Thu 20 May 2021 | 10:08

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions
Thu 20 May 2021 | 10:08
Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions

CHAMPS V CHAMPS: The Australian teams will be desperate to avoid another white-wash when they face the New Zealand sides during this weekend’s Round Two of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament.


The headliner for Round Two is certainly Saturday’s match between Queensland Reds and Crusaders – Super Rugby AU champions versus Super Rugby Aotearoa champions.

Both teams have welcomed back a host of international stars.

The AU champion Reds will be boosted by Harry Wilson (concussion), Hunter Paisami (facial) and Tate McDermott’s return to the starting side alongside Taniela Tupou, Fraser McReight and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

As for the Crusaders, Will Jordan and Mitchell Drummond return into the backline that was narrow victors over the Brumbies last Saturday.

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“We’re looking forward to this week’s challenge against the Crusaders,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said.

“Again, they were this year’s Aotearoa champions and we know it’ll be a tough encounter on Saturday.

“There’s no better test than playing against the best,”

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The Aaron Smith Factor

Argentina scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli will have another chance to come up trumps against All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith in Friday’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash in Perth.

Cubelli will notch his 50th Super cap when he lines up for the Western Force against the Highlanders at HBF Park, and he knows he is up for an almighty battle against Smith.

The Highlanders scrumhalf is arguably the best No.9 in world rugby and Cubelli rarely walks away a winner after going head-to-head with the 97-Test All Black.

However, Cubelli did come away with the spoils in their most recent meeting, when Argentina upset the All Blacks 16-15 last November.

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“I’ve played him while at the Brumbies and Argentina,” Cubelli said on Thursday.

“I think he’s won more than me. He’s a great scrumhalf, lots of impressive qualities that lots of scrumhalves around the world get inspired by his game.”

Force stand-in captain Kyle Godwin says his team would put a big focus into curbing the influence of Smith and flyhalf Mitch Hunt.

“A lot of their game comes off Smith and Mitch Hunt, so we have to make sure we put pressure on those two to hopefully jeopardise their game,” Godwin said.

“He [Smith] has got an incredible passing game, so he’s definitely a threat that we’re aware of. Hopefully, we can nullify that.”

Only a missed Domingo Miotti conversion attempt after the final siren denied the Force victory last week in their 19-20 loss to the Chiefs.

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The Highlanders are brimming with confidence after thrashing the Queensland Reds 40-19, and they have been boosted by the return of All Blacks back-row Shannon Frizell, who was left out last week due to an alleged incident at a Dunedin bar.

The Melbourne Rebels are still stewing over last week’s 3-50 hammering from the Blues and they’re determined to bounce back in Friday’s clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Injured Rebels star Reece Hodge feels his team will put up a better fight this week.

“I don’t think we were 47 points worse on the weekend especially in that first half,” Hodge said.

“We’ve taken a lot out of our review and we see an opportunity this weekend to prove to ourselves and our fans that that’s not us, that’s not Rebels rugby, and to hopefully push the Hurricanes all the way.”

The Rebels have been boosted by the inclusion of wing Andrew Kellaway, lock Trevor Hosea and Wallabies back-row Isi Naisarani.

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We take a closer look at the matches in Round Two!

Friday, May 21:

Hurricanes v Melbourne Rebels
(Sky Stadium, Wellington – Kick-off: 19:05; 17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)

The Rebels logged a 42-25 win in their inaugural Super Rugby game against the Hurricanes in 2011 but have lost all seven of their meetings in the competition since by an average margin of 30 points per game.

The Hurricanes have won 16 of their last 17 Super Rugby games against Australian opponents, including a 64-48 win over the NSW Waratahs in the opening round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman 2021.

The Rebels last Super Rugby game in New Zealand ended in a 28-22 win over the Highlanders in Round 5 of the 2020 Super Rugby season; they will now hunt for back-to-back wins in New Zealand for the first time in club history.

The Rebels were kept tryless in the opening round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, the fourth time they have failed to score a try in a Super Rugby game in 2021 – more times than all other teams combined (x2).

Marika Koroibete (Rebels) has made more carries (20) and beaten more defenders (11) within his own 22m zone in Super Rugby since the beginning of 2021 than any other player

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions


@rugby365com: Hurricanes by 10 points

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Orbyn Leger, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Brayden Iose, 21 Gareth Evans, 22 Cam Roigard, 23 Lolagi Visinia.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 George Worth, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt To’omua (captain), 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Joshua Kemeny, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Robert Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Stacey Ili, 23 Frank Lomani.

Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Angus Mabey
TMO: Mike Fraser


Western Force v Highlanders
(HBF Park, Perth – Kick-off: 17:45; 21.45 NZ time; 09.45 GMT)

The Highlanders have won their last three Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Western Force, including a fixture-record 55-6 win in their last encounter (Round 13, 2017).

