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Super Rugby Quarter-Finals preview panel

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/07/2016

Preview of Super Rugby Quarter-Finals (all times NZT):

FRIDAY, July 22

Brumbies v Highlanders at GIO Stadium, Canberra 8.05pm

Head to Head: Played 20 Brumbies 12 Highlanders 8

In Canberra: Played 10 Brumbies 8 Highlanders 2

Last clash: Round 10 2016 - Highlanders 23 bt Brumbies 10 at Rugby Park Stadium

The Brumbies - Australia's only representative in the playoffs - face an uphill battle to beat the defending champions, who are known for their clever and varied tactical game. The return of openside flanker David Pocock will provide a huge boost and help slow the Kiwis' pacy style of play, while the addition of Robbie Coleman on the wing brings some valuable experience. The Highlanders, meanwhile, get co-captain Shane Christie back from illness and have given new All Black Liam Squire a start at No.8. The Brumbies have won seven of their past nine meetings, but lost their last in round 10.

Tip: Highlanders by 10 points


Hurricanes v Sharks at Westpac Stadium, Wellington 7.35pm

Head to Head: Played 18 Hurricanes 8 Sharks 9 drawn 1

In Wellington: Played 7 Hurricanes 5 Sharks 1 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 11 2016 - Sharks 32 bt Hurricanes 15 at Kings Park Stadium

The Hurricanes have won five in a row since losing to the Sharks in Durban. All Blacks winger Julian Savea has been relegated to the bench as part of a backline reshuffle. Although the Sharks have won six of their last nine against the Canes, only one of those was in New Zealand and it's hard to see them prevailing this time.

Tip: Hurricanes by 13 points

SUNDAY, July 24

Lions v Crusaders at Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg 2.30am

Head to Head: Played 17 Lions 3 Crusaders 14

In Johannesburg: Played 8 Lions 2 Crusaders 6

Last clash: Round 6 2016 - Crusaders 43 bt Lions 37 at Emirates Airlines Park

The Lions were very much the surprise packet of the Super Rugby season, but a playoff tussle with the seven-time Super champions will show whether they are the real deal. The Crusaders have already won in the Lions' den this season and have triumphed in their past seven matches against that side. The Lions' star players will be back in harness this week after they fielded a second-string side last week, but flirting with a winning combination could prove costly.

Tip: Crusaders by four points

Stormers v Chiefs at Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town 5am

Head to Head: Played 17 Stormers 9 Chiefs 8

In Cape Town: Played 8 Stormers 5 Chiefs 3

Last clash: Round 5 2015 - Chiefs 28 bt Stormers 19 at Newlands Rugby Stadium

The Stormers have struggled in previous finals, winning just one out of seven and none of their past four. The competition's much-criticised draw meant they didn't play a single game against New Zealand opposition this season. That alone casts serious doubt over whether they can handle a more battle-hardened, finals-proven side in the Chiefs.

Tip: Chiefs by six points

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