Thu 24 Mar 2022 | 09:50

Super Rugby Pacific, Round Six - Teams and Predictions

Super Rugby Pacific, Round Six - Teams and Predictions
Thu 24 Mar 2022 | 09:50
Super Rugby Pacific, Round Six - Teams and Predictions
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ALL ABOARD: It’s Heritage Round in Super Rugby Pacific and the stage is set for more unforgettable moments to be etched into the tournament’s history with all 12 teams in action following a Covid-disrupted Round Five.

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Moana Pasifika and the Hurricanes kick off the action at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday. The Hurricanes will be buoyed by the return of centurion TJ Perenara to the side for the first time since 2020.

Friday sees two more matches take place across the ditch in Australia with the Rebels hosting the Fijian Drua at AAMI Park and the Western Force laying out the welcome mat to the unbeaten Brumbies.

The Fijian Drua will be eyeing a second victory in their debut season when they face the winless Rebels while the Force will be hoping to inflict a first loss on the high-flying Brumbies in 2022.

Saturday will be a historic day in New Zealand as crowd restrictions are lifted due to Covid-19 protections.

The Highlanders will be the first team to welcome back unrestricted crowds when they host the Blues at Otago Stadium. The Highlanders are yet to taste victory in 2022 and will be hoping their passionate fans can give them a boost under the roof against Leon MacDonald’s men.

It’s a bona fide blockbuster when the impressive Chiefs face perennial favourites the Crusaders at Waikato Stadium.

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The Chiefs stunned the Crusaders in overtime back in Round Four and another victory will put the Chiefs in pole position amongst the New Zealand sides.

Fittingly, Heritage Round is finished with a clash between traditional rivals the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs at Lang Park.

Ahead of this weekend’s clashes, Western Force centre Kyle Godwin has set his sights on knocking the Brumbies off their perch, saying the Round-One loss in Canberra remains a sore spot for the team.

The Brumbies are the only unbeaten outfit in Super Rugby Pacific this season after winning their opening five matches.

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But it could have been different had the Force held their nerve when clinging to a late lead in Round One in Canberra.

The Force hit the front through a Jake McIntyre try in the 77th minute.

But the euphoria was short-lived with Lachie Lonergan crossing two minutes later to snatch the win for the Brumbies.

Godwin has been hanging out for Friday’s rematch at Perth Oval, with the former Wallaby eager to turn the tables.

“That last game was a bit of a sore spot for us,” Godwin said.

“We definitely had that win in our grasp and we let it slip in the last couple of minutes.

“We learnt a lot of lessons there, personally as well myself. Hopefully we can get one-up on them tomorrow [Friday].

“They’re undefeated this season and we want to be the team that knocks them off their perch tomorrow.”

The Brumbies have opted to rest a host of key players for the match following last week’s bruising 16-12 win over the Queensland Reds.

Wallabies forwards James Slipper and Allan Alaalatoa have been given the week off, while flyhalf Noah Lolesio will be missing because of an ankle injury.

Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White may also not play due to the impending birth of his third child.

White didn’t board the flight to Perth on Thursday, but he’s a chance to make the flight west on Friday.

If White doesn’t make the trip then Lachie Albert will replace him on the bench.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar doesn’t want the Force to take his decision to rest players the wrong way.

“I want to make sure there’s no disrespect here to the opposition at all,” McKellar said.

“It was always part of our plan, [it was] a big scrum game last week against the Reds.

“Pretty much the best part of 12 hours on a plane or sitting at airports.

“So I just thought it was a good opportunity to freshen up the front row in particular, provide opportunity for boys who have worked hard.”

The changes means out-of-favour prop Scott Sio has been handed a starting berth.

The Force escaped with a last-gasp 20-18 win over Fijian Drua last week after inside centre Bayley Kuenzle nailed a penalty after the siren.

Round Six teams and predictions below!

Friday, March 25:

Moana Pasifika v Hurricanes
(Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland – Kick-off: 19.05; 06.05 GMT)

The Hurricanes will meet Moana Pasifika in Super Rugby for the first time; only once in Super Rugby history have the Hurricanes lost their maiden game against a non-foundation team (def. 25-42 by Melbourne Rebels in 2011).

Moana Pasifika have lost each of their two previous Super Rugby matches so far; they have scored exactly 12 points on the day in each of those games.

The Hurricanes have won seven of their last eight Super Rugby matches against teams from outside New Zealand (L1); their only defeat in that span was a 10-12 loss to the Brumbies (Round Four, 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman).

The Hurricanes will be aiming for back-to-back away victories in Super Rugby for the first time since July 2020, following their 33-32 win against the Blues in their last match on the road (Round Two, 2022 Super Rugby Pacific).

The Hurricanes have gained 489 metres per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most of any team; Moana Pasifika (316 per game) are ranked last in this category.

Moana Pasifika have won nine scrums per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign, more than any other team and two per game more than the Hurricanes (7).

