Grab your snacks, get your couch ready, and prepare for a weekend full of massive sporting clashes, and MenStuff is giving you the lowdown on which encounters you have to catch:
Brumbies vs Crusaders (Super Rugby)
The Brumbies haven’t beaten the Crusaders since 2009, but there’s too much on the line for them to let that record continue. A bonus-point win and they could finish top-two for a home semi-final; anything less and they’ll likely be on a plane to South Africa on Monday. Matt Toomua makes his return from the bench and Henry Speight is free to play after rolling an ankle last week. While the Crusaders are out of finals contention, they’ll be eager to send off All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter winners.
Chiefs vs Hurricanes (Super Rugby)
The two time champions, the Chiefs, welcome back Sonny Bill Williams, who has been named to make his return after six weeks on the sidelines with a back injury. It’s welcome news for Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, who has made a host of other changes to the side that beat the Reds in Queensland last weekend. The top-placed Hurricanes have lost Beauden Barrett to a calf injury – bad news for people of New Plymouth, who would have been hoping to see the Taranaki product in action at a venue that changed allegiances from the `Canes to the Chiefs two years ago.
Waratahs vs Reds
The 300th meeting between these two states looms as a fairly significant one – the Tahs need a bonus-point win to lock in a home semi-final, while the Reds need a win to give departing club greats James Horwill and Will Genia (and possibly Quade Cooper, depending on who you listen to) the kind of farewell they didn’t get at home last week in their loss to the Chiefs. NSW’s Tatafu Polota-Nau will make his long-awaited return from concussion, Will Skelton is back from suspension while just about everyone else on the park will be out to curry favour with Waratahs and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Sharks vs Stormers
he Stormers are the only South African side in the playoffs and could propel into second overall with a win. It’s an unlikely scenario, though, given they’ll also need the Waratahs and Brumbies to both lose at home. Other than that they’ll have nothing at stake except potential injuries and exhaustion. The Sharks are coming off a bye and won their most recent two fixtures – against the Reds and Rebels.
Argentina vs Paraguay (COPA America football)
Argentina begin their quest to win a record-equalling 15th Copa America title on Saturday night when they face Paraguay at the Estadio La Portada. The runners-up of Group B will take on the winners of Group C – likely to be Brazil – in the quarter-finals, so to avoid facing the samba nation so early in the competition, three points in this encounter is a must. Recent clashes between this South American pair have rarely been relatively one-sided, so this should be no different. Argentina have the superior players and you would expect them to win this one by a comfortable margin. Expect some magic from the Argentines.
Brazil vs Peru (COPA America football)
Although Peru surpassed expectations by reaching the Copa America semi-finals in 2011, any thoughts of a similar run this time around are likely to prove wildly optimistic. Peru’s most realistic goal in Group C is to beat Venezuela and hope to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams. Brazil, of course, have recovered brilliantly from last year’s humiliating World Cup semi-final defeat to Germany. In nine friendly matches since that tournament, the team have been victorious in every one, The Selecao have a host of attacking stars at their disposal with the likes of Neymar, Willian and Coutinho leading a lethal team that is superior to Peru in all departments.
Which big sporting events are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments section below…