallant on defeat in Wellington last Friday, and who now host a side to whom they have never lost at Suncorp. Furthermore, the Highlanders are resting a clutch of All Blacks, including Ben Smith. The upside is that Liam Squire makes a long-awaited return via the bench.

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