Super Rugby continues this weekend in New Zealand and Australia, with four more fixtures in the Aotearoa and AU competitions.
The Crusaders are back from their bye week to tackle the Highlanders in Christchurch on Friday, followed by a clash between the New South Wales Waratahs and the Brumbies across the water.
Saturday sees an Eden Park fixture between the Blues and the Hurricanes, with the Queensland Reds visiting the Melbourne Rebels.
Super Rugby Aotearoa & AU 2021: Predictions for 2-3 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 Aotearoa: Crusaders vs Highlanders
It’s a top-versus-bottom clash in Super Rugby Aotearoa on Friday as the Crusaders take on the Highlanders at the Orangetheory Stadium.
The serial Super Rugby winners are four from four in their 2021 campaign so far, giving them an imposing eight-point lead over the Blues in second.
Three defeats have blighted the visitors’ competition so far, leaving them level at the foot of the standings with the Hurricanes.
Wing George Bridge’s return is a huge boost for coach Scott Robertson and his side, who come into this one off the back of a bye week.
Things went from bad to worse for the away side this week, with six players axed for ‘breaching the team code’ including All Black Josh Ioane.
Crusaders Starting XV: 15 Will Jordan, 14 George Bridge, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga?anuku, 10 Richie Mo?unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Sevu Reece.
Highlanders Starting XV: 15 Connor Garden-Bachop, 14 Scott Gregory, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Paripari Parkinson, 4 Bryn Evans, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ethan De Groot.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 22 Caleb Makene, 23 James Lentjes.
Super Rugby AU: Waratahs vs Brumbies
The Brumbies are eying up top spot in Super Rugby AU as they travel to the rock-bottom New South Wales Waratahs on Friday.
Sydney Cricket Ground is the venue as the hosts attempt to win for the first time this season, while the men from Canberra would go above the Queensland Reds at the summit with victory, ahead of the Brisbane side’s fixture on Saturday.
Australian international Tom Wright returns to the wing for the visitors, with Tom Cusack coming in at flank and Nick Frost earning his first start of 2021 in the second row.
Five changes are the latest attempt to snatch an opening victory for the home side, who welcome back captain Jake Gordon at scrum-half.
Waratahs Starting XV: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Ramm, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Max Douglas, 4 Jeremy Williams, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Michael Wood, 20 Charlie Gamble, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase.
Brumbies Starting XV: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White (captain), 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 James Slipper, 2 Folau Fainga?a, 1 Harry Lloyd.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Fred Kaihea, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 James Tucker, 20 Rory Scott, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Mack Hansen.
Super Rugby Aotearoa: Blues vs Hurricanes
The Blues and Hurricanes go head-to-head at Eden Park in Super Rugby Aotearoa on Saturday.
A 15-12 defeat away to the Chiefs last weekend saw the hosts fail to close the gap on the Crusaders at the top of the table, as the leaders took their bye week.
There was better news for the ‘Canes, though, who snaffled a first win of the season away to the Highlanders.
Patrick Tuipulotu continues to recover from a shoulder injury but there’s better news for Tom Robinson, who is restored to the Blues starting line up as captain.
Julian Savea returns to the visitors’ wing, while Fraser Armstrong and James Blackwell are drafted in to bolster the pack.
Blues Starting XV: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Sam Darry, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Karl Tu?inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam.
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 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Wes Goosen.
Super Rugby AU: Rebels vs Queensland Reds
It’s a tough Super Rugby AU task on the hands of the Melbourne Rebels as they host the table-topping Queensland Reds on Saturday.
The pair meet at AAMI Park with the Brisbane side having won five from five so far, while the hosts have won two and lost two to sit slap-bang in midtable.
Hamish Stewart comes into the Reds’ centres to notch his 50th appearance, as Bryce Hegarty gets the nod to start at full-back.
Jordan Uelese comes into the middle of the home side’s front row, while Frank Lomani comes in on the wing for his first start of the campaign.
Rebels Starting XV: 15 Tom Pincus, 14 Frank Lomani, 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 Fa?amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cabous Eloff.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Albert Anae, 19 Tom Nowlan, 20 Robert Leota, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Lewis Holland, 23 Jeral Skelton, 24 Lucio Sordoni, 25 Glen Vaihu.
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 Angus Blyth, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Josh Flook, 23 Filipo Daugunu.