Warriors v Panthers, 4pm Sunday, Mt Smart
Key storyline: It’s been a big week of player movement, with the club hanging onto Karl Lawton and letting Solomone Kata go. There’s also talk of Matt Lodge making a move to the Warriors, which will surely put the forward pack on notice. If Lodge does get signed, then at least one relatively high profile player will have to make way.
Will it be sweet or stink? The Warriors put on probably their best performance of the season the last time these sides met, beating the Panthers 30-10 back in round 10. Since then, the Panthers have climbed off the bottom of the ladder at least, so it should be an entertaining game. Prediction: Warriors by 10.
Elsewhere in the NRL, the Tigers upset the Rabbitohs last night by 14-9. Tonight the Dragons and Cowboys play in Kogorah, then the Roosters play the Storm at the Adelaide Oval. Saturday night has the Titans playing the Sea Eagles on the Gold Coast, then the Knights host the Broncos in Newcastle and the Eels play the Raiders in Darwin. The last game of the round is between the Bulldogs and Sharks in Sydney.
Jaguares v Brumbies, 10am Saturday, Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Key storyline: The Jags have timed their playoff run to perfection, and now host the battling Aussies in their debut semi-final. The bigger picture here is that the Jags are basically the Argentine national side in disguise, so a big win here will move them a step closer to a good World Cup performance.
Will it be sweet or stink? The Chiefs found out the hard way that Buenos Aires is a tough away trip last week, and it’s likely it’ll be the same result for the Brumbies. Prediction: Jags by 20
Crusaders v Hurricanes, 7:35pm Saturday, Christchurch Stadium
Key storyline: This is the big one, in some people’s eyes the actual final. The main showdown here is the clash at first five between Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga, with a strong showing by the Crusaders 10 sure to put pressure on the incumbent All Black.