2017-03-10 by Liam Del Carme
BULLS v HIGHLANDERS
The Bulls are down in the dumps following the hammering they received at the hands of the Crusaders. They looked devoid of confidence and at times they looked poorly coached. To make matters worse they have lost Travis Ismaiel for at least six weeks with a knee injury. He joins Handre Pollard, Dries Swanepoel and Roelof Smit on the sidelines. They will however have Arno Botha available for selection along with Ruan Steenkamp.
The Highlanders come off the back of an incredible last gasp victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. The Highlanders will start clear favourites and may well win this one by more than 12 points.
KINGS v SHARKS
Sharks coach Robert du Preez noted after his team's win over the Western Force that their next opponents, the Kings, have started talking up Saturday's clash. The Kings have a spring in their step following back to back wins over the Waratahs and the Melbourne Rebels, while they came close to beating the Sharks earlier this season in Durban. They have since been looking forward to the return match.
They will do well to subdue a Sharks team that has lost just twice this season. They Sharks may not fire on all cylinders but they've fired on enough to sustain their Super Rugby challenge thus far. The visitors will start favourites but they will have to tread carefully.
JAGUARES v FORCE
After a promising start the Jaguares' season has gone backwards. They did beat the Sunwolves in Buenos Aires last weekend, but they struggled to do so against the second from bottom side in the competition. They do however have a reasonable record on home soil this season, but they did suffer a recent defeat to the Sharks. The Force have won just twice this season but they have battled hard in most games. They scrap for everything but their resources are stretched due to injury. Coach Dave Wessels lamented the absence of key personnel after his team's defeat against the Sharks. They are likely to add another defeat to their collection in Argentina.
CLERMONT v SARACENS
The European Champions Cup final is likely to be a desperately close affair. Clermont has been the nearly- team in European rugby forging a formidable reputation without having the silverware to back it up. Their record in play-off matches is poor and despite a slight wobble mid match against Leinster in the semifinals, they showed mental fortitude to get the job done.
They are however up against a team that is used to rising to the occasion in big matches. Saracens has established themselves as the best team in Europe the last two years and it is going to take a monumental effort to topple them. For that reason Saracens will start slight favourites, but don't be surprised if the teams are deadlocked after 80 minutes.
SHARKS XV v LEOPARDS
The Sharks XV beat the Griffons 52-24 in Welkom last weekend. They delivered a sterling second half after enjoying a slender lead at the break. It was a much needed win after losing the Griquas the week before 28-7.
The Leopards will be a tough nut to crack following victories over the Free State, Griquas and the Griffons. The Leopards top the central log and will start favouties.