Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round Five - Teams and Predictions
CRASHING THE PARTY: The Highlanders should brace for a frosty reception as the Brumbies plot to eliminate New Zealand’s unbeaten high-flyers from the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title race on Friday.
The Highlanders enter the last-round fixture in second spot and on track for a place in next week’s final.
But the Hurricanes and Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders are ready to cash in on a Highlanders slip-up at GIO Stadium.
Chasing back-to-back wins over Kiwi opposition for the first time since 2014 after taking down the Chiefs last week, the Brumbies are revelling in sub-zero temperatures in Canberra and are hoping for more of the same for the Highlanders.
“If it’s cold for us, then it’s definitely colder for them,” skipper Allan Alaalatoa said after Thursday’s captain’s run.
“We’ve trained in these conditions during the week and we’re prepared for it. I hope it’s minus four tomorrow and raining.”
After three straight defeats, the Brumbies found the key to toppling New Zealand outfits with a gritty 12-10 victory over the Chiefs.
It was only the second win from 20 games for an Australian team in this tournament, but the Brumbies are intent on backing it up.
“We showed last week that when we dig our heels in and we have the opportunity to play the sort of footy that we know we can do, we can stick it with the best of them,” Wallabies wing Tom Wright said after inking a two-year contract extension with the Brumbies on Thursday.
“So ideally we put on another strong defensive effort tomorrow night and give ourselves our best shot.”
The Highlanders have racked up 101 points in their past two wins over the Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs.
Alaalatoa says the onus is on the Brumbies pack to deny the Highlanders as much possession as possible.
“The Highlanders are a great team who pride themselves on their set-piece and they’ve been very dominant there, not only in the Trans-Tasman [competition] but also in the Super Rugby Aotearoa as well,” the Wallabies prop said.
“So we definitely know that we’ve got to match them up front.
“They’ve not only got one of the best line-out drives but their scrum is also dominant as well.
“We’re also a team that relies on our set-piece, our forwards as well.”
The Queensland Reds, also playing a party pooper role, face the Hurricanes in Friday’s other game in Wellington.
Victory for the Reds, the only other Australian team to boast a win in the competition, would ruin the Hurricanes’ finals chances.
The Waratahs’ hopes of ending their record 12-game losing streak took another blow on Thursday, with scans confirming scrumhalf and captain Jake Gordon will be sidelined for up to eight weeks with a knee injury.
The setback also rules Gordon out of the Wallabies’ three-Test series with France.
The Waratahs play the Chiefs on Saturday in Sydney.
We take a closer look at Round Five’s matches!
Friday, June 11:
Hurricanes v Reds
(Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)
The Hurricanes have won 14 of their last 16 Super Rugby games against the Queensland Reds (L2), including their last five on the bounce.
The Hurricanes have won 25 of their last 26 home games in Super Rugby against teams from outside New Zealand (L1); their only defeat in that span came against the Jaguares in Round 14, 2019 (28-20).
The Queensland Reds have lost their last 16 Super Rugby games away from home against New Zealand opposition; their last victory in such a fixture came in Round Nine, 2013 against the Chiefs (31-23).
Hurricanes duo Ngani Laumape (15) and Salesi Rayasi (14) have made more clean breaks outside their opposition’s 22m zone than any other players in Super Rugby competitions in 2021.
Tate McDermott (Queensland Reds) has crossed the gainline on all his 13 gainline carries this Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaign, the most of any player with a 100% success rate.
@rugby36com: Hurricanes by 18 points.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Ruben Love, 9 Cam Roigard, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Ben May, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Luke Campbell, 22 Danny Toala, 23 Salesi Rayasi.
Queensland Reds: 15 Mac Grealy, 14 Josh Flook, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Isaac Henry, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Richie Asiata, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Hudson Creighton, 23 Moses Sorovi.
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Dan Waenga
TMO: Aaron Paterson
Brumbies v Highlanders
(GIO Stadium, Canberra – Kick-off: (19.45; 21.45 NZST; 09.45 GMT)
The Highlanders have won their last five Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Brumbies, the longest winning streak of either side in the history of this fixture.
Six of the Brumbies last eight home games against the Highlanders in Super Rugby have been decided by a margin of seven points or fewer, with the spoils split at four wins apiece in that term.
