ROUND 14 preview of 2012 Super 15 season.
CHIEFS V BULLS at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, 5.30pm
Chiefs: 2nd - nine wins, two losses; Bulls: 3rd - 8 wins, three losses
Last clash: R11 2011: Bulls 43 b Chiefs 27 in Pretoria.
The Chiefs are coming off the bye after their loss to the Reds and they will need Sonny Bill Williams to take more responsibility on his broad shoulders with Richard Kahui out for the season. The Bulls seem to be fading as their tour of Australasia takes its toll and they looked exhausted in the second half against the Highlanders. Springbok star Morne Steyn wasn't his usual reliable self with his kicking and he'll need to be in this one.
HURRICANES V REBELS at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 3.30pm
Hurricanes: 9th - six wins, six losses; Rebels: 10th - four wins, seven losses
Last clash: R6 2011: Rebels 42 b Hurricanes 25 in Melbourne.
The Rebels will be looking to win three in-a-row for the first time in the club's history while the Hurricanes will be keen to bounce back after the loss to the Brumbies last week. One concern for the Rebels will be their leaky defence. They've conceded more points than any other team in the competition and the Hurricanes have plenty of attacking talent in the backs.
BLUES V HIGHLANDERS at Eden Park, Auckland, 5.30pm
Blues:14th - two wins, 10 losses; Highlanders: 12th - eight wins, four losses
Last clash: R9 2012: Highlanders 30 b Blues 27 in Dunedin.
Diabolical. Disgraceful. Shocking. Appalling. Shameful. The Auckland media certainly didn't hold back after the Blues' pummelling by the Crusaders. The men from Dunedin took the points in their other encounter this year and it would be a brave man to suggest history won't repeat here especially as they now sit just two points off a playoff spot.
BRUMBIES V REDS at Canberra Stadium, Canberra, 7.30pm
Brumbies: 4th - seven wins, four losses; Reds: 8th - seven wins, five losses
Last clash: R7 2012: Reds 20 b Brumbies 13 in Brisbane.
The Brumbies proved they could win without five-eighth Christian Lealiifano last week after replacement No 10 Zach Holmes scored 22 points on debut against the Hurricanes. They are a well-coached and well drilled side that is highly organised in set pieces. Quade Cooper made a successful return for the Reds against the Lions last week and while the Reds were no doubt pleased to secure the bonus point, they weren't able to put the Lions to the sword.
FORCE V LIONS at nib Stadium, Perth, 9.40pm
Force: 12th - two wins, 10 losses; Lions: 15th - one win, 10 losses
Last clash: R5 2011: Force 27 b Lions 15 in Johannesburg.
The Force have lost their last six games while the Lions, who are coached John Mitchell, the foundation coach of the Force, have lost their last 10. Not exactly much to get enthused about except if Force give Alfie Mafi get a chance in the backline. History is on the side of the WA side with the Force going for five-in-a-row against the men from Johannesburg.
CHEETAHS V WARATAHS at Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein, 1.05am
Cheetahs: 12th - four wins, eight losses, Waratahs: 11th - four wins, eight losses
Last clash: R5 2011: Cheetahs 23 b Waratahs 3 in Sydney.
The Waratahs will be trying to end a four-game losing streak but they haven't won in South Africa since 2009. The New South Welshman need to finish the season strongly otherwise the might end up with the wooden spoon in the Aussie conference. The free-running Cheetahs will make life tough here. Forwards Rocky Elsom and Sitaleki Timani are still under injury clouds, and there is also uncertainty about halfback Brendan McKibbin, who has a groin strain.
SHARKS V STORMERS at ABSA Stadium, Durban, 3.10am
Sharks: 6th - seven wins, five losses; Stormers: 1st - 10 wins, one loss
Last clash: R2 2012: Stormers 15 b Sharks 12 in Cape Town
Both sides are coming off solid last-start victories and there was very little between them earlier in the year. One of the many Springboks on display could prove to be the difference. Whether that's Bismarck du Plessis, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana or Patrick Lambie remains to be seen.