Thu 15 Apr 2021 | 11:40

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Eight - teams and predictions

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Eight - teams and predictions
Thu 15 Apr 2021 | 11:40
Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Eight - teams and predictions
SHARE

BRUTAL BLOWOUT: New Zealand Rugby has warned that the intensity of the domestic competition is not sustainable.

ADVERTISEMENT

This follows the news that All Black midfielder Jack Goodhue was ruled out for the entire 2021 season with a serious knee injury.

The last two weeks of the bruising, five-team competition has taken a heavy toll – with Crusaders’ Goodhue joining All Blacks captain Sam Cane and loose forward Ardie Savea on the sidelines, while prop Joe Moody is also under an injury cloud.

“We don’t want to read too much into two weeks, but we know that playing that standard and intensity of rugby year on year is not really sustainable for our players,” Professional Rugby and Performance boss Chris Lendrum told local radio station Gold AM.

“As a competition, as fans we love it, right?

“But we’re looking forward to a more balanced program for those players next year where we have Australian teams in the mix and hopefully these Pasifika teams in the mix, so you’re not watching All Blacks trials every weekend.”

The five-team Aotearoa was launched last year to fill the void after the broader Super Rugby competition, which featured Australian and South African teams – along with one team each from Argentina and Japan – was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADVERTISEMENT

Australia and South Africa also set up domestic competitions with their Super Rugby sides.

New Zealand hopes to start a new competition in 2022, with Australia’s teams and two sides comprising Pacific islands players.

Goodhue, who was starting centre in five Tests last year, ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the tight win over the Hurricanes at the weekend, the Crusaders said on Thursday.

Moody is sidelined indefinitely after scans confirmed a “significant injury” to the soft tissue at the base of his big toe. He will see a specialist in two weeks’ time.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chiefs co-captain Cane, who had surgery on a torn pectoral muscle this week, will miss at least the July Tests against Italy and Fiji, while Hurricanes skipper Savea is out for up to eight weeks with a torn knee ligament.

All Black scrumhalf Aaron Smith questioned whether organisers had provided enough rest weeks for players to recuperate.

The teams are given two bye weeks in the 10-round competition and play no more than four games in succession.

“Last year we had a lot of chat around player welfare, making sure the byes were set up well, and I feel like this year they’ve just sort of flunked it and said, ‘Oh well, go out there and do it’,” Smith told local reporters.

“It’s come home to roost in the last few weeks with a lot of injuries and some of them are guys walking off with season-enders.

“That’s rugby, it does happen. But the brutality, the intensity of the games and how much is on the line with playoff spots, it’s brutal.”

Round Eight teams and predictions below the video!

Video Spacer

Friday, April 16

Highlanders v Blues
(Otago Stadium, Dunedin – Kick-off: 19.05; 07.05 GMT)

The Blues have won all three of their games against the Highlanders in Super Rugby Aotearoa, after having won only three of their previous 12 games against them in Super Rugby.

The Highlanders have lost seven of their last nine Super Rugby games on home turf, including their last three on the bounce.

The last time they lost more home games in succession was a six-game stretch across the 2012 and 2013 campaigns.

Only one of the Blues’ last five away games in Super Rugby has seen the same team lead at both half-time and full-time on the day, with the Blues picking up two wins and three losses in that term.

The Blues have scored five tries on possession begun with a turnover won, as many as the rest of the competition combined this season in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Blues’ Otere Black and Highlanders’ Josh Ioane have each made six break passes in the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, the joint-most of any player in the competition alongside Crusaders’ David Havili

Head to head

Highlanders versus Blues

Prediction

@rugby365com: Blues by six points

Teams

Highlanders: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Ngatungane Punivai, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan De Groot, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 James Lentjes.

Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Sam Darry, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Bryce Heem.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, James Doleman
TMO: Ben O’Keeffe

Video Spacer

Saturday, April 17

Chiefs v Crusaders
(Waikato Stadium, Hamilton – Kick-off: 19.05; 07.05 GMT)

The Crusaders have won eight of their last 10 Super Rugby games against the Chiefs, including all three of their meetings in Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The Chiefs have won their last three Super Rugby games on the bounce, each by a margin of fewer than seven points; the last time they won more in succession was a five-game stretch in March-April 2018.

The Crusaders (88 percent) and Chiefs (86 percent) have the highest and second-highest tackle success rates respectively of any teams in the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season.

Quinn Tupaea (Chiefs) has made nine carries and 11 tackles per game this Super Rugby Aotearoa season.

He is the only player to have logged at least nine per game in both categories.

Only Hurricanes’ Reed Prinsep (95) has hit more attacking rucks than Crusaders’ duo Michael Alaalatoa (85) and Codie Taylor (84) this Super Rugby Aotearoa season

Head to head

Chiefs versus Crusaders

Prediction

@rugby365com: Crusaders by eight points

Teams

Chiefs: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Pita Gus Sowakula, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Sean Wainui.

Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Tom Sanders, 6 Scott Barrett (captain), 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Isileli Tu’ungafasi, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.

Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, James Doleman
TMO: Ben O’Keeffe

Bye: Hurricanes

Sources: RugbyPass, AAP & Reuters

* Statistics provided by Stats Perform

PV: 14
ADVERTISEMENT
Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Eight - teams and predictions | Rugby365