AAP

The Queensland Reds will head to Christchurch confident of conquering the Crusaders to complete an unprecedented sweep of New Zealand opposition and keep their Super Rugby championship hopes alive.

Like Australian conference winners the Brumbies, Queensland must win three sudden-death finals games in a row to snatch the title and Reds coach Ewen McKenzie acknowledged the "significant challenge" of beating the Crusaders on their home patch.

But the Reds are not only drawing hope from three wins from their past four starts against the seven-time champions, but also the fact they have already accounted for the title-holding Chiefs as well as the Blues, Hurricanes and Highlanders in 2013.

Toppling all five New Zealand franchises in a single season would be a Super Rugby first.

"You've got to back yourself, especially at this time of the year," said Reds stand-in captain James Slipper after deputising for the injured James Horwill in Saturday night's 14-12 final round derby win over the NSW Waratahs.

"Every time we do go over there, it's always a tough game but our record speaks for itself."

McKenzie admitted the Reds were less than impressive in their mistake-riddled win over the Waratahs and that the Crusaders had found their best form at the right time of the season.

"But it's better to go into the finals with a win than a loss. That momentum is good," he said.

"We've played the Crusaders so often in the past few years so they're pretty familiar to us.

"We've probably had as good a record as anyone against them in recent times, but they're pretty hard to beat there at home.

"But we've been able to find a way in the past, so we'll go there with some confidence.

"We've got enough tools there to win the game if we get it right."

The Reds will be bolstered by the return of Horwill and halfback general Will Genia on Saturday night, but without winger Rod Davies, who suffered a serious knee injury against the Waratahs.

The Crusaders could have All Blacks captain Richie McCaw back after the classy flanker made his return from his seven-month sabbatical in club rugby at the weekend, but McKenzie was unfazed.

"There's a bunch of guys there that have been plugging away and doing the work and who got them to where they are on the ladder, so I'm not sure they need to rush anything there," McKenzie said.

"But maybe he might appear as an impact player. I'm not sure. If he's there, he's there."

The Brumbies will host South Africa's Cheetahs in Canberra on Sunday afternoon after blowing a big opportunity to gain a vital edge in the playoffs.

The Brumbies qualified for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2004, but their 21-15 last-round slip-up against the lowly Western Force in Perth on Saturday night was costly.

Had they scored a bonus-point win over the 13th-placed Force, the Brumbies would have clinched an all-important top-two spot, enjoyed next weekend off and remained well-positioned for a home final.

Instead, they finished third behind the Chiefs and Bulls and face an uphill battle to even make the August 3 final.

Ten of the past 12 Super Rugby titles have been won by the minor premiers, meaning history favours the Chiefs to go back-to-back.

The Chiefs and Bulls get a fortnight's break before hosting the semi-finals in Hamilton and Pretoria respectively.

If the Brumbies beat the Cheetahs, they will take on the Bulls while the Reds will meet the Chiefs if they down the Crusaders.