Super Rugby quarterfinals draw: Matchups, venues, times and predictions


After 15 rounds of thrilling rugby, it all comes down to this final three weeks. Knockout rugby sees the best rise to the top, and with Super Rugby a hard competition to read in 2024, we may be in store for another surprise or two.

Big wins to the Fijian Drua and Hurricanes locked in the top eight, with current champions the Crusaders, Moana Pasifika and the Western Force all missing out at the death.

It was a finals equation that truly went down to the wire, with the likes of sides like the Chiefs and Highlanders also fielding weaker sides to prep for the oncoming onslaught that is knockout footy.

But a ladder, we finally have. The Highlanders return to the finals picture, the Drua sneak in for the second year running, and the Rebels become the first Australian expansion side – in what will likely be their final season – to ever make finals.

The result is these four upcoming fixtures.

Here is a look at the times and matchups for the quarters.

The Reds celebrate after winning the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Queensland Reds at Yarrow Stadium, on May 12, 2023, in New Plymouth, New Zealand. (Photo by Andy Jackson/Getty Images)

Chiefs (4th) vs. Reds (5th), Friday, 7pm AEST @FMG Stadium, Hamilton

Ever since the Brad Thorn-coached Reds stunned the Chiefs in New Plymouth last year, a spicy rivalry has started to emerge between these two sides – with the Chiefs getting their revenge in the quarter-finals last year, only for the Reds to return the favour at Suncorp Stadium this year.

Both sides have been locked into this side of the ladder for some time, being unable to catch the top three, nor be caught by the chasing three sides – and both have been transparent for some time that they have prepping to face each other in this year’s finals campaign.

The Reds were given a scare by the Waratahs in the final round of the competition – but the Queensland side managed to weather the storm, Les Kiss and his side will take confidence from the guts shown to win back the Bob Templeton Cup – but will recognise they will need that and then some when they head across the ditch.

“You can pick that apart in a lot of ways. But we’ve got a final now. It’s another competition,” said Kiss post-match.

“We just need to focus on the things that we did do well. Let’s appreciate the fact that they did get their tails up and came at us. But we defended well.

“The Chiefs will have their purple patch probably longer than them [NSW]. So, we’ve got to be able to defend like we did tonight.

“But let’s not back away from our game. If we get good collisions and win some good quality ball, we know that we’ve got some danger there. But we’ve got to keep earning it for as long as we can.

“If we get 50 to 60 minutes of that type of footy [from the first half], we’re a chance. That’s all I can say.”

The Chiefs, meanwhile, have been coming how with a wet sail, winning four of their last six games. However, many questions have still been asked – their losses at home to the Hurricanes showed cracks, and while they were able to beat the Rebels in Melbourne, the seventh-placed side was able to exert significant pressure.

That is before you get to a rough night against the Blues, which saw them go down 31-17. However, even then, they showed themselves to be strong competitors, with the final play of the game denying the Blues a chance to top the ladder.

Despite this, they have made it clear they’ve been targeting this fixture, and many Australian sides, Reds included, have found it hard to wrangle the talent that is Damian McKenzie. Additionally, it has been a long time between drinks for any Australian side has won at the Tron – the last side to win there being the Brumbies in 2022.

Verdict: while Les Kiss’ side would likely be favourites if this fixture was playing out at Suncorp, the fact they have to make the trip across the ditch to face a likely full-strength Chiefs side will be challenging. The Reds have shown – even without one of their strongest players in Harry Wilson – they can match it and have it in them to dispatch Kiwi sides, plus have shown themselves to be able to match up against the Chiefs physically and mentally.

The Chiefs should be favourites at home – but expect this one to be decided by less than a try.

Rob Leota of the Rebels is tackled during the round five Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Melbourne Rebels at Central Energy Trust Arena, on March 22, 2024, in Palmerston North, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Hurricanes (1st) vs Rebels (8th) Saturday, 2:30pm @Sky Stadium, Wellington

The Rebels face oblivion on Saturday.

Sure, they have come further than any Rebels team before them – but lose on the weekend, and their finals campaign – and likely the entire club’s history as we know it – ends with it.

The Hurricanes have come roaring back into contention to top the ladder, with only a thrilling try to the Chiefs to deny the Blues a bonus point proving the difference between them.

This year they have enjoyed a strong record against the Australian sides, winning 54-28 in this corresponding fixture at the Cake Tin earlier this year.

Despite this, the last few rounds of the competition saw the Canes pick up losses against the other respective top three sides in the Brumbies and Blues – however it should also be highlighted that both of those sides had home advantage, and the fact that Clark Laidlaw’s men pushed both teams all the way suggests there is a lot of momentum still building out of Wellington – especially now they will be likely playing all their remaining games at home.

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The Rebels have not tasted victory since Round Eight’s win over the Highlanders – meaning they have lost their last six matches on the trot. While those losses came with some critical losing bonus points against quality opposition in the Reds and Chiefs, the lack of wins does not bode well.