The Brumbies will be hunting for back-to-back wins against New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby for the first time since April 2014 after logging a come-from-behind 12-10 win over the Hurricanes in Round Four of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
The Brumbies have conceded just six clean breaks per game in the 2021 Super Rugby TransTasman campaign, the fewest of any team in the competition.
Aaron Smith (Highlanders) has made six try assists in three games in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, more than any other player in the competition.
@rugby365com: Highlanders by five points.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Nic White, 8 Henry Stowers, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Solomone Kata.
Highlanders: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Patelesio Tomkinson, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Hugh Renton, 5 Pari Pari Parkinson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Sam Gilbert, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan
Saturday, June 12:
Melbourne Rebels v Crusaders
(Leichhardt Oval, Sydney – Kick-off: 14.35; 16.35 NZST; 04.35 GMT)
The Crusaders have won their last four Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Rebels, scoring an average of 62 points per game; they picked up a 66-0 win in their last encounter (June 2019) – the biggest win by any team not to concede a point on the day in Super Rugby history.
The Crusaders have won 11 of their last 12 Super Rugby games away from home against Australian opposition (L1), including two wins from two attempts in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman across which they have scored 117 points.
The Rebels have lost their last three Super Rugby games on the bounce at Leichhardt Oval after winning their first two games at the Sydney venue.
No team has won more turnovers per game in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman than the Rebels (8 – also Highlanders), who have won three per game more than the Crusaders (5).
Will Jordan (Crusaders) has scored seven tries in his last six Super Rugby games, including three in his last two games; this will be his first-ever game against the Rebels in a Super Rugby competition.
@rugby365com: Crusaders by 20 points.
Rebels: 15 George Worth, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Glen Vaihu, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Rob Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Rhys Van Neck, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Young Tonumaipea, 23 Ilikena Vudogo.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie
Blues v Western Force
(Eden Park, Auckland – Kick-off: 19.05; 15.05 AWST; 07.05 GMT)
The Blues are undefeated in their last eight Super Rugby games against the Western Force (W7,D1), last tasting defeat against them in Round 5, 2008 (27-17).
The Blues have won nine of their last 10 Super Rugby games on home turf (L1), including their last four on the bounce; they have conceded just seven second-half points across their last two home games.
The Western Force have lost their last 10 consecutive away games against New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby, a streak twice as long as any other they’ve endured in such fixtures.
The Western Force (48 percent) are the only team to have crossed the gainline on less than half of their total gainline carries this Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaign.
Finlay Christie (Blues) has been directly involved in nine tries (5 tries, 4 try assists) in his last eight starts in Super Rugby, including two tries and one try assist in his last two starts.
@rugby365com: Blues by 22 points.
Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam.
Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Richard Kahui, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Ollie Callan, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Rob Kearney.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Angus Mabey
TMO: Brendon Pickerill
Waratahs v Chiefs
(Brookvale Oval, Sydney – Kick-off: 19.45; 21.45 NZST; 09.45 GMT)
The Chiefs have won their last three Super Rugby games against the Waratahs and will be looking to log a club-record fourth consecutive win against them.
The Waratahs have lost their last 12 consecutive Super Rugby games; only twice in the history of the competition has any team endured a longer losing run (Lions – 17 games from May 2009 to March 2011 and Cats – 13 games from March 2003 to April 2004).
The Chiefs have won only three of their last 11 Super Rugby games away from home (L8); although, seven of those 11 games have been decided by a margin of fewer than seven points on the day.
The Chiefs have crossed the gainline on 66 percent of their gainline carries this Super Rugby TransTasman campaign, the highest percentage of any team in the competition.
Lalakai Foketi (Waratahs) has made four break passes in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, the joint second-most of any player (also Harry Wilson and Mitch Hunt).
@rugby365com: Chiefs by three points.
Waratahs: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Alex Newsome (captain), 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Ramm, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jack Grant, 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 7 Jack Dempsey, 6 Lachlan Swinton 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Te Tera Faulkner, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Andrew Tuala.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Sam Caird, 20 Jeremy Williams, 21 Will Harris, 22 Henry Robertson, 23 Tane Edmed.
Chiefs: 15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Pita Gus Sowakula, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Zane Kapeli, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Viliami Taulani, 20 Tom Florence, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Chase Tiatia.
Referee: Jordan way
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan
AAP & SANZAAR
Statistical information provided Opta Data