Super Rugby Pacific, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions
ROAD TO THE PLAY-OFFS: With just three weeks until the finals, every game in Round 13 of Super Rugby Pacific carries further significance as teams fight for position.
The action starts in Dunedin with a potential finals eliminator as the Highlanders host the Western Force. Tony Brown has pulled a significant selection shock with Sam Gilbert selected at flyhalf as both teams fight for the eighth position.
This is followed by a potential Grand Final preview as the Brumbies welcome the Crusaders to Canberra Stadium. The hosts will have to do it without Noah Lolesio and Rob Valetini after succumbing to injury.
Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa, who returns to the starting line-up, could not hide his enthusiasm speaking with reporters ahead of facing the Crusaders (8-3), who are one spot behind the second-placed Brumbies (10-1) on the ladder.
“It’s gonna be awesome,” he said.
“I feel the intensity is at such a high level, for us the boys have been training at such a high intensity too, and that goes a long way to performing on the weekend.
“Crusaders have been the pinnacle for a while now, I know a lot of the boys will be up for this game.”
The battle of the expansion sides kicks off a blockbuster Saturday triple-header as Fijian Drua take on Moana Pasifika. Both teams find themselves needing a win to keep their slim finals hopes alive, with a free-flowing exciting spectacle expected at Western Sydney Stadium.
The Blues will then look to continue their remarkable winning streak when they face the Reds at Eden Park.
The ladder-leaders dominated the Rebels and will be out to replicate their efforts against Brad Thorn’s men, who received a major boost when Wallaby James O’Connor was named to return from injury earlier than expected.
Rounding out Saturday will be the Waratahs returning to Leichhardt Oval as they take on the Hurricanes. Both teams have top-four aspirations and a win here will put them one step closer towards hosting a quarterfinal.
The round concludes in Melbourne as the Rebels look to bounce back against the Chiefs. Both teams are coming off disappointing defeats and will be desperate for victory as the hosts welcome back captain Michael Wells and Wallaby Jordan Uelese.
See the Round 13 teams and predictions below!
Friday, May 13:
Highlanders v Western Force
(Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin – Kick-off: 19.05; 15.05 AWST; 07.05 GMT)
The Highlanders have won their last four Super Rugby matches on the bounce against the Western Force by an average margin of 23 points per game in that span; they had won only two of all their eight meetings prior in the competition (L6).
The Highlanders defeated the Western Force 32-20 in their most recent meeting against them at home in Super Rugby (1 April 2016), snapping a four-match losing run against them in such fixtures; they will be aiming for back-to-back home wins against the Force for the first time in the history of the competition.
The Western Force have lost their last 23 Super Rugby matches against New Zealand opposition, their longest losing run in such fixtures; their last victory against a New Zealand team was in March 2014 (18-15 v Chiefs).
The Highlanders have won their last two Super Rugby matches, after winning only one of their 10 games prior (L9); the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run in the competition was a five-match span from May to June in 2021.
The Western Force have won only two of their last 18 Super Rugby matches outside Australia (L16); although, their last win in the competition in New Zealand was against the Highlanders (31-29, Rd 5 2014).
The Western Force have made 119 carries per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the second most by any team in the competition (Chiefs – 126) and 10 per game more than the Crusaders (109).
The Highlanders have made 25 kicks in play per game this Super Rugby Pacific season, the most by any team in the competition and six per game more than the Western Force (19).
@rugby365com: Highlanders by seven points.
Highlanders: 15 Connor Garden-Bachop, 14 Fetuli Paea, 13 Josh Timu, 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Sam Gilbert, 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 Mau, 19 Fabian Holland, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Mitch Hunt, 23 Liam Coombes-Fabling.
Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin (captain), 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Tim Anstee, 7 Ollie Callan, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Bo Abra, 18 Angus Wagner, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Richard Kahui.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill, Angus Mabey
TMO: Shane McDermott
Brumbies v Crusaders
(Canberra Stadium, Canberra – Kick-off: 19.45; 21.45 NZST; 09.45 GMT)
The Crusaders have won their last 10 Super Rugby matches on the bounce against the Brumbies, the longest winning run by either team in the history of this fixture; the Brumbies’ last win against the Crusaders was in February 2009 (18-16).
The Crusaders have won their last four Super Rugby matches against the Brumbies in Australia, more than they won in all their nine such meetings prior in the competition (W3, L6).
