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Super Rugby Pacific, Round Four - Teams and Predictions

PREVIEW: Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou has vowed not to let a clash with the Queensland Reds get personal this weekend as the Melbourne Rebels look to equal their longest win streak in Super Rugby.

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Tupou started his career at the Reds and spent seven years with them before heading south to Melbourne this season on a big-money deal.

Since he jumped ship, the Rebels have entered voluntary administration and their future is uncertain.

The doom and gloom intensified when they were hammered by the Brumbies in the opening match of the season, but gritty victories over Western Force and Moana Pasifika have left them fourth on the 12-team ladder.

Tupou will meet his old team for the first time, admitting facing good friends was something he had struggled with “but I’ve got better over time”.

“Coming into this week I don’t want to look at it and make it personal,” the 27-year-old said ahead of Friday’s clash at home.

“I will just try and focus on what we do here and do whatever it takes to get us the win.”

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The Rebels face a daunting task against a Reds side who have also started with two wins from three and were rock-solid in defence to stun title favourites Chiefs last week.

‘No illusions’

Opening the weekend action, seven-time champions the Crusaders play the table-topping Hurricanes after three straight losses – their worst start to a Super Rugby season since the competition began in 1996.

The Crusaders have home advantage but will be missing skipper Scott Barrett, who is out with a fractured finger, joining All Blacks teammate Will Jordan (shoulder) and British & Irish Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny (chest muscle) on the sidelines.

Nevertheless, ‘Canes coach Clark Laidlaw is expecting a thorough examination from a side desperate to stop the rot.

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“We’re under no illusions what the Crusaders can do. We know what’s coming and how tough it’s going to be,” said Laidlaw, whose team is the only unbeaten side so far.

In other matches, Force meet Moana in Perth as they too attempt to halt a three-match losing streak.

The Chiefs play on Saturday at home against the Fijian Drua while the Brumbies travel to Dunedin to take on the Highlanders.

Injuries have forced the Waratahs to make sweeping changes against the Blues, with an entirely new front row.

The odds were already stacked against the Sydney-based side, with the Blues winning nine on the trot against them.

“These away games are important for us early in the season,” said Blues skipper Dalton Papali’i.

“We have a run of home games through the middle of the competition and we don’t want to look back at these early season games and have any regrets.”

See below for all of Round Four’s teams and predictions!

Friday, March 15:

Crusaders v Hurricanes
(Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch – Kick-off: 19.05; 06.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Hurricanes by five points.

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 David Havili (captain), 11 Macca Springer, 10 Riley Hohepa, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dominic Gardiner, 5 Zach Gallagher, 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 George Bell, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ioane Moananu, 17 Finlay Brewis, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Tahlor Cahill, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Dallas McLeod.

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor (co-captain), 12 Riley Higgins, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 Cam Roigard, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Peter Lakai, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Tucker, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua (co-captain), 1 Tevita Mafileo.
Reserves: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Pasilio Tosi, 19 Justin Sangster, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Salesi Rayasi.

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

Melbourne Rebels v Queensland Reds
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne – Kick-off: 19.35; 18.35 AEST; 08.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Reds by 10 points.

Teams:

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Filipo Daugunu, 12 David Feliuai, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Rob Leota (captain), 7 Vaiolini Ekuasi, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Josh Canham, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Dobbins, 17 Isaac Kailea, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Maciu Nabolakasi, 21 Angelo Smith, 22 Jake Strachan, 23 James Tuttle.

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Isaac Henry, 11 Mac Grealy, 10 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, 9 Tate McDermott (co-captain), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (co-captain), 5 Ryan Smith, 4 Seru Uru, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 George Blake, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Cormac Daly, 20 John Bryant, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Tom Lynagh, 23 Jordan Petaia.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Matt Kellahan, George Myers
TMO: Brett Cronan

Western Force v Moana Pasifika
(Perth Rectangular Stadium, Perth – Kick-off: 19.00; 11.00 GMT; 00.00 Saturday, March 15 NZDT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Western Force by three points.

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Max Burey, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Bayley Kuenzle, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Tim Anstee, 5 Jeremy Williams (captain), 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Ryan Coxon.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Josh Bartlett, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Lopeti Faifua, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Ollie Callan, 22 Nic White, 23 George Poolman.

Moana Pasifika: 15 Danny Toala, 14 Nigel Ah Wong, 13 Henry Taefu, 12 Julian Savea, 11 Karen Taumoefolau, 10 Christian Lealifano, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Lotu Inisi, 7 Sione Havili Talitui (captain), 6 Jacob Norris, 5 Allan Craig, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Sama Malolo, 1 Abraham Pole.
Replacements: 16 Samiuela Moli, 17 Sateki Latu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ola Tauelangi, 20 Irie Papuni, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 William Havili, 23 Pepesana Patafilo.

Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Jordan Kaminski, Ben Jones
TMO: Kyle Burnett

Saturday, March 16:

Highlanders v Brumbies
(Otago Stadium, Dunedin – Kick-off: 16.35; 14.35 AEDT; 03.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Highlanders by eight points.

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Martin Bogado, 10 Cameron Millar, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Nikora Broughton, 7 Billy Harmon (captain), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Max Hicks, 4 Fabian Holland, 3 Saula Ma’u, 2 Jack Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Henry Bell, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Oliver Haig, 20 Sean Withy, 21 James Arscott, 22 Ajay Faleafaga, 23 Connor Garden-Bachop.

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan (captain), 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Sosefo Kautai, 2 Billy Pollard, 1 Blake Schoupp.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rhys van Nek, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rory Scott, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Declan Meredith, 23 Ollie Sapsford.

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

Chiefs v Fijian Drua
(Waikato Stadium, Hamilton – Kick-off: 19.05; 18.05 FJT; 06.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Chiefs by 20 points.

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Daniel Rona, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Luke Jacobson (captain), 7 Kaylum Boshier, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 3 Reuben O’Neill, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 George Dyer, 19 Josh Lord, 20 Tom Florence, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Quinn Tupaea.

Fijian Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Michael Naitokani, 11 Junior Ratuva, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Meli Derenalagi (captain), 7 Vilive Miramira, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Ratu Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Jone Koroiduadua, 2 Mesulame Dolokoto, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Zuriel Togiatama, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Elia Canakaivata, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Taniela Rakuro.

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

Waratahs v Blues
(Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney – Kick-off: 19.35; 21.35 NZDT; 08.35 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Blues by six points.

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Triston Reilly, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Langi Gleeson, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Julian Heaven, 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer.
Replacements: 16 Jay Fonokalafi, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Miles Amatosero, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Lachlan Swinton, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Harry Wilson.

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Laghlan McWhannell, 4 Josh Beehre, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Cameron Suafoa, 20 Anton Segner, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Cole Forbes.

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

Additional source AFP

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