Pack down with Super Rugby tips for all seven matches of Round 13, including a big Australian derby and a must-win assignment for the Waratahs in South Africa.
History: Played 30: Hurricanes 15 V Blues 13 (2 Draws)
Last meeting: Round 18, 2018: Hurricanes 42 d Blues 24 at Westpac Stadium
Final Thoughts: The 4-6 Blues’ finals hopes are on tenterhooks after three straight losses to the Chiefs, Highlanders and Brumbies. The 26-21 defeat in Canberra last week was a real lost opportunity, let down by discipline. Rieko Ioane and Tanielu Tele’a return on the wings, but boom flanker Tom Robinson is out injured.
The 8-1-2 Hurricanes are cruising towards a second-place ladder finish, winning four on the trot. But they will be disappointed with the 29-19 final result against the Rebels at home last week after leading 26-0 at halftime. TJ Perenara’s return is a big boost for the visitors.
The Hurricanes have won eight of their last nine against the Blues, including a pair of big wins last season: 36-15 in Auckland and 42-24 in Wellington. Ngani Laumape scored four tries for the ’Canes in the latter. The Hurricanes are 9-1-6 overall at Eden Park.
The Hurricanes have lost just once away this season – to the Crusaders – while the Blues’ only home defeat was to the two-time champs in Round 1. Five of the ’Canes’ eight wins were by six or less and the Blues look a decent shout against the line here.
19:45 (AEST), Fri 10th May @ AAMI Park, Melbourne
History: Played 16: Reds 10 V Rebels 6
Last meeting: Round 7, 2019: Rebels 32 d Reds 13 at Suncorp Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Rebels sit atop the Australian Conference while the Reds are 10th on the overall ladder – but both teams come into Round 13 with 5-5 records. Needless to say, this is a huge battle in the context of the Conference title race.
The Rebels are desperate to regain some momentum after three straight losses to the Stormers, Waratahs and Hurricanes – though they fought back admirably in the second half last week in Wellington. The Reds have won three of their last four, outlasting the Sunwolves 32-26 at home last weekend.
The Reds boast a 5-3 away record against the Rebels. But the Rebels made an emphatic statement with a 32-13 victory in Brisbane earlier this season. The teams’ last six clashes have produced 45-plus points.
The Reds’ recent win in Durban should give them enough confidence to push the out-of-sorts Rebels – who look to be giving away far too many points – very close in Melbourne.
03:10 (AEST), Sat 11th May @ Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
History: Played 26: Crusaders 16 V Bulls 10
Last meeting: Round 6, 2018: Crusaders 33 d Bulls 14 at Christchurch Stadium
Final Thoughts: The top South African team hosts the leading New Zealand side – but the gulf between them is cavernous.
The 6-4 Bulls have been wildly inconsistent, but come into this daunting assignment off a 28-21 victory over the Waratahs at home. Meanwhile, the 8-2-1 Crusaders will be bristling after escaping with a fortunate 21-all draw at home by the Sharks.
Test forwards Schalk Brits and Jason Jenkins return for the Bulls, while All Blacks Richie Mo’unga and Ryan Crotty are back to boost the Crusaders’ backline.
Ten of these teams’ last 11 clashes were won by the home side. But the Crusaders racked up a 64-24 demolition in their last visit to Pretoria in 2017, while they also prevailed 33-14 at home last year. The two-time defending champs should carve out a fairly convincing win.
15:15 (AEST), Sat 11th May @ Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
History: Played 1: Highlanders 1 V Jaguares 0
Last meeting: Round 16, 2016: Highlanders 34 d Jaguares 8 at Jose Amalfitani Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Highlanders are riding a three-game unbeaten streak, but they will be ruing last week’s 31-all draw at home to the Chiefs, conceding a late try after leading by 16 at one stage. They host the 6-4 Jaguares, who have won their last three against the Sharks, Brumbies and Stormers.
Ben Smith is potentially out for the rest of the Super Rugby season in a massive blow to the ’Landers. Matt Faddes slots into the No.15 jumper, with Jordan Hyland coming onto the wing.
The teams have only met once previously, with Elliot Dixon scoring twice as the Highlanders cruised to a 34-8 win over the fledgling Jaguares in Buenos Aries in 2016.
The Highlanders are very short here, but expect them to come out of the blocks quickly and hang on for a vital victory.
17:35 (AEST), Sat 11th May @ FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
History: Played 22: Chiefs 11 V Sharks 11
Last meeting: Round 14, 2018: Sharks 28 d Chiefs 24 at Kings Park
Final Thoughts: The Chiefs sit second-last on the ladder but are only five points outside the Top 8, and bounced back from back-to-back losses to snatch a thrilling late draw with the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Sharks have crept up to fifth with a 5-1-5 record, grabbing a 23-15 win over the Waratahs and a shock draw against the Crusaders so far on their Down Under tour. They were unlucky not to get the win in Christchurch last week.
The Chiefs have six of their last eight against the Sharks, though the Sharks have won two of the last three – both in Durban. The Sharks’ last visit to New Zealand to take on the Chiefs resulted in a 24-22 loss in New Plymouth. Eight of the teams’ last nine clashes were decided by 1-12 margins.
The Chiefs are missing top-class personnel but they should be too good for a Sharks side that would have used up plenty of petrol last week.
23:05 (AEST), Sat 11th May @ Ellis Park, Johannesburg
History: Played 22: Waratahs 17 V Lions 5
Last meeting: Round 10, 2018: Lions 29 d Waratahs 0 at Allianz Stadium
Final Thoughts: The 5-5 Lions enjoyed the bye last weekend to contemplate their mixed three-week overseas sojourn: convincing losses to the Brumbies and Brumbies either side of an upset of the Chiefs.
The 4-6 Waratahs are desperate for a win after losing four of their last five. They have gone down to the Sharks (23-15) at home and the Bulls (28-21) away in the past fortnight.
The Waratahs’ dominant 17-5 all-time record against the Lions is misleading in the context of recent history. The Lions are currently on a three-match winning streak against the ’Tahs, including victories in the last two meetings in Johannesburg and a 29-0 rout in Sydney last year.
The Waratahs are 1-3 on the road this season – only winning away against the Sunwolves by a point – and don’t look capable at the moment of pulling off an upset in the Ellis Park cauldron.
16:05 (AEST), Sun 12th May @ GIO Stadium, Canberra
History: Played 3: Brumbies 3 V Sunwolves 0
Last meeting: Round 16, 2018: Brumbies 41 d Sunwolves 31 at GIO Stadium
Final Thoughts: The Brumbies have crept up to ninth with three wins in their last four games, including a 26-21 victory over the Blues at home in Round 12.
The 2-9 Sunwolves can’t put it together every week, but they are a dangerous side when it clicks. They have bookended a horrific 52-0 loss to the Highlanders in Round 11 with six-point losses to the Hurricanes and Reds in the past three weeks.
The Brumbies have won all three of their matches against the Sunwolves. But the Japanese outfit pushed the Australian heavyweights in both encounters last season, going down 32-25 at home and 41-31 in Canberra.
The Brumbies have won four on the trot at home and should get the job done here. But the Sunwolves have been very good against the line and are getting plenty of points here.