Moana Pasifika have made 183 tackles per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most by any team and 40 per game more than the Hurricanes (143).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Hurricanes by 22 points.

Teams:

Moana Pasifika: 15 William Havili, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Neria Fomua, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Solomone Funaki, 6 Sione Tu’ipulotu,5 Samuel Slade, 4 Veikoso Poloniati, 3 Sekope Kepu (captain), 2 Samiuela Moli, 1 Ezekiel Lindenmuth.
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Taukiha’amea Koloamatagi, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Alex McRobbie, 20 Josh Kaifa, 21 Ereatara Enari, 22 Lincoln McClutchie, 23 Danny Toala.

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Reed Prinsep (captain), 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Caleb Delany, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Alex Fidow, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Tom Parsons, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Cameron Roigard, 22 Ruben Love, 23 Salesi Rayasi.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Jono Bredin
TMO: Glenn Newman

Melbourne Rebels v Fijian Drua
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne – 19.45; 20.45 FJI; 08.45 GMT)

This is set to be the second Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and Fijian Drua; the Drua won their inaugural encounter (31-26) as they recorded their first-ever victory in the competition.

The Melbourne Rebels have lost their last 10 Super Rugby matches in succession, their second-longest losing run in the history of the competition (L12 – April 2011 to March 2012).

The Fijian Drua have won only one of their five Super Rugby matches (L4), a 31-26 victory against the Melbourne Rebels (Round Three, 2022 Super Rugby Pacific); each of their last three games in that span have been decided by a margin no greater than five points on the day.

The Melbourne Rebels have lost their last six Super Rugby matches against teams from outside Australia, conceding 41 points per game in that span; their last victory in such fixtures was a 37-17 win against the Lions (Round Six, 2020 Super Rugby).

The Fijian Drua have made 22 tackle breaks per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the second most of any team in the competition and six per game more than the Melbourne Rebels (16).

The Melbourne Rebels (18) and Fijian Drua (17) have conceded more turnovers per game than any other teams in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific competition.

The Melbourne Rebels have gained 61 metres from mauls in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign, more than any other team in the competition and 54m more than the Fijian Drua (7m).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Melbourne Rebels by five points.

Teams:

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Raymond Nu’u, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Michael Wells (captain), 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Brad Wilkin, 5 Josh Hill, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Rhys van Nek, 19 Daniel Maiava, 20 Sam Wallis, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Carter Gordon, 23 George Worth.

Fijian Drua: 15 Kitione Ratu, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Apisalome Vota, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Nemani Nagusa (captain), 7 Vilive Miramira, 6 Joseva Tamani, 5 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 4 Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, 3 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Jone Koroiduadua.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Viliame Rarasea, 20 Kitione Salawa, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Caleb Muntz, 23 Jona Mataiciwa.

Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant referees: Reuben Keane, Amber McLachlan
TMO: Oli Kellett

Western Force v Brumbies
(Perth Oval, Perth – Kick-off: 19.00; 22.00 AEDT; 11.00 GMT)

The Brumbies have won 79 percent of their Super Rugby matches against the Western Force (19/24), including their last 13 meetings in succession; it’s their second-best win rate against any team they have faced at least 10 times (80 percent v Cats).

The Western Force will be aiming for back-to-back wins in Super Rugby for the first time since April 2021, following their 20-18 victory against the Fijian Drua last time out (Round Five, 2022 Super Rugby Pacific).

The Brumbies have won each of their five matches in Super Rugby Pacific; a sixth consecutive victory in this game would be their outright best start to a single season in the history of Super Rugby.

The Western Force have lost their last three Super Rugby matches in Western Australia, after winning four of their six games in their home state prior (L2).

The Brumbies have won their last four Super Rugby matches on the bounce against fellow Australian teams; the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run in Australian derbies in the competition was a nine-match span from June 2019 to August 2020.

The Brumbies (19) and Western Force (20) have made dominant contact on fewer carries per game than any other teams in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.

The Western Force have made 10 line-out steals this Super Rugby Pacific season, the most by any team; the Brumbies (6) are ranked third in this category (Melbourne Rebels – 7).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Brumbies by 10 points.

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u (captain), 1 Harrison Lloyd.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Bo Abra, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Tim Anstee, 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Richard Kahui.

Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Rod Iona, 9 Ryan Lonergan (captain), 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Sefo Kautai, 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 Fred Kaihea, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Rory Scott, 21 Nic White, 22 Hudson Creighton, 23 Jesse Mogg.

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Jordan Kaminski
TMO: Kyle Burnett

Saturday, March 26:

Highlanders v Blues
(Otago Stadium, Dunedin – Kick-off: 16.35; 03.35 GMT)

The Blues have won five of their last six Super Rugby matches against the Highlanders (L1), including each of their last two meetings; more than they won across their 15 games prior (W4, L11).

The Highlanders have won eight of their last nine Super Rugby home matches against the Blues (L1); their only defeat in that span was an 11-point loss in August 2020 (21-32, Super Rugby Aotearoa).

