Looking at the matchups this weekend every game has that feel about it.
Reds vs Brumbies
The reds have lost 3 straight and need to win this to have any chance at being a contender. Also given the huge advantage that playing at home has been (so far this season in 25 of the 28 games the home team has won!) they have got to do the business.
The Brumbies however are still the team to beat, and with Bernie back at the pivot will really be expecting to win this one and continue their march up the table.
Chiefs vs Highlanders
Neither team has been super consistant but both have shown some good signs. The Highlanders have already been to SA and are sitting in 5th on the table so if they can pick up a win here they really do look good for a spot in the final four as 3 of their last 6 games are at home.
The Chiefs are coming off a bye though, and had an excellent win in Rotovegas two weeks ago so they will be feeling confident that they can win this one too. If they can then they will still be very much in the hunt for a semi-spot.
Cats vs Sharks
The top of the table Sharks take their unbeaten record on the road for the first time this season. The home cooking in Durban has put them in a great position at this stage but they won't be getting to play at home again unless they can win the rights to hosting a home semi.
The Cats are pretty much in the same boat, as they play their last home match before their tour to Australasia. They have looked tough at home but not unbeatable as the Brumbies proved two weeks ago (and the Hurricanes came close to last week).
Waratahs vs Blues
The young Waratahs team are in a similar position to the Highlanders, they have survived the trip to SA (and all their games against SA opponents) and are still in a great position on the table to consolidate a semi spot. They do have a tough run left though, with matches against four of the five NZ teams and both of their Aust rivals.
The Blues schedule is almost the opposite of the 'Tahs, with all their SA matches to come, including two in the Republic they really need to start showing some form and living up to their potential if they are going to be in contention for the finals. None of their victories have looked convincing yet and in their two losses they looked horrible. This is a key game for Toffee Pops and the boys.
Crusaders vs Hurricanes
The disappointing Hurricanes season has been well documented by now, along with the fact that they really need to win all of their remaining matches in order to reach the magical 30 point mark on the table and challenge for a playoff spot. Looking at their schedule it would appear to be an impossible task, but with the talent they have in their backs (and young loosies) it's not completely crazy. Add to that the fact that all their remaining matches are on NZ soil and you have one dangerous team. It's a real shame that they will have to beat all of the other NZ teams in order to achieve that, not the sort of spoiling that your average kiwi fan wants!
The Crusaders need to win this in the worst way, even if they win their remaining 3 home games they are going to have to pick up an away win or two (and probably in SA, fortunately they play the Stormers and Bulls!) in order to be in contention again. That makes this match key as they are off to SA next week. With Mehrts back they should be favourites, but those nasty Wellingtonians had the wood over the Red'n Black teams last season which is bound to be on the minds of both squads.
So a huge weekend of Super12 action ahead, with the competition wide open and all teams having everything to play for. I can't wait!