Super Rugby cracks on once again in New Zealand and Australia this weekend, with four more fixtures in the Aotearoa and AU competitions.
Table-toppers the Crusaders are on the road to face the Chiefs on Saturday, ahead of the Western Force’s home match with the New South Wales Waratahs.
Friday’s game sees the Highlanders welcome the Blues to Dunedin, with the Melbourne Rebels wrapping up the action on Sunday at home to the Brumbies.
Super Rugby Aotearoa & AU 2021: Predictions for 16-18 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: Highlanders vs Blues
The Blues face a test of their Super Rugby Aotearoa title mettle when they kick off the weekend’s action away to the Highlanders.
Three wins from five have kept the Auckland side in touch with the Crusaders at the top, while the hosts were edged out by the Chiefs last time out at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
A largely settled Blues side sees the addition of Jonathan Ruru at scrum-half, while Tom Robinson continues to lead the side in the absence of Patrick Tuipulotu.
Josh Dixon comes in at lock for the hosts as Pari Pari Parkinson misses out, while Josh Ioane has been called up at full-back by coach Tony Brown.
Highlanders Starting XV: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Ngatungane Punivai, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan De Groot, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Marino Mikaele-Tu?u, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 James Lentjes.
Blues Starting XV: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 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 Finlay Christie, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Bryce Heem.
Super Rugby Aotearoa: Chiefs vs Crusaders
It’s a clash of two in-form sides on Saturday as the Crusaders travel to play the Chiefs in Waikato in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
Both recorded three-point victories last weekend, with the table-toppers edging out the Hurricanes while the hosts pipped the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Captain Scott Barrett is the only survivor in the forwards as coach Scott Robertson rings the changes, while Mitch Drummond reaches 100 caps in the backs and Leicester Fainga?anuku comes in for the injured Jack Goodhue.
Damian McKenzie shifts to fly-half for the visit of the serial Super Rugby champions, while flanker Lachlan Boshier comes in for this first appearance of the 2021 campaign.
Chiefs Starting XV: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Jonah Lowe, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 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 Pita Gus Sowakula, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Sean Wainui.
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 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Tom Sanders, 6 Scott Barrett (captain), 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Isileli Tu?ungafasi, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili Talitui, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Super Rugby AU: Western Force vs NSW Waratahs
Super Rugby AU continues on Saturday as the Western Force tackle the New South Wales Waratahs at HBF Park.
It’s an opportunity for the hosts to pile on the misery for their visitors, who have lost all six of their 2021 fixtures so far.
Tim Anstee returns to the starting line up at flank for the home side, while there’s also a berth for Brynard Stander at eighth man.
Lachlan Swinton is back in the Waratahs’ side after his recovery from injury, with Ben Donaldson receiving a call up at fly-half.
Western Force Starting XV: 15 Jack McGregor, 14 Richard Kahui, 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 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu?u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Fergus Lee-Warner, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Grason Makara, 23 Jake Strachan.
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 Tom Horton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Sam Caird, 20 Jeremy Williams, 21 Charlie Gamble, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Tane Edmed.
Super Rugby AU: Rebels vs Brumbies
The Rebels meet the Brumbies on Sunday to wrap up the weekend’s Super Rugby AU fixtures at AAMI Park.
It’s a yawning gap that confronts the hosts as they attempt to reel in their visitors and the Queensland Reds at the top of the Aussie table.
Five changes are the order of the day for the away side, including rookie Ryan Lonergan at scrum-half, with James Tucker, Rory Scott and Rob Valenti forming a new-look back row.
The hosts have Isi Naisarani at their disposal for the first time in over a year, as Cameron Orr and Campbell Magnay both feature for the first time in 2021, with Ross Haylett-Petty returning after suspension.
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 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Joshua Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Robert Leota, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Cameron Orr, 19 Lucio Sordoni, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Isi Naisarani, 22 Brad Wilkin, 23 James Tuttle, 24 Lewis Holland, 25 Glen Vaihu.
Brumbies Starting XV: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 James Tucker, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga?a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Will Miller, 21 Nic White, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Mack Hansen.