As the Super 14 hits week 10, the Sharks and Crusaders have established a good lead at the top of the table, but with just three points covering third to eighth, points will be vital for those still in the semi final hunt, while those down the bottom of the table are playing for pride.
Chiefs vs Crusaders
The round kicks off with a cracker of a game which will certainly be a sell out as sports fans descend on Hamilton for the V8 Supercars. The Chiefs have been on fire lately, riding a three game winning streak and, despite a poor start to the season, are now in position to claim a semi final spot. Coming off the bye has freshened up some niggling injuries to some players, but captain Jono Gibbs has not fully recovered from his hamstring tear. The Crusaders also come into this game with a fresh squad, having the bye two weeks ago and resting a number of key players last weekend. Stephen Brett returns from injury to claim the No. 10 jersey, while captain Richie McCaw is back after a week off. Of all the games this round, this will be the toughest to pick as both teams are in suberb form, but chances are the Crusaders will keep their unbeaten record intact.
Reds vs Force
The Force are very much a team out of form, losing two out of their last three games. Despite their poor form, they are still in contention for a semi final spot, but will need to pick up a win here. The Reds are fighting for pride, with just two wins from eight outings, but Wallaby jerseys will be on the line in this game. There are many clashes across the field which will have implications for the international season, most notably Cameron Shepherd against Clinton Schifkofske at fullback. The Force also go into this game without their play maker Matt Giteau, who was knocked out last weekend, but even without Giteau the Force should win this one, and hopefully get their season back on track.
Waratahs vs Lions
After being beaten by a Crusaders team which barely got out of second gear, there is no let up for the Lions as they face the in form Waratahs. Dispatching fellow semi final contenders the Blues and Force in the last two weeks has put the Waratahs in the drivers' seat, and a win over the Lions will only boost their already soaring confidence. Across the field the home side are just too classy for the Lions, who will hang tough initially, but will cave in the end.
Bulls vs Highlanders
After getting a lesson in rugby last week from the Hurricanes, the defending champions will be looking to restore some of their wounded pride with a home win. Sitting just one place about the bottom of the table, the Bulls have little to play for other than avoiding the wooden spoon. Just two points above them on the table, the HIghlanders are also playing for pride this season, but given their poor showing last week and the travel to South Africa, it seems the Bulls might just pull themselves away from the bottom of the table.
Stormers vs Hurricanes
Both teams picked up good wins in the republic last weekend, and will need the points if they are to keep their semi final hopes alive. Still displaying their Jekyll and Hyde form, the Hurricanes went from dreadful against the Sharks to magnificent against the Bulls, so which team will turn up is anyone's guess. The Stormers have recovered well after starting the season with three losses and are now the top South African team in the Super 14. With game breakers like Ma'a Nonu and Tonderai Chavhanga on the field, this game will be an exciting one, and could well come down to the kicking of Peter Grant and Jimmy Gopperth.