The weekend is here, and with it comes some epic clashes with both the round and oval ball. With so much going on, we’ve picked the 5 games you need to watch this weekend:
Chiefs v Sharks
The Chiefs are undoubtedly the team setting the pace of the tournament, but the two-time champions aren’t unbeatable. The ladder leaders were lucky to escape with a 28-27 win over the Hurricanes last week, and injuries to halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow, centre Charlie Ngatai and winger James Lowe will further test them. The Sharks snapped a worrying four-match winless run with an upset 15-14 win over the Highlanders last week in Dunedin. But winning on NZ territory, two games in a row, is tough and the Sharks will need to produce something special to achieve it.
Prediction: Chiefs by 13
Lions v Hurricanes
The Hurricanes have won eight of their nine meetings with the Lions, a defeat in 2007 the only blemish. But they face a difficult task against this year’s Lions side, who have emerged the South African standout at the halfway mark of this year’s competition. The ‘Canes are coming off a tough one-point loss at home to the Chiefs while the Lions tuned up with a 35-point mauling of the struggling Kings.
Prediction: Lions by 5
Stormers v Waratahs
The Waratahs have had an underwhelming season so far, but are still in the fight for a finals spot, however, things aren’t getting any easier for the 2014 champions. Newlands is a notoriously tough venue for visiting teams to triumph but the Tahs have a reasonable record there and are growing in confidence with the slick backline beginning to hit top gear. With a six-from-eight start, the Stormers are top of the South Africa conference.
Prediction: Stormers by 5
Manchester United v Leicester City
Leicester City are now just 90 minutes away from not only securing the most remarkable championship triumph in the modern history of English football, but doing so with two games to spare. Improbably, Claudio Ranieri’s collection of previously unheralded players hold a seven point lead over second-placed Tottenham heading into the final three games of the season. The title, fittingly, can now be secured with a victory at the home of the club that has won more English league titles than any other, Manchester United. Leicester is in superb form, but with United having conceded just once in their last three games, both teams may have to accept a stalemate.
Prediction: Manchester 1-1 Leicester City
Southampton v Manchester City
Southampton host Manchester City in the English Premier League on Saturday and it’s a vital game in terms of qualification for European football next season. City didn’t create much and had to work hard for a 0-0 draw at home to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi final on Tuesday. A long trip for a tough league match is hardly what they would have wanted before the return in Madrid in midweek, given they are in competition with Arsenal for third spot and the chasing pack are not done with yet. The close proximity of the visit to Madrid must have some sort of impact on City here, quite possibly in terms of team selection and also their mindset and they might just come unstuck.
Prediction: 1-0 to Southampton
What match are you most excited for this weekend? Let us know in the comments below and tweet us at @MenStuffZA.