The Brumbies have won their last three Super Rugby matches in succession against New Zealand opposition; the last time they enjoyed a longer winning run in such fixtures was a six-match span from April 2004 to February 2005.
The Crusaders have won 15 of their last 17 Super Rugby matches in Australia (L2); each of their two defeats in that span have come against the Waratahs.
The Brumbies have won their last five Super Rugby matches on the bounce at Canberra Stadium by an average winning margin of 15 points per game in that span.
The Brumbies have made dominant contact on 17 carries per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the fewest of any team and seven per game fewer than the Crusaders (24).
The Crusaders have made 148 tackles per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most of any team in the campaign; the Brumbies (142 per game) are ranked third in this category (Blues – 146).
@rugby365com: Crusaders by three points.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Rodney Iona, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Caderyn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Rory Scott, 22 Ryan Lonergan, 23 Ollie Sapsford.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Finlay Brewis, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Liam Hallam-Eames, 20 Tom Christie, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Braydon Ennor, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Damon Murphy
TMO: James Leckie
Saturday, May 14:
Fijian Drua v Moana Pasifika
(Western Sydney Stadium, Sydney – Kick-off: 14.35; 16.35 FJT; 04.35 GMT)
This will be the first Super Rugby match between the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika; it will be the fourth Super Rugby game to not feature a team from either Australia, New Zealand or South Africa (Jaguares v Sunwolves x3).
The Fijian Drua have won only one of their nine Super Rugby matches in Australia (L8), a 31-26 victory against the Melbourne Rebels (4 March 2022); this will be Moana Pasifika’s second Super Rugby game in Australia (lost 26-22 v Melbourne Rebels – 30 April 2022).
Each of Moana Pasifika’s last two Super Rugby matches have been decided by a margin no greater than six points on the day (L2); only one of all their eight games in the competition prior was decided by a single figure margin (won 24-19 v Hurricanes – 25 March 2022).
The Fijian Drua have lost their last eight Super Rugby matches in succession, including a 5-67 loss to the Hurricanes last time out – their biggest defeat in the history of the competition and the first time they’d conceded 50+ points in a game.
The Fijian Drua (9) and Moana Pasifika (10) have won the fewest line-outs per game (inc. steals) of any teams in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Only the Chiefs (10) have made more offloads per game than the Fijian Drua (9) and Moana Pasifika (9) in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
The Fijian Drua have conceded 17 turnovers per game this Super Rugby Pacific season, the most of any team in the campaign and four per game more than Moana Pasifika (13).
@rugby365com: Moana Pasifika by five points.
Fijian Drua: 15 Kitione Taliga, 14 Onisi Ratave, 13 Apisalome Vota, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvovu, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 7 Mesulame Dolokoto, 6 Meli Derenlagi (captain), 5 Viliame Rarasea, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Chris Minimbi, 20 Nemani Nagusa, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Caleb Muntz, 23 Selestino Ravutaumada.
Moana Pasifika: 15 William Havili, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Solomone Kata, 12 Danny Toala, 11 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 10 Lincoln McClutchie, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Solomone Funaki, 6 Sione Tu’ipulotu, 5 Alex McRobbie, 4 Michael Curry, 3 Sekope Kepu (captain), 2 Ray Niuia, 1 Abraham Pole.
Replacements: 16 Samiuela Moli, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Joe ‘Apikotoa, 19 Veikoso Poloniati, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Christian Leali’ifano, 23 Henry Taefu.
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Matt Kellahan
TMO: Brett Cronan
Blues v Reds
(Eden Park, Auckland – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)
The Blues have lost only one of their last six Super Rugby matches against the Queensland Reds (W4, D1), a 28-29 loss in June 2019; they had won only one of their six meetings prior to that span (L5).
The Blues have won 15 of their last 16 Super Rugby home matches against Australian opposition (L1), including their last six in succession; their only defeat in that span was a 10-20 loss to the Melbourne Rebels (2 June 2018).
The Queensland Reds have lost their last three Super Rugby matches in succession; the last time they went on a longer losing run in the competition was a four-match span from June 2019 to February 2020.
The Blues have won 17 of their last 18 Super Rugby matches (L1), including their last 10 on the bounce; they have conceded 19 points per game across that span.
The Blues have made six-line breaks per game this Super Rugby Pacific season, the second most by any team in the campaign and two per game more than the Queensland Reds (4).