Also, the Rebels have never beaten the Hurricanes in New Zealand, with their only victory against the Wellington side occurring way back in their debut season in 2011.

However, the Rebels are, as mentioned at the top, in unfamiliar territory – and knowing they hold the entire future of the franchise in their hands could galvanise them to make history.

Rob Leota highlighted in the post-match of their loss to the Drua how, despite the challenges, the team has banded together well.

“I’m just proud of – with the bit of the stuff going on off-field – but the way we showed up, we’ll be better for it next week, going into finals,” he said.

“[To the fans], we appreciate all your support back home, in Melbourne and even here in Fiji. To everyone in Melbourne, just stick with us, we’re into finals now and we’re looking to do a job and make you guys proud.”

Verdict: Whether it is a fairytale finish or not for the Rebels, the reality is going into this match the Hurricanes are the in-form team, with all the momentum, all the depth and the home-field advantage. The Rebels will be heading into a hostile environment and will have to do finals the hardest way possible. Maybe that will be enough.

The reality is, the Hurricanes will be heavy favourites for this fixture.

Caleb Clarke. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Blues (2nd) vs Fijian Drua (7th) Saturday, 5pm @Eden Park, Auckland

The Blues have been phenomenal in 2024, being one of the key improvers under the guidance of Vern Cotter. One of the hardest working and physical sides in the competition, they will be kicking themselves to miss out on a chance to go top of the ladder.

However, all is not lost for Auckland – a top-two finish is locked in, meaning they will have home-field advantage to the semis, should they make it. Add the return of All Blacks like Finlay Christie, and they still loom as a legitimate title contender.

This week, they will be up against one of the sides that have struggled the most on the road – the Fijian Drua.

The visitors will have to climb a mountain, buck an ugly trend from the last two years, and make history to win at Eden Park.

Fiji are still to grab a victory against the Blues, with the Auckland side being one of the few teams to beat Fiji in Fiji over the last few years. Add to this corresponding fixture earlier this year being a comprehensive 34-10 victory, and the scales tip even more in the Blues favour.

However, the Drua clearly have talent to challenge the best – as evidenced by their monumental form at home. Only one side – the top-placed Hurricanes, have been able to knock off Fiji at home – and that was in Suva. Lautoka, they remain a team-possessed.

However, the flip side is the Drua have not won on the road since Round One, 2023 – and that was against Moana Pasifika. It is a truly Jekyll-and-Hyde side, with only the Western Force having a home record coming close to being as spotty.

Verdict: The Blues will be overwhelming favourites at Eden Park. Not only do they sit in second, not only do they have the home-field advantage – but the Drua’s awful away record cannot be overlooked. Unless the Islanders buck that trend, this match could get ugly.

Corey Toole of the Brumbies charges towards the tryline to score during the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and ACT Brumbies at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on March 16, 2024, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Brumbies (3rd) vs Highlanders (6th) Saturday, 7:30pm @Bruce Stadium, Canberra

The guaranteed last home match of Super Rugby Pacific in Australia will play out in the capital, with the Brumbies facing the Highlanders.

The visitors have been one of the big improvers this season – taking a side with a smaller All-Black count compared to their Kiwi counterparts, and a massive roster rotation – and delivering one of their most positive seasons in years.

Coming home strong in the back half of the season and winning four of their last six matches, Clarke Dermody’s side (along with some quality guidance from Jamie Joseph), the Highlanders have shaken several monkeys off their backs – the biggest being breaking a losing streak to Kiwi opposition that stretched back to 2021!

Even better, they broke it against South Island rivals, the Crusaders.

However, they face a tough assignment this week against the Brumbies – who have enjoyed a strong record over the men from Dunedin.

Finishing one spot higher on last year, the Brumbies have recovered from a slow start to the year – which included ugly losses to the Blues and Chiefs, to post their most successful season in a decade.

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Winning their last five matches in a row, the Brumbies season has included some big scalps in the Hurricanes and Reds at Suncorp Stadium, highlighting how hard a team they can be to put away when on form.

Additionally, they also won their last three games on the trot against the Highlanders – with two of those games being away from home.

The hosts will be missing several key players – most notably James Slipper – due to injury, however, their record in Canberra has been one of the most imposing across the entire competition – having only lost three times at home since the Pacific iteration of Super Rugby began in 2022.

Speaking ahead of their match against the Force, coach Stephen Larkham was adamant though of several players being ready for finals, and that regardless, they are hungry to break a 20-year drought.

“The way that we play this weekend will impact the way that we’re playing next weekend,” Larkham said ahead of the Force game.

“Whether we need to win or don’t need to win any of those distractions are not front and centre of the players’ minds. They’re thinking about how they can perform best.”

Verdict: the clashes between these two sides have been entertaining, high-scoring affairs over the last few seasons – but with plenty of talent in the ranks and home-field advantage, the Brumbies should have enough to win here.

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