The Blues have won each of their last two Super Rugby away matches, as many as they won in their seven games prior on the road (W2, L5).

The Highlanders have lost their four matches in Super Rugby Pacific; the last time they began a season with more consecutive defeats was an eight-match span in 2013.

The Blues have won four of their last five Super Rugby matches against fellow New Zealand teams (L1), after winning only one of their five New Zealand derbies prior (L4).

The Crusaders (25) are the only team to have made more kicks in play per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign than the Highlanders (23) and Blues (23).

The Blues have scored five tries from possession begun with a turnover won in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific competition, more than any other team, while only Fijian Drua (6) have conceded more tries via this method than the Highlanders (4).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Blues by three points.

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Sam Gilbert, 14 Ngatungane Punivai, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Mosese Dawai, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Fabian Holland, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Vilimoni Koroi, 23 Hugh Renton.

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 James Tucker, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Ofa Tuungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Sam Darry, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Corey Evans, 23 Stephen Perofeta.

Referee: Angus Mabey
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Mike Winter
TMO: Glenn Newman

Chiefs v Crusaders
(Waikato Stadium, Hamilton – 19.05; 06.05 GMT)

The Chiefs have won their last two Super Rugby regular season games against the Crusaders, as many as they won in their nine such meetings prior (W2, L7); the last and only time they enjoyed a longer winning run against them in the regular season was a four-match span from February 2015 to July 2016.

The Crusaders lost their most recent Super Rugby match (21-24 v Chiefs, 12 March 2022) snapping a 10-match winning run; they will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time since March 2018.

The Chiefs have won their last six Super Rugby home matches on the bounce; the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run at home was a seven-match span from May 2016 to May 2017.

The Crusaders have won 13 of their last 14 completed Super Rugby away matches (L1), including their last five in succession; their only defeat in that span was a 26-25 loss to the Chiefs (Round Eight, 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa).

This will be the Crusaders second consecutive Super Rugby regular season game against the Chiefs, the first time in Super Rugby history that they’ve played the same team in back-to-back regular season rounds in the same season; the last time they did so across multiple seasons was in 2001/02 against the Highlanders, logging a loss and then a win.

The Chiefs have made 12 offloads per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign, more than any other team and six per game more than the Crusaders (6) in this category.

The Chiefs have made 13 attacking 22m entries per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, more than any other team in the competition and three per game more than the Crusaders (10).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Chiefs by five points.

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Samipeni Finau, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Tupou Vaa’i, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ollie Norris.
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Mitch Jacobson, 22 Cortez Ratima, 23 Josh Ioane.

Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Chay Fihaki, 13 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Oli Jager, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 Finlay Brewis.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Mitch Dunshea/Zach Gallagher, 20 Corey Kellow/Dominic Gardiner, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Sevu Reece.

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill, Dan Waenga
TMO: Chris Hart

Queensland Reds v Waratahs
(Lang Park, Brisbane – Kick-off: 18.45; 19.45 AEDT; 08.45 GMT)

The Queensland Reds have won four of their last five Super Rugby matches against the Waratahs (L1), including their last three in succession; they had lost each of their 11 meetings prior to that span.

The Queensland Reds have won their last two Super Rugby matches at home against the Waratahs; the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run against them on home soil was a three-match span from April 2011 to February 2013.

The Waratahs have won each of their last two Super Rugby matches; the last time they won more than two consecutive games in the competition was a three-match span from June to July in 2018.

The Queensland Reds will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats against Australian opponents in Super Rugby for the first time since August 2020, following a 12-16 loss to the Brumbies in their most recent Australian derby (Round 5, 2022 Super Rugby Pacific).

The Waratahs have won their last two Super Rugby matches against fellow Australian opposition; the last time they won more than two consecutive Australian derbies was a three-match span from April to May in 2019.

The Queensland Reds have made 19 tackles resulting in a turnover won this Super Rugby Pacific season, six more than any other team in the competition and 11 more than the Waratahs (8).

The Queensland Reds have scored six tries in the final quarters of games this Super Rugby Pacific season, the second-most of any team in the competition and five more than last-ranked NSW Waratahs (1).

Prediction

@rugby365com: Reds by 12 points.

Teams:

Reds: 15 Jordan Petaia, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Josh Flook, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott (co-captain), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight (co-captain), Seru Uru, Angus Blyth, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Josh Nasser, Dane Zander.
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Feao Fotuaika, 19 Connor Vest, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Lawson Creighton, 23 Isaac Henry.

Waratahs: 15 Will Harrison, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jack Grant, 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Charlie Gamble, 5 Geoff Cridge, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Tom Horton/Mahe Vailanu, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Ruan Smith/Archer Holz, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Teddy Wilson, 22 Dylan Pietsch, 23 Triston Reilly.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan

Source: AAP & @SuperRugby

*Statistical information provided by Opta Data

PV: 25
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