6 Bold Predictions for Super Rugby Round 10
There are some key derbies this weekend that can alter things in each of the Super Rugby conferences.
In South Africa, the Sharks face a potential banana skin against the high-scoring Cheetahs, while the Brumbies must sit back and watch as both the Force and the Waratahs attempt to remove them from top spot in the Australian section.
In New Zealand, the Crusaders go at it with the Chiefs, and the Blues try to shake off their sorry away form in Wellington.
There's never a dull moment in Super Rugby.
1. Super Six for the Force
It is now five wins in a row for the Western Force.
This week they travel to the team against whom their winning streak began. Michael Foley's men took the Melbourne Rebels to the cleaners in Round 4, and form would point to another win for the Perth men.
There is nothing fancy about the way this team plays its rugby, but they are proving mightily effective at present.
Against a Waratahs side who enjoyed more possession and more territory, the Force used what ball they had well and in Nick Cummins had a try-scorer who was able to pounce on the slightest opportunity.
It has to be a sixth-straight victory.
2. Cheetahs Will Shock Sharks
They may have been leaking tries at a horrifying rate, but there is one reason to give the Cheetahs a chance against the league leaders this weekend: they are the competition's highest scorers.
That tag takes some earning in Super Rugby, but the men from Bloemfontein are its current owners.
It is time they had a slice of luck on their side, and it will come their way against the men from Durban.
The Sharks have looked solid without being spectacular so far, which has been enough, but if the Cheetahs maintain their capacity for piling up points and discover some semblance of a defensive strategy, Jake White's team could be in trouble.
Cheetahs to win.
3. Folau to Come out Firing
Israel Folau had plenty to say about his withdrawal from the Waratahs' line-up last week.
The Wallabies full-back had been in scintillating early-season form until a throat injury sustained against the Rebels curtailed his involvement.
He was due to return last week until the Australian Rugby Union stepped in and pulled him out of the match with the Force.
But he has been given their blessing to start against the Bulls in Round 10 and must be like a dog straining at the leash.
The Waratahs have won just once without him and will hope he comes back in the same form he departed.
Folau to score, 'Tahs to win.
4. Crusaders to Crush Chiefs
The Crusaders return to New Zealand after two confidence-boosting wins on the road in South Africa.
In stark contrast, the Chiefs have been stuttering of late. Two draws in South Africa and an unconvincing win over the Rebels on their home patch have not convinced many that this team can make it three titles in a row.
They welcome back Brodie Retallick for this derby, but his return may not be enough to rubber stamp their status as conference leaders.
The Crusaders have established momentum and are good enough walk away from Waikato with a win.
5. Stormers Will Edge Lions
Two sides struggling for consistency meet at Newlands when the Stormers host the Lions.
The visitors won four of their first six games but have slipped off that early-season form, while the Stomers have been battling a tide of injuries all season.
Home advantage favours the Stormers this weekend, though, and they will register a win in this South African derby
6. Blues Edge Basement Battle
This is possibly the boldest of this week's bold predictions, given the Blues' woeful away record under John Kirwan.
They have lost 11 on the bounce away from Auckland under the 1987 World Cup winner, which doesn't bode well for their visit to Wellington.
But the Hurricanes have blown hot and cold this season, and they are by no means a sure bet.
Blues to win away, and tilt the rugby world on its axis.