Super Rugby continues in New Zealand and Australia this weekend, with four more fixtures split between the Aotearoa and AU competitions between Friday and Sunday.
All eyes are on Eden Park on Sunday as the Blues host the Crusaders, after the Chiefs go to the Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Melbourne Rebels return to home turf on Friday as they kick off the weekend’s action against the Waratahs, with the Reds taking on the Western Force on Saturday in Queensland.
Super Rugby Aotearoa & AU 2021: Predictions for 19-21 March
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision or StatsChat.
Super Rugby AU: Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs
Super Rugby AU reaches its fifth round of action as the Melbourne Rebels host the New South Wales Waratahs on Friday.
The hosts will step out at AAMI Park for the first time in over a year thanks to the global Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions.
Coach Dave Wessels makes four changes to the side that edged out the Western Force last weekend, including the return of Steve Cummins at lock.
The Waratahs had a welcome bye in round four, following a miserable start to the tournament.
They keep changes to a minimum, with Te Tera Faulkner and Harry Johnson-Holmes switching places in the front row.
Melbourne Rebels Starting XV: 15 Tom Pincus, 14 Lachlan Anderson, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Joshua Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cabous Eloff.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Tom Nowlan, 20 Robert Leota, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Glen Vaihu, 23 Frank Lomani.
Waratahs Starting XV: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Alex Newsome (captain), 12 Tepai Moeroa, 11 James Ramm, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jack Grant, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Sam Caird, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Te Tera Faulkner, 2 David Porecki, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 George Francis, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Jeremy Williams, 21 Henry Robertson, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Lalakai Foketi.
Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes vs Chiefs
Something has to give in Super Rugby Aotearoa on Saturday, as the Hurricanes face the Chiefs in Wellington.
The pair meet at the Sky Stadium with both having lost their opening two fixtures in the 2021 New Zealand competition.
Orbyn Leger makes his debut at fly-half for the home side, while Luke Campbell, Salesi Rayasi and Billy Proctor all come in to start.
The visitors make five starting changes and five more on the bench, as Aidan Ross and lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi come into the pack.
Hurricanes Starting XV: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Orbyn Leger, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Wes Goosen.
Chiefs Starting XV: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Samipeni Finau, 20 Simon Parker, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Chase Tiatia.
Super Rugby AU: Queensland Reds vs Western Force
The Queensland Reds are out to maintain their perfect Super Rugby AU start when they host the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Coach Brad Thorn has overseen three wins from three so far and makes just the one change for the visit of the men from Perth.
Ilaisa Droasese comes in for his full debut on the wing in the absence of Filipo Daugunu.
The Force summed up their nearly-but-not-quite competition so far last Friday as they were edged out 7-10 by the Melbourne Rebels.
Prop Greg Holmes makes his first start of the campaign, while Sitaleki Timani returns to the Force side and Samoa international Henry Taefu finds a place in the centres.
Queensland Reds Starting XV: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Ilaisa Droasese, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Dane Zander.
Replacements: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Bryce Hegarty.
Western Force Starting XV: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Richard Kahui, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Brynard Stander (captain), 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Jack Winchester, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Santiago Medrabi, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Tim Anstee, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Jack McGregor, 23 Marcel Brache.
Super Rugby Aotearoa: Blues vs Crusaders
There’s a Sunday treat to be had in Super Rugby Aotearoa at Eden Park, as the Blues host the Crusaders in Auckland.
It’s a top of the table clash in New Zealand, with the visitors having won three from three so far and the hosts two from two.
They even matched each other’s results last weekend, with handsome 39-17 home victories for the Blues over the Highlanders and the Crusaders over the Chiefs.
The visitors have freshened up the pack with Ethan Blackadder and Cullen Grace making their returns from concussion and a rib injury respectively, while All Black prop Joe Moody is back in the front row.
Coach Leon McDonald has the luxury of bringing the likes of Alex Hodgman and Josh Goodhue into his starting side.
Blues Starting XV: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (Captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Finlay Christie, 23 TJ Faiane.
Crusaders Starting XV: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Dallas McLeod.
Antoinette is a recovering journalist, having written for Sports Illustrated, The Guardian, Daily Maverick and others. She has won multiple SAB Journalist of the Year awards, across a variety of categories. She thinks it’s strange writing about herself in the third person, unless she’s playing as herself in The Sims…which she’s been doing for over 20 years.