The Roar’s Super Rugby expert tips and predictions, Round 12: The game of the season headlines a round of blockbusters


It’s blockbuster week in Super Rugby Pacific for Round 12 – on both sides of the Tasman.

In Australia, we have the Waratahs and the Brumbies locking horns in Sydney, while up north, the Reds will be looking to keep their home final chances alive against the Rebels.

But Satruday will be dominated by what’s going on in the land of the long white cloud – the Highlanders and Crusaders battle to rule the South Island (and keep finals hopes on track), while Eden Park features a top-of-the-table bout between the Highlanders and the Blues that might just decide who hosts this year’s decider.

All up, it’s an action-packed weekend – so who do our experts think gets the job done?

Christy Doran

Chiefs, Reds, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Brumbies, Force

We’ve reached the pointy end of the competition – and in our tipping comps, too. Forget about beating my fellow experts – it’s the crowd who I’m chasing currently.

Round 12 looks like a relatively straightforward one to tip, but there are a few games that could go either way.

Even without Damian McKenzie, the Chiefs won’t slip up against Moana Pasifika. Tana Umaga’s men spent last weekend playing in the rain and mud and that travel and playing fatigue could catch up to them. Plus, Umaga has been forced into sweeping changes – that’s never a good thing when you’re outside the top eight.

The Reds are the heavy favourites and should put away the Rebels well. But Les Kiss’ side has struggled to win the games they’re backed in for. It’s why discipline and winning the contact zone is essential this weekend.

The Hurricanes travel to Eden Park for Saturday afternoon rugby and the clash looks like being one of the games of the season. I’ve switched to tipping the Hurricanes.

The Blues are without Stephen Perofeta and Rieko Ioane and they’re big losses against a Hurricanes side that are only really missing Asafo Aumua. Mind you, that’s a big out. It’ll be a belter.

I keep tipping the Crusaders, only to be let down. That’s probably eight or nine points let slip throughout the year, but I’ll tip them again. The return of Codie Taylor swings it. He’s a proper player. The Highlanders have won consecutive matches but that says more about their opposition than the men from Dunedin.

The Brumbies have lost James Slipper and Billy Pollard and that’ll hurt. Noah Lolesio is also out. Stephe Larkham’s men still should have way too much for the Waratahs, particularly in the second half. With Sydney copping plenty of rain, this clash will be won over the grind of the opening 50 minutes. 

The Force were smashed by the Chiefs last week, but the Drua arrive in Perth having lost 19 of 20 away fixtures. They were better last week against the Brumbies, but few teams like playing in Perth.

I’ll tip the Force, who welcome back Nic White amongst others.

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Julian Heaven. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Nick Wasiliev

Chiefs, Reds, Blues, Crusaders, Brumbies, Force

It’s the run home! Time to put our emotional investment on the line, once again.

With the Reds and Brumbies set for a good run, I’m hoping we can get at least two good contenders up the right end of the ladder in a month’s time. Damian McKenzie and Emoni Nawara might be out, but the Chiefs still are the better side on paper, and likely on the park.

While I’ve been impressed with Tana Umaga’s progress with Moana Pasifika, I think the loss in Tonga is a critical blow for their finals hopes and season – they have a hard couple of games coming up.

Queensland have a great opportunity to launch up the ladder of the next few weeks, and they need to execute some key wins here. Tate McDermott and James O’Connor are good returns, and the decision to start Sef Fa’agase is a bold one up against the likes of Taniela Tupou.

The Reds are playing more cohesive rugby, and while the Rebels are desperate to consolidate a maiden finals berth, I don’t see it happening at Suncorp.

Game of the round, maybe the game of the year on Saturday across the pond! Reiko Ioane is a big loss, but I have major props on Zarn Sullivan. It’s the match of pure physicality, whoever wins that contest wins the game. I know I backed the Hurricanes in the preview podcast, but I’m flipping again – Blues to win in a thriller!

Up next is the South Island derby, which is a personal favourite of mine. It might feature the two misfiring Kiwi sides, but it should still be a banger with the Zoo coming out in full force.

I wanted, hand on heart, to say the Highlanders end their losing streak to Kiwi teams here, but then I saw Tamaiti Williams and Codie Taylor get the nod. Ethan de Groot is a welcome return, but it won’t be enough. Saders will take it. 

It’s Tah week, baby! My favourite match of the year, hands down.

While I think the loan inclusions for Darren Coleman are sorely needed, the forward pack is going to struggle for the hosts. Brumbies have made a good call to have both youth and experience in the starting pack and the bench. The loose-forward battle should be especially good! Brumbies, by a try or less.

The Force will be so glad to be back home, but gosh darn it, they need to show up. Izack Rodda is a welcome return, as is Harry Hoopert, but that Force pack will have to work hard to win this game.

For the Drua, this is the best chance they’ll get this season to win a match on the road. History is really against them. I’m going with the hosts, but with no confidence at all. 

Hamish Bidwell

Chiefs, Reds, Blues, Highlanders, Brumbies, Fijian Drua

The finals can’t get here soon enough so we can have an end to teams having to box out of their weight division.

I think the Rebels have had a really commendable season and could see them winning this one. Even so, I’ll tip the Reds.

I reckon that if I go against the Hurricanes, they find a way to win. Let’s hope so.

It would be good to see the Highlanders put Crusaders fans out of their misery and completely shut the door on 2024.
Later that night, it’ll be the Brumbies by plenty over the Waraths.

I’m a little conflicted over the last game of the round, but assume the Drua will get home narrowly over the Force in Perth.

Josh Flook. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Tony Harper

Chiefs, Reds, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Brumbies, Fijian Drua



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