With two chances of the winning streak against Australian sides ending and a local derby on the cards this week, 1 NEWS NOW rugby expert Campbell Burnes breaks down the latest round of Super Rugby action.
Hurricanes v Reds - Hurricanes by 23
The Hurricanes are resting Brad Shields, Vaea Fifita and Ngani Laumape, but they hardly look weaker for it. TJ Perenara will lead the side as they seek to rack up win No 40 in the NZ-Australia ‘series’. The Canes are still desperately seeking that elusive 80-minute display, so watch out whoever gets in their way. The Reds would love to keep it close after their shellacking in Tokyo.
Blues v Crusaders - Crusaders by 18
We tried to find any evidence to give credence to the chances of a Blues victory. There is none, not even Tana Umaga’s re-engagement for 2019. There is, however, a debut for Bombay and Steelers lock Matiaha Martin, so he will have a steep learning curve against the likes of Scott Barrett. How do you like the SBW-Ryan Crotty match-up at No 12, or Jordan Taufua versus Akira Ioane?
Waratahs v Highlanders - Highlanders by 10
The Waratahs will not be thrilled they have another Kiwi referee – Brendon Pickerill – for this trans-Tasman clash. But they also know another 40 minutes like their first half against the Crusaders should be good enough at home. The bad news is that Aaron Smith is back for the visitors, not to mention Jackson Hemopo, Dillon Hunt and Tevita Li. Form would suggest the Highlanders at a canter.
Sharks v Chiefs - Sharks by 11
Last weekend I did not give the Chiefs the benefit of the doubt, and they surprised me with their win in Cape Town. So I will again use the same tactic, knowing that thousands of their fans and the whole squad read this column and use it as motivation. Of more import is the fact the Sharks seem to go alright against the Kiwi teams, but struggle against fellow South Africans.