Each of the Western Force’s last four Super Rugby games on home turf have been decided by a margin of three points or fewer, with the Force picking up two wins and two losses in that term.

The Highlanders will be looking to log back-to-back Super Rugby wins for the first time since April 2019 after opening their 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaign with a 40-19 win against the Queensland Reds last time out.

No team missed fewer tackles (13) or had a higher tackle success rate (92 percent) than the Highlanders in the opening round of the 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season.

Tomas Cubelli (Western Force) is set to play his 50th Super Rugby game and his fourth against the
Highlanders, a team against whom he is yet to log a victory in the competition.

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions


@rugby365com:   Highlanders by three points

Western Force: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Richard Kahui, 13 Kyle Godwin (captain), 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Tim Anstee, 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 Ian Prior, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Jake Strachan.

Highlanders: 15 Sam Gilbert, 14 Sio Tomkinson, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Hugh Renton, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Kazuki Himeno, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Ngantungane Punivai.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, Reuben Keane
TMO: James Leckie

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Saturday, May 22

Blues v NSW Waratahs
(Eden Park, Auckland – Kick-off: 16:35; 14.35 AEST; 04.35 GMT)

The Blues have won their last five Super Rugby games on the bounce against the NSW Waratahs, of which only one has been by a margin of greater than seven points on the day.

Only once in Super Rugby history have the NSW Waratahs won an away game against the Blues in Super Rugby (27-22 in Round 7, 2009); all their 11 remaining attempts have ended in defeat.

The NSW Waratahs have lost their last nine Super Rugby games for just the second time in club history (April 2012 – February 2013); they have never lost more than nine games in succession in the competition.

The NSW Waratahs were one of only two teams (Hurricanes) to finish the first round of Super Rugby Trans- Tasman with a 100% success rate at both the lineout (9/9) and the scrum (6/6).

TJ Faiane (Blues) is set to play his 50th Super Rugby game; he has won both of his two previous encounters with the NSW Waratahs, logging one try and one try assist across that time.

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions


@rugby365com: Blues by seven points

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.

NSW Waratahs: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Turner, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 William Harris, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Max Douglas, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Joe Cotton, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Carlo Tizzano, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Will Harrison.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Lauen Jenner
TMO: Shane McDermott

Chiefs v Brumbies
(FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05; 09.05 GMT)

The Brumbies have won their last two Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Chiefs; the last and only time they won more in succession against them was a six-game stretch from 2000 to 2004.

The Brumbies have lost two games on the bounce heading into this fixture; the last time they lost more than two consecutive Super Rugby games was a five- game stretch from April to May in 2018

The Chiefs and Brumbies have each made 30 clean breaks within the opposition 22m zone in Super Rugby competitions since the beginning of 2021, the joint-most of any team in that time (also Blues)

The Chiefs have made 10+ offloads in each of their last five Super Rugby games, more times than they had done so in their 19 games prior (x4).

Noah Lolesio (Brumbies) has made seven try assists in Super Rugby since the beginning of 2021, the joint-most of any player in Super Rugby competitions in that time alongside James O’Connor (Queensland Reds).

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions


@rugby365com:  Brumbies by five points

Chiefs: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Bailyn Sullivan, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Jonah Lowe, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Rameka Poihipi, 23 Kaleb Trask.

Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Henry Stowers 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Paul Williams & Dan Waenga
TMO: Aaron Paterson

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Reds v Crusaders
(Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane – Kick-off: 19:45; 21.45 NZST; 09.45 GMT)

The Crusaders have won 19 of their last 22 Super Rugby games against the Queensland Reds, including their last eight on the bounce; they have not lost to the Reds in the competition since the 2011 Final (Reds def. Crusaders, 18-13).

The Queensland Reds have won their last 11 consecutive Super Rugby games on home turf and a 12th straight home win would set a new club record in the competition.

The Crusaders succumbed to a 12-20 loss to the NSW Waratahs in Round 6, 2019 in their most recent away game against an Australian team in Super Rugby, snapping a nine-game winning run in such fixtures.

The Queensland Reds have scored seven tries from scrums within the opposition 22m zone since the beginning of 2021, the most of any team in Super Rugby competitions in that time.

Codie Taylor is set to play his 100th Super Rugby game for the Crusaders; he has won all four of his previous Super Rugby games against the Queensland Reds, scoring one try and making two try assists across those encounters.

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, Round two - Teams and Predictions


@rugby365com:  Crusaders by three points

Queensland Reds:15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Jock Campbell, 10 James O’Connor (co-captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (co-captain), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga, 1 Dane Zander.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Feao Fotuaika, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Isaac Henry, 23 Filipo Daugunu.

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 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.

Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy & Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan

Statistical information provided by Opta Data

PV: 47
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