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Super Rugby Pacific: The Trans-Tasman battle

PREVIEW, ROUND TWO: Super Rugby Pacific heads to Super Round as all 12 teams converge in Melbourne this weekend.

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Round Two will kick off with the Blues facing the Highlanders as both teams come off first-round victories, followed by the Melbourne Rebels taking on the Western Force.

It’s a battle of the Pacific sides to kick-off Saturday with Fijian Drua facing Moana Pasifika whilst the NSW Waratahs look to continue their strong away record against the Crusaders.

Two blockbuster games finish the round as the Chiefs take on the Brumbies whilst the Hurricanes face the Queensland Reds.

Brumbies v Chiefs is fast becoming one of Super Rugby’s great rivalries and both sides are well placed after bagging derby wins last week.

They’ll meet at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium having never lost at a Super Round encounter and with plenty to prove.

Few Brumbies fans will forget consecutive losses to the Waikato men in 2023, including a 21-32 loss at their Canberra fortress and a 6-19 semifinal defeat, while the Chiefs are yet to forgive a shock 28-38 home defeat that torpedoed their top-two hopes in 2022.

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Speaking to media on Wednesday, Wallabies and Brumbies hooker Lachlan Lonergan admitted his desire to “get one up” over the Chiefs and predicted a “physical battle” against last year’s beaten finalists.

He’s been named in a largely unchanged side to tackle the Chiefs, who’ve also rolled out a star-studded lineup including Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown and Shaun Stevenson.

Titles aren’t won in Round Two but with many pundits predicting a Chiefs-Brumbies decider this year, it’s time to see which Trans-Tasman heavyweight has the goods early in 2024.

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All the teams and predictions for Round Two: 

Friday, March 1

Highlanders v Blues
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kick-off: 18.00, 20.00 NZST; 07.00 GMT)

Prediction:

@rugby365: Blues by five points

Teams: 

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Hugh Renton, 7 Billy Harmon (captain), 6 Sean Withy, 5 Max Hicks, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 1 Saula Ma’u, 19 Fabian Holland, 20 Nikora Broughton, 21 Nathan Hastie, 22 Ajay Faleafaga, 23 Jonah Lowe

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Tele’a, 13 AJ Lam, 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Taufa Funaki, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Laghlan McWhannell, 3 Marcel Renata, 2, Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Josh Beehre, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Cole Forbes

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, Reuben Keane

Melbourne Rebels v Western Force
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kick-off: 20.10, 22.10 NZST; 09.10 GMT)

Prediction:

@rugby365: Melbourne Rebels by three points

Teams: 

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

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

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, James Doleman

Saturday, March 2

Moana Pasifika v Fijian Drua
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kick-off: 17.00; 21.00 WST; 20.00 FJT; 06.00 GMT)

Prediction:

@rugby365: Fijian Drua by five points

Teams

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

Fijian Drua: 15 Isikeli Rabitu, 14 Epeli Momo, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Selestino Ravutaumada, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Meli Derenalagi (captain), 7 Ella Canakaivata, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Isoa Nasilasila, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Livai Natave
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 1 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Jone Koroiduadua, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Junior Ratuva

Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, Mike Winter

Crusaders v Waratahs
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kick-off: 19.35, 21.35 NZST; 08.35 GMT)

Prediction:

@rugby365: Crusaders by 15 points

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 David Havili, 11 Macca Springer, 10 Taha Kemara, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dominic Gardiner, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 George Bell, 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Dallas McLeod

Waratahs: 15 Max Jorgensen, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Harry Wilson, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Langi Gleeson, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Hugh Sinclair, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Mahe Vailanu, 1 Angus Bell
Replacements: 16 Julian Heaven, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Dan Botha, 19 Miles Amatosero, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Teddy Wilson, 22 Mosese Tuipulotu, 23 Triston Reilly

Referee: James Mabey
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Dan Waenga

Sunday, March 3

Chiefs v Brumbies
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kick-off: 14.00, 16.00 NZST; 03.00 GMT)

Prediction:

@rugby365: Chiefs by three points

Teams:

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

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

Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant Referees: Mike Winter, Dan Waenga

Hurricanes v Reds
(Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kick-off: 16.30, 18.30 NZST; 05.30 GMT)

Prediction:

@rugby365: Hurricanes by five points

Teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 Cam Roigard, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Peter Lakai, 6 TK Howden, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 Caleb Delany, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Pasilio Tosi, 19 Justin Sangster, 20 Veveni Lasaqa, 21 Jordi Viljoen, 22 Riley Higgins, 23 Salesi Rayasi

Reds: 15 Jordan Petaia, 14 Suli Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Jock Campbell, 10 Tom Lyngah, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright, 5 Ryan Smith, 4 Seru Uru, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Cormac Daly, 20 John Bryant, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, 23 Mac Grealy

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry, Damon Murphy

Source: @SuperRugbyPacific 

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