Super Rugby Pacific, Round 15 - Teams and Predictions
A LONG JOURNEY: The final round of the regular season is upon us as teams look to cement their spot in the Super Rugby Pacific finals.
Whilst the Blues have wrapped up the minor premiership, there are still plenty of positions up for grabs across the top four and top eight.
This starts in Christchurch as the Crusaders taking on the Queensland Reds. It shapes as a quarterfinal preview with Scott Robertson’s men eager to build momentum after last week’s crushing win over the Fijian Drua.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Reds are boosted by the return of Liam Wright as they look to find some form at the right end of the season.
Nine straight wins against the Reds support the Crusaders’ standing as a great Super Rugby powerhouse, while 18 consecutive losses away from home against New Zealand opposition indicate where the Reds’ room for improvement lies.
A 20-24 loss in the Reds’ last visit two years ago gives them hope, though.
“It’s pretty similar circumstances … all we did back then was show a bit of fight, put ourselves on the line for each other,” said Wright, who returns from a serious ankle injury via the bench.
“We want to take it to them; it’s a strong team, a lot of people have probably written us off.
“We haven’t been playing the way we wanted to despite getting the win [against Moana Pasifika] last weekend.
“We need to improve again to get a bit more momentum into finals and what a challenge this week.”
The Reds will be without injured Wallabies trio James O’Connor, Taniela Tupou and Hunter Paisami, while England-bound lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto wasn’t selected.
Jordan Petaia will play outside centre for the first time this season, with Lawson Creighton back in the No.10 and Jock Campbell continuing his Test audition at fullback.
The Crusaders have strengthened their side with are eight changes to the starting line up, hooker Brodie McAlister and internationals George Bower, Pablo Matera, David Havili and Will Jordan all returning.
— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 24, 2022
It’s a quadruple-header of action on Saturday, kicking off with the Fijian Drua welcoming the Chiefs to Fiji. The visitors need a win to cement their top-four position as the Drua hunt for their first win on home soil.
This is followed by Moana Pasifika taking on the Brumbies in Auckland. Brumbies legend Christian Leali’ifano will get the chance to go up against his old side, playing their third game in eight days. The Brumbies currently sit in third and are hoping to lock in a home final, likely against one of their Australian rivals.
This includes the Waratahs, who will be desperate for a win against the Blues at Leichhardt Oval.
Darren Coleman’s men will be buoyed by their heroics in Dunedin and will be looking to end the ladder leader’s impressive 12 game winning streak, with Leon McDonald opting to rest a host of players.
Super Saturday concludes in Perth as the Western Force take on the Hurricanes. The Force need a win to keep their finals hopes alive following their bonus-point victory over Moana Pasifika. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes know a win and a Chiefs defeat will ensure they play next week’s final in Wellington.
The final game of the regular season is in Melbourne as the Rebels look to play spoilers against the Highlanders. The Rebels are out of finals contention but know victory could allow the Force to leapfrog the eighth-placed Highlanders and snare an unlikely finals spot.
See the Round 15 teams and predictions below!
— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 25, 2022
Friday, May 27:
Crusaders v Reds
(Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch – Kick-off: 19.35; 17.35 AEST; 07.35 GMT)
The Crusaders have won their last nine Super Rugby games against Queensland Reds; they have also won their last 10 home fixtures against the Reds, having not lost to them in Christchurch since March 1999 (36-23).
The Crusaders have lost two of their last four Super Rugby matches in Christchurch (W2), as many defeats as they logged in their 44 games prior in their home city (W41, D1, L2).
The Queensland Reds have lost three of their last four Super Rugby away matches (W1), as many defeats as they logged in their eight games prior on the road (W5, L3).
The Queensland Reds have lost their last 18 games away from home against New Zealand opposition, their longest ever such losing streak; they have conceded 40+ points in each of their last three away matches against New Zealand sides.
The Queensland Reds have made 44 turnover tackles in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the joint-most by any team in the campaign and 10 more than the Crusaders (34).
The Crusaders have made 733 kick metres per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, more than any other team in the competition; the Queensland Reds (646 per game) are ranked third in this category (Highlanders – 661).
The Crusaders have made five dominant tackles per game this Super Rugby Pacific season, more than any other team in the competition and three per game more than the Queensland Reds (2).
@rugby365com: Crusaders by 18 points.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Oli Jager, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Finlay Brewis, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Tom Christie, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Chay Fihaki, 23 George Bridge.
Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Tate McDermott (co-captain), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Ryan Smith, 4 Seru Uru, 3 Feao Fotuaika, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Dane Zander.
Replacements: 16 Richie Asiata, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Connor Vest, 21 Liam Wright (co-captain), 22 Kalani Thomas, 23 Mac Grealy.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Stu Curran
TMO: Shane McDermott
Saturday, May 28:
Fijian Drua v Chiefs
(Churchill Park, Lautoka – Kick-off: 15.00; 03.00 GMT)
This will be the first ever Super Rugby meeting between the Fijian Drua and Chiefs; the Chiefs have won their last seven matches in succession when facing an opposition for the first time on the day, last losing such a fixture in April 1997 (13-27 v Cheetahs).
