The home and away season of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament will conclude in Round 5.
Next weekend’s final will feature two New Zealand sides, and each of the Blues, Crusaders and Highlanders will be eager to record dominant wins this weekend, to allow the best possible chance of making next weekend’s decider.
The Hurricanes will start clear favourites against the Reds in Wellington on Friday afternoon despite becoming just the second New Zealand side to lose in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament when they were outmuscled and outdone by the Brumbies in Round 4.
They’ll be eager to respond and returning home, they deserve their favouritism, but their Round 5 opponents are by no means easy beats.
Queensland backed up its Round 3 win over the Chiefs with another competitive performance, though disappointing loss to the Blues.
It’d take plenty for them to win abroad, but I’m confident that they’ll be competitive again.
Australia’s greatest hope of a Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Round 5 win looks to lie with the Brumbies, when they take on the Highlanders in the nation’s capital on Friday night.
They have continued to improve with each match since the beginning of the Trans-Tasman tournament, and the Brumbies were rewarded with a tough win over the Hurricanes last week.
With their confidence sky high after that win, playing at home on a chilly night, they are a real winning chance here.
The Highlanders have recorded four wins from as many Super Rugby Trans-Tasman matches, and they are capable of making the final.
I genuinely believe that this is the toughest task that they have faced however, and I’m going to take the value around the home side.
The Rebels’ season will conclude at their adoptive home, Leichardt Oval in Sydney’s inner-west on Saturday afternoon, and they face the unenviable task of playing the Crusaders.
Despite having lost all four of their matches in this tournament, they have improved with each match, much like the Brumbies and they enter this off the back of a credible 36-26 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The Crusaders have looked good even when they’ve done things wrong, and they’ll look to close out the regular season and gain a hopeful berth in the final with a big win.
The Blues enter Round 5 of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman on top of the ladder, and a win over the Western Force will be enough to see them into the final.
They have clearly been excellent in this Trans-Tasman tournament, but they weathered their toughest fight of the season against the Reds in Brisbane last week, and walked away winners.
Returning home and dropping in class, this seems a pretty open and shut case.
The Force have mixed their form in this competition, and they are simply impossible to tip away and against the competition leaders.
The final match of the round and home and away season will see the Waratahs and Chiefs do battle in Sydney on Saturday night.
For a team that hasn’t won a game all year, the Waratahs actually haven’t been awful against the New Zealand sides, and they’ve managed to score plenty of points.
The Chiefs are one of only two New Zealand sides to have tasted defeat at the hands of an Australian team, and they’ll be eager to end their season on a winning note.