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Super Rugby Pacific, Round Eight - Teams and Predictions

PREVIEW: Record-seeking TJ Perenara was named to start at scrumhalf in place of the injured Cam Roigard for the Hurricanes who face a huge challenge to their unbeaten Super Rugby record against the Chiefs at the weekend.

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The 23-year-old Roigard has been sidelined for at least six months by a knee injury suffered in the win at the Highlanders two weeks ago.

Fellow All Black Perenara, 32, scored his 60th Super Rugby try in the match against the Highlanders, leaving him just one short of the record set last month by Moana Pasifika wing Julian Savea.

The all-New Zealand blockbuster on Saturday pits the Hurricanes, who have six straight victories, against a visiting Chiefs side that battered Moana Pasifika 68-12 last weekend for a fifth win in seven outings.

“It’s going to be a massive battle,” Hurricanes head coach Clark Laidlaw said as he named his team and acknowledged the threat posed by the visiting Chiefs, who have the in-form All Black fly-half Damian McKenzie orchestrating their attack.

“There’s the obvious threat around him and how well he’s been playing, so we’re expecting the hardest game of the year,” Laidlaw added.

All Black lock Tupou Vaa’i will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance in a powerful Chiefs forward pack.

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Otago head coach Clayton McMillan said the Chiefs would be excited “to test ourselves against a side that are statistically the dominant team in the competition”.

Meanwhile, The Waratahs are confident they can bounce back from the loss of star prop Angus Bell and keep their Super Rugby Pacific season alive, starting with victory against the Crusaders.

Bell will miss the remainder of the campaign after re-injuring the big-toe ligament that has plagued him in recent times, a huge blow to the Waratahs’ chances of a surge back into top-eight contention after a one-six start to their campaign.

Coach Darren Coleman has picked Hayden Thompson-Stringer at loosehead prop to face the Crusaders in Sydney on Friday.

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He will play alongside hooker Julian Heaven and tighthead Harry Johnson-Holmes in the front row, with Lewis Ponini and Tom Ross to come off the bench.

Thompson-Stringer said the squad couldn’t let the loss of 28-cap Wallaby Bell rattle their confidence.

“It’s an unfortunate event that happens in rugby. We’ve had a few boys that have recently taken these long-term injuries,” he said.

“It’s just about trying to show up for the team, put my best foot forward and show what I can do on the pitch.

“The season hasn’t gone the way we want it to, so [playing the Crusaders] is a good opportunity for us to bounce back and build into the next couple of games.”

The result might not have gone the Waratahs’ way in last weekend’s 16-40 loss to the red-hot Brumbies, but the Waratahs might feel luck is ready to turn their way.

The Brumbies thumping followed four straight defeats by six points or fewer, and they were trailing 6-9 seconds from half-time before the Brumbies broke away.

Thompson-Stringer said the side took little comfort from being competitive, and must start getting results or risk their season collapsing.

“We’re getting to the stage in the season where we need to win,” he said.

“We’ve been unfortunate with some results, but we need to worry about ourselves, make sure we put everything in place to really perform against this team at the weekend.

“They’re not a bad team. We know what they offer, we’ve done enough analysis on them to know what they’re going to bring.”

The reigning champions, Crusaders lost their first five outings of the season before beating the high-flying Chiefs last time out.

New Zealand international Ethan Blackadder will resume at flank in the only change to their starting XV.

See below for Round Eight’s teams and predictions!

Friday, April 12:

Moana Pasifika v Reds
(Okara Park, Whangarei – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Reds by four points.

Teams:

Moana Pasifika: 15 Danny Toala, 14 Villiami Fine, 13 Henry Taefu, 12 Julian Savea, 11 Fine Inisi, 10 William Havili, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Sione Havili Talitui (captain), 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 Miracle Faiilagi, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 Christina Lealiifano, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Jordan Petaia, 101 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 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 John Bryant, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Lawson Creighton, 23 Mac Grealy.

Referee: Angus Mabey
Assistant referees: Marcus Playle, Nick Hogan
TMO: Shane McDermott

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

Prediction

@rugby365com: Crusaders by two points.

Teams:

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

Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Riley Hohepa, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie (captain), 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Jamie Hannah, 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 George Bell, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Dominic Gardiner, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Rivez Reihana, 23 Macca Springer.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Jordan Kaminski
TMO: James Leckie

Saturday, April 13:

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

Prediction

@rugby365com: Hurricanes by seven points.

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Peter Lakai, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 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 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Devan Flanders, 22 Richard Judd, 23 Peter Umaga-Jensen.

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Daniel Rona, 12 Anton Leinert-Brown, 11 Etene Nanai Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Wallace Sititi, 7 Luke Jacobson (captain), 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’I, 4 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 3 Reuben O’Neill, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 George Dyer, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Rameka Poihipi.

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

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

Prediction

@rugby365com: Melbourne Rebels by six points.

Teams:

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 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 3 Sam Talakai (captain), 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Isaac Kailea, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Angelo Smith, 20 Daniel Maiava, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Nick Jooste.

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuku-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Taniela Tele’a, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Ajay Faleafaga, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Nikora Broughton, 7 Billy Harmon (captain), 6 Sean Withy, Pari Pari Parkinson, 4 Oliver Haig 3 Saula Ma’u, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Rohan Wingham, 19 Hugo Plummer, 20 Will Stodart, 21 James Arscott, 22 Matt Whaanga, 23 Connor Garden-Bachop.

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

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