The Fijian Drua have won only one of their last 10 Super Rugby matches (L9), a 34-19 win against Moana Pasifika (14 May 2022); they have conceded 60+ points in each of their last two defeats.
The Chiefs have won eight of their last nine Super Rugby matches against teams from outside New Zealand (L1), including each of their last two; they have scored 41 points per game in that span.
This will be the Fijian Drua’s second Super Rugby match in Fiji; their inaugural game on home soil was a 24-27 loss to the Highlanders (30 April 2022).
The Chiefs have won 12 of their last 14 Super Rugby matches outside New Zealand (L2), including their last five on the bounce; although, each of the last two games in that span have been decided by a margin no greater than three points on the day.
The Fijian Drua have conceded 179 turnovers this Super Rugby Pacific season, the most by any team in the campaign and 17 more than the Chiefs (162).
The Chiefs have had 54 percent of possession in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the best rate of any team in the campaign and six percentage points more than the Fijian Drua (48 percent).
@rugby365com: Chiefs by 15 points.
Fijian Drua: 15 Kitione Taliga, 14 Ilaisa Droasese, 13 Apisalome Vota, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Nemani Nagusa (captain), 7 Rusiate Nasove, 6 Joseva Tamani, 5 Viliame Rarasea, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Timoci Sauvoli, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Chris Minimbi, 20 Mesulame Dolokoto, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Caleb Muntz, 23 Onisi Ratave.
Chiefs: 15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Rameka Poihipi, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Alex Nankivell, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Luke Jacobson, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Naitoa Ah Khoi, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Cortez Ratima, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Jonah Lowe.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Dan Waenga
TMO: Glenn Newman
Moana Pasifika v Brumbies
(Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)
This will be the first ever Super Rugby meeting between Moana Pasifika and the Brumbies; the Brumbies have lost only one of their last nine matches in the competition when facing an opposition for the first time (W7, D1), a 24-25 defeat to the Melbourne Rebels in February 2011.
Moana Pasifika have lost their last 10 Super Rugby matches in succession, conceding 38 points per game in that span; their last win in the competition was a 24-19 victory against the Hurricanes (25 March 2022).
The Brumbies have lost each of their last two Super Rugby matches after losing only one of their 11 games prior (W10); the last time they went on a longer losing run in the competition was a four-match span in May 2021.
Moana Pasifika have scored 20+ points in four of their last five Super Rugby matches, after doing so only once in all their eight games prior in the competition.
The Brumbies won their most recent Super Rugby match in New Zealand (38-28 v Chiefs – 7 May 2022); they will be aiming for back-to-back wins in the country for the first time since May 2013.
Moana Pasifika have made 24 tackle breaks per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the joint-second most by any team (also Chiefs – 24) and seven per game more than the Brumbies (17).
The Brumbies have made 141 tackles per game this Super Rugby Pacific season, the joint-most by any team in the campaign (also Crusaders – 141) and 24 per game more than Moana Pasifika (117).
@rugby365com: Brumbies by 25 points.
Moana Pasifika: 15 William Havili, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 Danny Toala, 11 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Alamanda Motuga, 6 Solomone Funaki, 5 Sam Slade, 4 Michael Curry, 3 Sekope Kepu (captain), 2 Ray Niula, 1 Abraham Pole.
Replacements: 16 Samiuela Moli, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Joe ‘Apiokotoa, 19 Sione Tuipolotu, 20 Lotu Inisi, 21 Manu Paea, 22 Fine Inisi, 23 Anzelo Tuitavuki.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Rory Scott, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Rod Iona, 23 Hudson Creighton.
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Jono Bredin
TMO: Aaron Paterson
Waratahs v Blues
(Leichhardt Oval, Sydney – Kick-off: 19.45; 21.45 NZST; 09.45 GMT)
The Blues have won their last six Super Rugby matches against the Waratahs, the longest winning streak by either team in the history of this fixture; their last two victories have both come by margins of 20+ points, whereas the previous four each came by margins of seven points or fewer.
The Blues have won their last three Super Rugby away matches in succession against the Waratahs, as many as they won in all their 10 such fixtures prior in the competition (W3, L7).
The Waratahs have won two of their last three Super Rugby matches against New Zealand teams (L1), including a 32-20 win in their most recent such fixture (22 May 2022 v Highlanders); they will be aiming for consecutive wins against such opposition for the first time since May 2015.
The Blues have won 19 of their last 20 Super Rugby matches (L1), including their last 12 on the bounce; a 13th consecutive victory in this game would be their outright longest winning run in Super Rugby history.