The Blues (66 percent) and Queensland Reds (60 percent) have crossed the gainline on a higher percentage of their total carries than any other teams in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
The Queensland Reds have made 162 kicks in play collected by the opposition in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the joint-most by any team (also Crusaders – 162) and 30 more than the Blues (132).
@rugby365com: Blues by 18 points.
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Tom Robinson, 4 James Tucker, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryce Heem, 23 Zarn Sullivan.
Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Jordan Petaia, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott (captain), 8 Seru Uru, 7 Angus Scott-Young, 6 Connor Vest, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Feao Fotuaika, 2 Albert Anae, 1 Dane Zander.
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Tuaina Tualima, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Lawson Creighton.
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Jono Bredin
TMO: Aaron Paterson
Waratahs v Hurricanes
(Leichhardt Oval, Sydney – Kick-off: 19.45; 21.45 NZST; 09.45 GMT)
The Hurricanes have won their last four Super Rugby matches in succession against the Waratahs, more than they won across their eight meetings prior in the competition (W2, L6).
The Hurricanes have won their last three Super Rugby matches in Australia against the Waratahs, as many as they won in all their 10 such fixtures prior in the competition (W3, L7).
The Waratahs have won four of their last five Super Rugby matches (L1), including each of their last two; they will be aiming for a third consecutive win in the competition for the first time since July 2018.
The Hurricanes will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats in Super Rugby against Australian opposition for the first time since March 2014, following their 42-25 loss to the Brumbies in their most recent such fixture (1 May 2022).
The Waratahs won their most recent Super Rugby match against a New Zealand team (24-21 v Crusaders – 30 April 2022), snapping an 11-match losing run in such fixtures; they will be aiming for back-to-back wins against such opposition for the first time since May 2015.
The Waratahs have gained 46 metres per game from kick returns this Super Rugby Pacific season, the fewest of any team in the competition and 19 per game fewer than the Hurricanes (65).
The Hurricanes have gained 505 metres per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most of any team in the competition and 132 per game more than the NSW Waratahs (373).
@rugby365com: Waratahs by seven points.
Waratahs: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Will Harris, 5 Hugh Sinclair, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Archer Holz, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Teterta Faulkner, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Triston Reilly.
Hurricanes: 15 Josh Moorby, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 TK Howden, 5 Justin Sangster, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Caleb Delany, 21 Cameron Roigard, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Billy Proctor.
Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Damon Murphy
TMO: James Leckie
Sunday, May 15:
Melbourne Rebels v Chiefs
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne – Kick-off: 14.00; 16.00 NZST; 04.00 GMT)
The Chiefs have won seven of their eight Super Rugby matches against the Melbourne Rebels (L1), including their last four in succession; their 88 percent win rate against them is their best against any team in the history of the competition (min. 3 games played).
The Melbourne Rebels have won only one of their last 11 Super Rugby matches at AAMI Park against New Zealand teams (L10), a 24-19 win against the Highlanders (1 March 2019).
The Chiefs have won seven of their last eight Super Rugby matches outside New Zealand (L1), including their last four in succession; their only defeat in that span was a 40-34 loss to the Queensland Reds (Round 3, 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman).
The Melbourne Rebels will be aiming for back-to-back Super Rugby wins in Victoria for the first time since March 2021, following their 26-22 victory against Moana Pasifika in their most recent game in their home state (30 April 2022).
The Chiefs have crossed the gainline on 74 carries per game in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the most of any team in the competition; the Melbourne Rebels (49 per game) are ranked last in this category.
The Chiefs have conceded nine penalties per game this Super Rugby Pacific season, fewer than any other team in the competition; the Melbourne Rebels (11 per game) have conceded the fewest of any Australian team in this category.
The Melbourne Rebels have made dominant contact on 28 percent of their total carries in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season, the best rate of any team in the campaign and four percentage points more than the Chiefs (24 percent).
@rugby365com: Chiefs by 15 points.
Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 George Worth, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Stacey Ili, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Josh Hill, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Josh Canham, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 Lukas Ripley.
Chiefs: 15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Rameka Poihipi, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Pita Gus Sowakula, 20 Mitch Brown, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Rivez Reihana, 23 Inga Finau.
Referee: Reuben Keane
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, James Palmer
TMO: Oli Kellett
Source: AAP & @SuperRugby
*Statistical information provided by Opta Data