Super Rugby round 10 preview
April 19, 2013
Friday, April 19
Demetri Catrakilis and the Southern Kings have returned home from a successful tour of New Zealand and Australia, and they host the Bulls in the final match of the round © Getty Images
Head-to-head: Played 7, Hurricanes 6, Force 1
In Wellington: Played 2, Hurricanes 2, Force 0
Last meeting: Round 3, 2012: Hurricanes bt the Force 46-19 at nib Stadium, Perth
Preview: The Force are on a high after their 16-14 win over the Crusaders, while the Hurricanes are licking their wounds following their 28-6 pummelling by the Blues. Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has made five changes to his squad, demoting first-choice halfback TJ Perenara to the bench and resting flanker Ardie Savea and former All Blacks lock Jason Eaton. The Force put in a Herculean defensive effort against the Crusaders last week, but the physical battering they copped in that game - combined with a six-day turnaround and the trip to New Zealand - might leave them vulnerable.
Tip: Hurricanes by 9
19:40 local, 09:40 GMT, 19:40 EST, 19:10 CST, 17:40 WST
Head-to-head: Played 17, Waratahs 10, Chiefs 7
In Sydney: Played 8, Waratahs 6, Chiefs 2
Last meeting: Round 6, 2012: Chiefs bt the Waratahs 30-13 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Preview: The Waratahs, your time starts now. With four losses from seven starts and no more bonus byes to prop them up, the 10th-placed Tahs resume well rested but knowing further home defeats will prove terminal as they try desperately to stay in touch with the top six at the halfway point of the competition. Coach Michael Cheika is relying on impact forwards Wycliff Palu and Tatafu Polota-Nau to reignite his side's finals charge, while imposing winger Cam Crawford gets his first crack at a starting spot. The Chiefs are smarting after their last-start loss to Queensland Reds, with coach Dave Rennie saying the defending champions are intent on atoning to get their own campaign back on track.
Tip: Waratahs by 3
Saturday, April 20
19:35 local, 07:35 GMT, 17:35 EST, 17:05 CST, 15:35 WST
Head-to-head: Played 22, Crusaders 14, Highlanders 8
In Christchurch: Played 11, Crusaders 9, Highlanders 2
Last meeting: Round 15, 2012: Crusaders bt the Highlanders 51-18 at AMI Stadium
Preview: The ninth-placed Crusaders can't afford to let too many more games slip if they are to make the finals for a 12th straight year. A resilient Force defence denied them a win last week, but they should encounter little trouble against the winless Highlanders. Dan Carter is still injured, but the Crusaders welcome back All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock and openside flanker Matt Todd to the starting line-up, with Zac Guildford named on the wing. Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is under the pump following seven straight losses, and the Crusaders are likely to heap even more misery on the struggling franchise.
Tip: Crusaders by 14
19:40 local, 09:40 GMT, 19:40 EST, 19:10 CST, 17:40 WST
Head-to-head: Played 21, Brumbies 17, Reds 4
In Brisbane: Played 9, Brumbies 7, Reds 2
Last meeting: Round 1, 2013: Brumbies bt the Reds 24-6 at Canberra Stadium
Preview: It's the biggest Australian derby of the year and both camps have done their best to win the pre-match mind games. Jake White kicked it off by calling the Reds "king favourites", and Ewen McKenzie happily highlighted the Brumbies as the team that kills the ball most often at the ruck. White responded with stats showing Queensland are penalised just as much, and it goes on. The Reds come off a superb 31-23 upset of the Chiefs and will field their strongest team of the season, with Digby Ioane back from injury. Wallabies teammate Pat McCabe remains on the Brumbies bench, while Fotu Auelua will start at No. 8. Expect a ding-dong contest, especially at the breakdown where George Smith and Liam Gill go head to head.
Tip: Reds by 7
17:05 local, 15:05 GMT, 01:05 EST +1d, 00:35 CST +1d, 23:05 WST
Head-to-head: Played 11, Sharks 7, Cheetahs 4
In Durban: Played 5, Sharks 3, Cheetahs 2
Last meeting: Round 2, 2013: Sharks bt the Cheetahs 29-22 at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Preview: The Cheetahs' five-match winning run was brought to a halt at the hands of the Bulls last week, but they remain one of the competition's form sides. The fifth-placed Sharks also suffered a loss, with accuracy and decision-making issues costing them against the Stormers. Both sides remain in the top six, but this weekend's result could be more crucial for the Sharks due to their coming four-match tour of Australia and New Zealand. History favours the Sharks, who have won their past five matches against the Cheetahs, but the Cheetahs are no longer easy-beats. This game should be a ripper.
Tip: Cheetahs by 1
19:10 local, 17:10 GMT, 03:10 EST +1d, 02:40 CST +1d, 01:10 WST +1d
Head to head: First meeting
Preview: The Kings continue to be the big surprise packets of the season with another upset of an Australian side in Melbourne last weekend. Their tenacity and spirit over 80 minutes means the Bulls must be switched on to make a success of their first trip to Port Elizabeth. The Pretoria-based outfit returned to form by ending the red-hot Cheetahs' five-match win streak last week, and they will take in an unchanged starting side. Bjorn Basson returns from injury to their bench. The Kings must overcome their heavy travel load, but they should have feverish support in the stands at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. And fly-half Demetri Catrakilis has the boot to challenge Morne Steyn in a penalty goal shootout.
Tip: Bulls by 10
Bye: Melbourne Rebels, Stormers, Blues
Make your ESPN FootyTips selections for Super Rugby round 10
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold