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Super Rugby Pacific, Round 13 - Teams and Predictions

PREVIEW: Melbourne doesn’t know if Friday’s Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Chiefs will be their last ever home game, but they intend playing like it is to cement a maiden finals berth.

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The future of the cash-strapped franchise in the competition remains uncertain beyond 2024 as they await a decision from Rugby Australia.

Rebels wing Lachie Anderson said the team hadn’t spoken about the match possibly being their last at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, but it was still part of the build-up.

“It probably is the elephant in the room – the uncertainty, we’re dealing with things that no other Super Rugby franchise is at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve dealt with it for 13 weeks now and it’s no different this week.

“You’re not short of motivation; we realise the opportunity to play at home is massive for us, and we understand what a win would do for us and the program.

“Everyone would like to know [about the future] but I think the staff and players are doing an incredible job of focusing on the rugby and it probably gives us good relief from the external stuff.”

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The Rebels currently sit sixth on the ladder and need a win from their remaining three matches to cement a maiden play-off position.

They have away matches against the Brumbies (second) and Fijian Drua (eighth) to come.

They head into the clash with the fourth-placed Chiefs on the back of three losses, most recently losing a tight battle with Queensland.

The Chiefs have won their last three matches and are desperate for another crack at the title after losing the Final last year to the Crusaders.

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Anderson said the team spoke regularly about leaving a legacy as the most successful Rebels team in the franchise’s history.

“It’s important – we as players want to write history here, we want to leave a legacy behind and leave the place in a better position than when we started,” said the 26-year-old, who was part of the sevens team at the Tokyo Olympics.

“We have the opportunity to play finals footy, which no Rebels team have ever done, so that’s what our target is.

“We speak about it a lot, it’s definitely a goal of ours.”

Meanwhile, Eyeing an all-important top-two finish, the Brumbies are dismissing the Crusaders’ lowly spot on the ladder ahead of a nostalgic showdown with the 11-times Super Rugby kings.

The Brumbies host the Crusaders on Saturday at Canberra Stadium in the marquee fixture of Heritage Round.

It’s a huge occasion as all but one member of the Brumbies squad from their 2004 Final triumph over the Crusaders gather in Canberra to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the team’s second and last title.

Wallaby star Tom Wright says it’s important for Stephen Larkham’s class of 2024 to deliver a special performance as they try to emulate their heroes.

“They’re on the walls everywhere and there’s some of the most famous players from Australia, not just the Brumbies, but some of the biggest names,” Wright said.

“It’s awesome that we touch on that because they laid the foundations for the Brumbies following them.

“So the opportunity to connect with them would be nice, and obviously knowing that it was the Crusaders [who they beat], all that sort of stuff comes into it.

“And it’s nice that we’re paying homage with the [retro] jersey and all that sort of stuff too – even the Canberra Milk-style training shirts are a nice touch.”

Two decades on and Wright’s mob are desperate to create their own history with a drought-breaking title.

“We all want to leave our mark on the place here,” Wright said.

Sitting third, four points behind the second-placed Hurricanes, the Brumbies probably need to win their last three games to squeeze into the top two and earn the chance of two home play-offs, and possibly even a Final in the national capital.

They can’t afford any slip-ups so are suitably wary of the Crusaders as the defending champions languish in second-last position.

“Every week, whoever comes up against the Crusaders, the first thing they say is they aren’t actually taking any notice of where they’re sitting on the ladder,” Wright said.

“The strike power they’ve got and the respect they’ve earned over the years, they have the ability to hurt you whether they’re 20-nil up or 20-nil down.

“The Crusaders are a big franchise in this competition and have been for a long time.”

See below for Round 13’s teams and predictions!

Friday, May 17:

Hurricanes v Moana Pasifika
(Wellington Regional Stadium – Kick-off: 19.05; 07.05 GMT)

Predictions

@rugby365com: Hurricanes by 30 points.

Hurricanes: 15 Harry Godfrey, 14 Daniel Sinkinson, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 Richard Judd, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Ben Grant, 4 Justin Sangster, 3 Siale Lauaki, 2 Raymond Tuputupu, 1 Pouri Rakete-Stones.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Pasilio Tosi, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawe, 20 Peter Lakai, 21 Jordi Viljoen, 22 Riley Higgins, 23 Salesi Rayasi.

Moana: 15 Danny Toala, 14 Fine Inisi, 13 Henry Taefu, 12 Julian Savea, 11 Neria Fomai, 10 William Havili, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Lotu Inisi, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Jacob Norris, 5 Allan Craig, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Samieula Moli, 1 Abraham Pole.
Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Tevita Langi, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Ola Tauelangi, 20 Alamanda Motuga, 21 Aisea Halo, 22 Christian Lealiifano, 23 Anzelo Tuitavuki.

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

Melbourne Rebels v Chiefs
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium – Kick-off: 19.35; 21.35 NZST; 09.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Chiefs by nine points.

Teams:

Rebels: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Filipo Daugunu, 12 Nick Jooste, 11 Darby Lancaster, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Vaiolinil Ekuasi, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Josh Canham, 4 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Isaac Kailea.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Dobbins, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Angelo Smith, 20 Maciu Nabolakasi, 21 Rob Leota, 22 Jack Maunder, 23 Glen Vaihu.

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Luke Jacobson (captain), 7 Kaylum Boshier, 6 Simon Parker, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 3 George Dyer, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Jared Proffit, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Wallace Sititi, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Rameka Poihipi.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy; George Myers
TMO: Oli Kellett

Saturday, May 18:

Fijian Drua v Reds
(Buckhurst Park, Suva – Kick-off: 14.05; 12.05 AEST; 02.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Reds by three points.

Teams:

Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Waqa Nalaga, 11 Epeli Momo, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Elia Canakaivata, 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Isoa Nasilasila, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Jone Koroiduadua.
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Samu Tawake, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Taniela Rakuro.

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Taj Annan, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Floyd Aubrey, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Tate McDemortt, 8 John Bryant, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright, 5 Cormac Daly, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Josh Nasser, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 George Blake, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Joe Brial, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 James O’Connor, 23 Tim Ryan.

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Matt Kellahan; Jeremy Markey
TMO: Brett Cronan

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

Prediction

@rugby365com: Brumbies by seven points.

Teams:

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Ollie Sapsford, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Nick Frost, 5 Caderyn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Liam Bowron, 17 Rhys van Nek, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Tom Hooper, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Ben O’Donnell.

Crusaders: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Chay Fihaki, 13 Jone Rava, 12 David Havili, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Antonio Shalfoon, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 George Bell, 17 George Bower, 18 Seb Calder, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Dominic Gardner, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Rivez Reihana, 23 Macca Springer.

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Stu Curran; Jackson Henshaw
TMO: Glenn Newman

Blues v Highlanders
(Eden Park, Auckland – Kick-off: 19.05; 07.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Blues by 17 points.

Teams:

Blues: 15 Cole Forbes, 14 AJ Lam, 13 Bryce Heem, 12 Corey Evans, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papali’i (captain), 6 Adrian Choat, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Laghlan McWhannell, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Mason Tupaea, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Josh Beehre, 20 Cameron Suafoa, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Kade Banks

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Jake Te Hiwi, 11 Martín Bogado, 10 Cameron Millar, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Nikora Broughton, 7 Sean Withy, 6 Oliver Haig, 5 Fabian Holland, 4 Mitch Dunshea, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Ethan de Groot (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Taylor, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Saula Ma’u, 19 Will Tucker, 20 Will Stodartt, 21 James Arscott, 22 Sam Gilbert, 23 Finn Hurley.

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

Western Force v Waratahs
(Perth Superdrome – Kick-off: 19.35; 21.35 AEST; 09.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Western Force by five points.

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 George Poolman, 13 Bayley Kuenzle, 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 Jeremy Williams, 3 Sanitago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Harry Hoopert.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Marley Pearce, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Lopeti Faifua, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Sam Spink, 23 Henry O’Donnell.

Waratahs: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Triston Reilly, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Miles Amatosero, 4 Fergus Lee-Warner, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Jay Fonokalafi, 1 Lewis Ponini.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sugars, 17 George Thornton, 18 Brad Amituanai, 19 Hugh Sinclair, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Izaia Perese.

Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant referees: Reuben Keane; Jordan Kaminski
TMO: Kyle Burnett

Source: AAP

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