Each of the Waratahs’ last five Super Rugby home matches have been decided by a margin no greater than five points on the day; the Waratahs have logged three wins in that span (L2).
The Waratahs have won 82 turnovers in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most by any team in the campaign and 24 more than the Blues (58).
The Blues have crossed the gainline on 66 percent of their carries in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the best rate of any team in the competition and 12 percentage points more than the NSW Waratahs (54 percent).
@rugby365com: Waratahs by seven points.
Waratahs: 15 Ben Donaldson, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Will Harris, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Charlie Gamble, 5 Ned Hanigan, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Archer Holz, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Hugh Sinclair, 20 Jeremy Williams, 21 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Jamie Roberts.
Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 13 Tamati Tua, 12 Corey Evans, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Jock McKenzie, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Taine Plumtree, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Anton Segner, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Luke Romano (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Jordan Lay.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Sam Darry, 20 Cameron Suafoa, 21 Akira Ioane, 22 Taufa Funaki, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: TBC; Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie
Western Force v Hurricanes
(Perth Oval, Perth – Kick-off: 20.00; 00.00 NZST Sunday, May 29; 12.00 GMT)
The Hurricanes have won their last 10 Super Rugby games against the Western Force, their longest winning streak against a single team in the history of the competition; the average winning margin has been 20 points per game across that span.
The Western Force won their most recent Super Rugby match (48-28 v Moana Pasifika – 24 May 2022), snapping a seven-match losing run in the competition; they will be aiming for back-to-back wins for the first time since April 2021.
The Hurricanes have won six of their last seven Super Rugby matches (L1), including each of their last three; the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run in the competition was a four-match span from April to May in 2021.
The Western Force have lost their last eight Super Rugby matches in succession at HBF Park; the last time they went on a longer losing run at their home venue was a 10-match span from May 2015 to July 2016.
The Hurricanes have won two of their last three Super Rugby matches in Australia (L1), including a 22-18 victory in their most recent such fixture (14 May 2022 v NSW Waratahs); they will be aiming for consecutive wins in the country in a single calendar year for the first time since 2017.
The Hurricanes have made 834 metres per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most by any team in the competition and one of only two to have logged 800+ in this category (Chiefs – 820 per game).
The Hurricanes have made 84 line breaks in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most of any team in the competition and 22 more than the Western Force (62).
@rugby365com: Hurricanes by 20 points.
Western Force: 15 Jake McIntyre, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Bryon Ralston, 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Jackson Pugh, 7 Tim Anstee, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Ryan McCauley, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Bo Abra, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Jack Winchester, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Brad Lacey.
Hurricanes: 15 Josh Moorby, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Billy Proctor, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Caleb Delany, 5 Justin Sangster, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Pouri Rateke-Stones.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Blake Gibson, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Teihorangi Walden.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Jordan Kaminski
TMO: Kyle Burnett
Sunday, May 29:
Melbourne Rebels v Highlanders
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne – Kick-off: 14.00; 16.00 NZST; 04.00 GMT)
The Highlanders have won five of their last seven Super Rugby games against the Melbourne Rebels (L2); however, they suffered defeat on the last occasion they travelled to Melbourne (19-24 in March 2019).
The Highlanders will be aiming for back-to-back wins in Super Rugby against the Melbourne Rebels in Australia for the first time in the history of the competition, following their 42-27 win in their most recent such meeting (30 May 2021).
The Melbourne Rebels have won only one of their last 13 Super Rugby matches against New Zealand opposition (L12); although, that victory did come against the Highlanders (28-22, 28 February 2020).
The Highlanders have won five of their last six Super Rugby matches outside New Zealand (L1), including each of their last two; they had won only three of their 11 such fixtures prior to that span (L8).
The Melbourne Rebels have won only two of their last 11 Super Rugby matches at AAMI Park (L9); they have conceded 33 points per game in that span.
The Melbourne Rebels have missed 30 tackles per game this Super Rugby Pacific season, seven per game more than any other team in the competition and eight per game more than the Highlanders (22).
The Melbourne Rebels have a goalkicking accuracy of 82 percent on conversion attempts this Super Rugby Pacific season, the joint-highest rate of any team (also Chiefs – 82 percent) and six percentage points higher than the Highlanders (76 percent).
The Highlanders have received only three yellow cards in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the joint-fewest of any team (also Chiefs – 3) and three fewer than the Melbourne Rebels (6).
@rugby365com: Highlanders by four points.
Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Lukas Ripley, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Josh Canham, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 George Worth.
Highlanders: 15 Liam Coombes-Fabling, 14 Fetuli Paea, 13 Josh Timu, 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 11 Rory van Vugt, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 James Lentjes (co-captain), 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Saula Ma’u, 19 Sam Caird, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Vilimoni Koroi, 23 Denny Solomona.
Referee: Jordan way
Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Matt Kellahan
TMO: Oli Kellett
Source: AAP & @SuperRugby
*Statistical information provided by Opta Data