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Super Rugby Pacific, Round 10 - Teams and Predictions

PREVIEW: The door is ajar for Australia’s Super Rugby Pacific teams to tip the win-loss ledger against New Zealand sides in their favour in the race to win that trans-Tasman battle for the first time.

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Heading into Round 10, when there are five trans-Tasman battles as part of the Anzac Day round, Australian teams have won seven games against Kiwi rivals, who have claimed eight.

They have already bettered last year’s effort, when the benchmark Brumbies, Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force managed just six wins from a combined 30 matches.

That 20 percent winning strike rate in 2023 was an improvement on two decades of NZ beat-downs that includes a humiliating combined low of none-from-31 return against the Crusaders, Chiefs, Blues, Hurricanes and Highlanders in 2017.

Melbourne Rebels and Wallabies fullback Andrew Kellaway said while it was a positive statistic there were still six rounds to play before Australian sides could claim any kind of moral victory.

“It’s awesome how the Australian Super teams are going at the moment,” said Kellaway, with the Rebels facing the Crusaders on Friday in Christchurch.

“That being said, there’s still a lot of rugby to be played and a lot of tough rugby to be played.

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“We [the Rebels] have only really played the Highlanders and Hurricanes so we’ve got a lot of tough games coming up against Kiwi teams and so do the rest of the Aussie teams.

“So I think yes, acknowledge where we are at as I think it’s been a really good start, certainly better than past years, but we’re still a long way from where we want to be.”

The Rebels sit at a historic high for this point in the season, fourth on the ladder, with the Brumbies in third, while the table-topping Hurricanes are unbeaten and the Blues in second.

The Australians have been helped by the shock fall of the Crusaders, winners of the last five combined competitions, who are currently ranked last with just one win.

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Kellaway said the next step for the Aussies was to deliver more consistently if they wanted to break a nine-year title drought, with the Waratahs the last team victorious in 2014.

“The challenge for us is not beating these guys every now and then, it’s doing it consistently and that’s across the board for Australian teams and then into the Wallabies,” the 28-year-old said.

“I think I can speak for Australian teams at large to say we want to be competing consistently and winning those games with the guys across the ditch.”

Sixth-placed Queensland host the Blues on Saturday and are 2-1 against New Zealand sides this year, including an extra-time loss to the unbeaten Hurricanes.

They haven’t beaten two Kiwi teams in the same season since 2013, but they have also lost to the struggling Western Force and Moana Pasifika.

“We know how big of a clash it is. At 4-4 we’ve played some good footy and let some others slip,” Reds No.8 Harry Wilson said.

“We have played our best footy against the Kiwi sides; it’s always the games you want to step up and play some good footy.

“It’s really satisfying as we had a pretty poor record and the only way we could change that was to go out and get some wins.

“It feels like we’ve made some real progress there and it’ll be another opportunity this weekend.”

See below for Round 10’s teams and predictions!

Friday, April 26:

Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels
(Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Crusaders by 13 points.

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Heremaia Murray, 10 Rivez Reihana, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Quinted Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 George Bell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Noah Hotham, 22 David Havili, 23 Chay Fihaki.

Rebels: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Filipo Daugunu, 12 David Feliuai, 11 Darby Lancaster, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Vaiolini Ekuasi, 7 Maciu Nabolakasi, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Josh Canham, 4 Tuaina Taii Tualma, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Isaac Kailea, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Angelo Smith, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Nick Jooste.

Referee: Angus Mabey
Assistant referees: Nick Hogan, Anthony Petrie
TMO: Shane McDermott

Waratahs v Chiefs
(Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney – Kick-off: 19.35; 21.35 NZST; 09.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Chiefs by seven points.

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Max Jorgensen, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Tristan Reilly, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Ned Hanigan, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Miles Amatosero, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Julian Heaven, 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer.
Replacements: 16 Jay Fonokalafi, 17 Lewis Ponini, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Will Harrison, 23 Izaia Perese.

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Wallace Sititi, 7 Kalyum Bshier, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 George Dyer, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Jared Proffit, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Quinn Tupaea.

Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant referees: Reuben Keane, Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie

Saturday, April 27:

Fijian Drua v Moana Pasifika
(Churchill Park, Lautoka – Kick-off: 14.05; 14.05 NZST; 02.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Fijian Drua by three points.

Teams:

Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Taniela Rakuro, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Peni Matawalu, 8 Meli Derenalagi, 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Etonia Waga, 5 Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Mesu Dolokoto, 17 Livai Natave, 18 Samu Tawake, 19 Mesake Vocevoce, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Elia Canakaivata, 22 Simione Kuruvoli, 23 Michael Naitokani.

Moana: 15 Danny Toala, 14 Viliami Fine, 13 Henry Taefu, 12 Julian Savea, 11 Fine Inisi, 10 William Havili, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Sione Havili Talitui, 7 Jacob Norris, 6 Irie Papuni, 5 Allan Craig, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Samiuela Moli, 1 Abraham Pole.
Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Sateki Latu, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Ola Tauelangi, 20 Lotu Inisi, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Christian Lealiifano, 23 Neria Fomai.

Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: George Myers, James Palmer
TMO: Oli Kellett

Brumbies v Hurricanes
(Canberra Stadium, Canberra – Kick-off: 14.35; 16.35 NZST; 04.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Hurricanes by five points.

Teams:

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Ollie Sapsford, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Charlie Cale, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Billy Pollard, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Jahrome Brown, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Andy Muirhead.

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Kini Naholo, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 Caleb Delany, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James O’Reilly, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Raymond Tuputupu, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Pasilio Tosi, 19 Ben Grant, 20 Peter Lakai, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Riley Higgins, 23 Bailyn Sullivan.

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Jeremy Markey
TMO: Brett Cronan

Highlanders v Western Force
(Dunedin Stadium, Dunedin – Kick-off: 19.05; 15.05 AWST; 07.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Highlanders by nine points.

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Jake Te Hiwi, 11 Connor Garden-Bachop, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Billy Harmon (captain), 7 Sean Withy, 6 Oliver Haig, 5 Fabian Holland, 4 Mitch Dunshea, 3 Saula Ma’u, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Jack Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Will Tucker, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 James Arscott, 22 Cameron Millar, 23 Martín Bogado.

Force: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Bayley Kuenzle, 13 Sam Spink, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Nic White, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Will Harris, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Marley Pearce.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Josh Bartlett, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Jeremy Williams, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Max Burey, 23 Henry O’Donnell.

Referee: Dan Waenga
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Mike Winter
TMO: Richard Kelly

Reds v Blues
(Lang Park, Brisbane – Kick-off: 19.35; 21.35 NZST; 09.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Blues by eight points.

Teams:

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Tim Ryan, 10 Tom Lynagh, 9 Kalani Thomas, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 John Bryant, 6 Liam Wright, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Connor Vest, 20 Joe Brial, 21 Louis Werchon, 22 Lawson Creighton, 23 Floyd Aubrey.

Blues: 15 Cole Forbes, 14 AJ Lam, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Mark Tele’a, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Taufu Funaki, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Anton Segner, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Soane Vikena, 1 Ofa Tu’ungasfasi.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Laghlan McWhannell, 20 James Thompson, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Corey Evans, 23 Caleb Clarke.

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon
TMO: Chris Hart

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