The Super Rugby action continues Down Under this weekend, with four more fixtures split between the Aotearoa and AU competitions.
Everything builds towards the blockbuster clash between the Hurricanes and the Crusaders at the Sky Stadium on Sunday.
A top-of-the-table clash in Australia, meanwhile, sees log leaders the Queensland Reds host the Brumbies on Saturday.
Their tussle follows the New Zealand match between the Highlanders and Chiefs, while the weekend kicks off on Friday when the Melbourne Rebels host the Western Force.
Super Rugby Aotearoa & AU 2021: Predictions for 9-11 April
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: Rebels vs Western Force
Super Rugby AU weekend kicks off on Friday as the Melbourne Rebels host the Western Force at AAMI Park.
The home side tasted defeat on home turf last weekend against the log-leading Reds, while the visitors put their feet up for a bye week.
Five changes are the order of the day for the Rebels as Rob Leota features for the first time in over a year, while Reece Hodge is set to be deployed at full-back.
Australian international Kyle Godwin makes his return from injury for the Force, who also feature a quartet of Argentinians in Santiago Medrano, Tomas Lezana, Tomas Cubelli and Domingo Miotti.
Rebels Starting XV: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Lewis Holland, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Robert Leota, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cabous Eloff.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Steven Cummins, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Tom Pincus, 23 Jeral Skelton.
Western Force Starting XV: 15 Jack McGregor, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin (captain), 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Tomás Lezana, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester, Angus Wagner, Kieran Longbottom, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Grason Makara, Richard Kahui.
Super Rugby Aotearoa: Highlanders vs Chiefs
The Highlanders and Chiefs meet for a mid-table tussle in Super Rugby Aotearoa in Dunedin on Saturday, as they square up at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
A second win of the campaign came against the odds for the home side last weekend as they came away from the Crusaders with victory, while the Chiefs enjoyed a bye weekend.
Plenty of changes have been made by Highlanders coach Tony Brown, who brings Josh Hohneck into the front row while Ngatugnane Punivai returns to the wing following injury.
The refreshed Chiefs have Tupou Vaa’i in at lock, while Kaylum Boshier steps into the considerable shoes of injured co-captain Sam Cane.
Highlanders Starting XV: 15 Connor Garden-Bachop, 14 Ngatungane Punivai, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Paripari Parkinson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ethan De Groot.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Hugh Renton.
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 (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Kaylum Boshier, 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 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Shaun Stevenson.
Super Rugby AU: Queensland Reds vs Brumbies
It’s a summit meeting in Super Rugby AU on Saturday as the Queensland Reds put their perfect record to the test against the Brumbies.
The hosts have won six form six in the Australian competition so far but have the second-placed away side just four points behind them as they arrive in Brisbane.
An unchanged home line up will take the field at the Suncorp Stadium, which means Bryce Hegarty will continue at full-back.
The visitors are boosted by the return of captain Alan Alaalatoa, while there’s a second-row berth for Darcy Swain.
Queensland Reds Starting XV: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Jock Campbell, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Richie Asiata, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Josh Flook, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
Brumbies Starting XV: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Nick Frost, 20 James Tucker, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.
Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes vs Crusaders
Super Rugby Aotearoa produces a bottom-versus-top contest on Sunday, as the struggling Hurricanes host the Crusaders in Wellington.
The Sky Stadium clash does, however, come off the back of the visitors’ first defeat of the New Zealand campaign, at home to the Highlanders last weekend.
Joe Moody reaches 100 caps for the ‘Saders, while Bryn Hall and Sevu Reece return to add some impetus to the backline.
Teenager Ruben Love’s introduction at fly-half is a bold move for the Hurricanes, while Isaia Walker-Leawere and Devan Flanders are promoted from the bench to bolster the pack.
Hurricanes Starting XV: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Ruben Love, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Ardie Savea (captain), 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 22 Jonathan Taumateine, 23 Billy Proctor.
Crusaders Starting XV: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku.