It is do or die for four teams in Super Rugby Elimination Finals with the Crusaders taking on the Reds, while the Brumbies host the Cheetahs. The Chiefs and Bulls will watch with interest as they are waiting to host the winners next week.
The home ground advantage is so crucial in Super Rugby when you consider how far it is from Christchurch to Pretoria. In many ways you wonder if the finals should all be played in a designated venue each year, because you could get the ridiculous scenario where a team may have to travel from New Zealand to South Africa and back to New Zealand playing elimination finals matches three weeks in a row. It will be interesting to see how the teams cope with the pressure of elimination rugby where their entire season is at stake!
For Super Rugby Elimination Finals team lists go to
Crusaders vs Reds
The Crusaders are in great form heading into their Elimination Final against the Reds, but the Reds won’t be an easy beat. These two teams haven’t met this year, but the Reds have the upper hand in recent times winning three of the last four matches between the two teams. The Crusaders won the last time these two teams met last year, while the Reds won the 2011 Super Rugby final against the Crusaders.
The teams have been named for this match and it promises to be a classic match. The Crusaders will rely on Dan Carter at first five eighth and their All Blacks laden forward pack to steam roll the Reds. They have called on the legendary Richie McCaw who returns via the bench.
It will be interesting to see how tired the Reds are following their British and Irish Lions tour and their hard fought win over the Waratahs. They will welcome back two influential leadership role models in James Horwill and Will Genia. The other key player for them is Quade Cooper. You get the feeling the Crusaders will enjoy nothing more than running at Cooper all night, especially when Richie McCaw comes off the bench. There will be no love lost between these teams!
I am picking the Crusaders narrowly.
Brumbies vs Cheetahs
The top Australian team, the Brumbies host the Cheetahs in another mouth-watering clash. The Brumbies have dominated the Cheetahs in recent seasons, but the Cheetahs have nothing to lose. It will be interesting to see how the Brumbies bounce back from their defeat against the Western Force and the aftermath of the British and Irish Lions tour.
The Cheetahs are coming off the bye and so they will be relatively fresh compared with their hosts.
This match is a potential banana skin for the Brumbies. The smart money is still on the Brumbies to raise their game from last week, but if you need to make up some positions by picking an upset, then this game is the one.
Who are you picking to win the Super Rugby Elimination Finals 2013?
Crusaders by 9
Brumbies by 10 – But if you need to chance your arm in your tipping competition, then pick the Cheetahs. The smart money is on the Brumbies though!