Currently only two New Zealand teams are in the top eight, which is unheard of. As the log sits, the South African Conference would have four teams qualifying, with three teams from Mzansi. Today the Crusaders play the Rebels at home, after some crazy travel for the Crusaders over the past month, and a shock defeat to the Chiefs in Fiji.
The bookies have Crusaders as 20 point favourites, against a decent Rebels side, who are likely of a quarter-final spot too. I would have to favour the visiting Rebels on that generous handicap.
In Australia it's the Waratahs versus the Brumbies, in an all Oz derby and a very even match-up. The visiting Brumbies are slight favourites at 8/10 and Waratahs are at 1/1. Its hard to call this but the visitors are my pick, and with a win here they will secure top of their Conference.
Locally we have the Lions hosting the Hurricanes in what should be the pick of the games, a potentially high scoring match. If played right our home span can pull off a great upset here, which makes me want to stay away from a punt.
Also, the Canes' half-backs will be celebrating 100 games as a pairing and I think even at altitude they will win this by the handicapped three points.
The second local dish is Stormers in Cape Town versus Sunwolves, who shouldn’t be underestimated. The handicap is 25 points, which is a bunch. Given how tight our Conference is, the Stormers would expect a big bonus point win before next week's game against the Sharks. I expect them to win big and cover the spread.
Lastly, the Jaguares host the Sharks tonight. The home team are frontrunners in the Conference and face a Sharks team off a loss at home. The Sharks have made key positional changes, at No10 and No15. I’m unsure why, but you never know with that Ballie Du Preez.
Based on that bizarre call, I reckon the Sharks will take another loss by the eight-point handicap.
In football, the Women's World Cup kicks off, where Banyana are competing. Not much can be expected of them in a very tough pool, but they may do better than the Proteas, who knows?
There is also the Cosafa Cup final in Durban at Moses Mabhida stadium. Botswana play Zambia, and our Tswana neighbours are heavy outsiders at 28/10, with Zambia priced at 1/1. Zambia are good for their price, so get stuck in.
In European football it’s the beginning and the end, where Europe's nations league has its final and it's the start of the qualifiers for Euro 2020.
The final will be contested kusasa between Portugal and The Netherlands. Ronaldo and his team go in as favourites at 14/10, but I must say I fancy the Dutch at their juicy price of 2/1 to get one over the Portuguese.
Then there is the French Open tennis finals being served up. It’s the usual suspects in the men’s and some complete unknowns in the ladies' draw, as we called it a week ago. Today the women’s final takes place where my money will be on Ashley Barty to lift the trophy.
In the men’s game Nadal is going for his third hat-trick and 12th French Open title, and is good for his price of 5/10.
Eish and then there is the cricket, which is seemingly over for the Proteas. Some are still living pipe-dreams and think we will turn it around. The Windies game on Monday is do or die but I fear their bowling attack (reminiscent of old), will decimate us. Pack your bags supporters, come home and save your bucks for Tokyo in September. Over the next couple of days, I fancy England, New Zealand, India and West Indies to all win their next games.
A salute and good luck to all Comrades runners this weekend, where Bong’musa Mthembu is up for a hat-trick and the girls' race should be highly competitive and very interesting.
Sangoma signing off.@shabsgunner
Independent on Saturday