Super Rugby is building to a climax in New Zealand and Australia this weekend, as the Aotearoa and AU competitions take their final shape.
It’s the penultimate round of action in New Zealand, as the Crusaders finish their campaign on home turf against the Blues, while the Chiefs tackle the Hurricanes on Friday in Waikato.
The Queensland Reds are on the road at the Western Force as they attempt to make it eight wins from eight to complete the Australian tournament, with the winless Waratahs hosting the Melbourne Rebels.
Super Rugby Aotearoa & AU 2021: Predictions for 23-25 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: Chiefs vs Hurricanes
The Chiefs set out to secure second place in the Super Rugby Aotearoa table when they host the Hurricanes on Friday.
Waikato’s FMG Stadium is the venue has the home side look to set up a final with the mighty Crusaders, while the visitors are looking for just a second win of a challenging campaign.
Pita Gus Sowakula comes into the home pack with Juke Jacobson ruled out by concussion, while Damian McKenzie shifts to full-back with Bryn Gatland at fly-half.
Dane Coles takes the captain’s armband for the away side with Ardie Savea ruled out by injury, with Scott Scrafton, Du?Plessis Kirifi and Salesi Rayasi all coming into the starting side.
Chiefs Starting XV: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Lachlan 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 Nathan Harris, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Samipeni Finau, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Rameka Poihipi, 23 Chase Tiatia.
Hurricanes Starting XV: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Ruben Love, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Du?Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Pouri Rakere-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Brayden Lose, 22 Cam Roigard, 23 Billy Proctor.
Super Rugby AU: Western Force vs Queensland Reds
It’s the final round of the regular Super Rugby AU season, with the Queensland Reds putting their perfect record to one final test at the Western Force on Friday.
The visitors are nailed on to top the standings while the home side are setting out to secure their place in third.
Captain Liam Wright, Hunter Paisami and Filipo Daugunu all come back in to bolster the Brisbane side, as the seek to make it eight from eight.
Force coach Tim Sampson also makes three changes, including a comeback for Rob Kearney at full-back.
Western Force Starting XV: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin (captain), 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tom’s Cubelli, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Tim Anstee, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Feleti Kaitu?u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Fergus Lee-Warner, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Richard Kahui, 23 Jack McGregor.
Queensland Reds Starting XV: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O?Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (captain), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Scott-Young, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Richie Asiata, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Josh Flook, 23 Ilaisa Droasese.
Super Rugby AU: NSW Waratahs vs Melbourne Rebels
The New South Wales Waratahs have one last chance to restore some dignity when they host the Melbourne Rebels in the final round of the regular Super Rugby AU season.
It’s a clash between the bottom two in the table, as the Rebels seek a third win of the campaign while the Waratahs attempt to avoid making it eight defeats from eight.
Isi Naisarani comes in to start for the visitors, who also have Brad Wilkin at flank.
The home side have kept faith with the side that lost by the odd point away to the Western Force.
NSW Waratahs Starting XV: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Ramm, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Max Douglas, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Joe Cotton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Jeremy Williams, 20 Michael Wood, 21 Charlie Gamble, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Tane Edmed.
Melbourne Rebels Starting XV: 15 Tom Pincus, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Campbell Magnay, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To?omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Ross Haylett- Petty, 4 Robert Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Faamausili, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joshua Kemeny, 22 Carter Gordon, 23 George Worth.
Super Rugby Aotearoa: Crusaders vs Blues
The Crusaders polish off their regular Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign on Sunday and are out to avoid any slip ups against the Blues.
A win will seal the deal at the top of the standings for the hosts, who take a bye for next week’s final round, although an upset will keep the visitors in with a shout of pinching top spot.
‘Saders coach Scott Robertson has bolstered his pack with the inclusion of Codie Taylor, Sam Whitelock, Sione Havili Talitui and Cullen Grace.
The Blues are also strong up front thanks to the presence of All Black duo Karl Tu?inukuafe and Nepo Laulala.
Crusaders Starting XV: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Leicester Fainga?anuku, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 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 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Blues Starting XV: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane (co-captain), 12 Tanielu Tele?a, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Jonathan Ruru; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (co-captain), 6 Blake Gibson, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu?inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Taine Plumtree, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Otere Black, 23 AJ Lam.