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The Roar's Super Rugby expert tips and predictions, Round 9: Big test for Les, Blues backed to best Brumbies

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18th April, 2024
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Fijian Drua will try to end the 7-0 streak of the table-topping Hurricanes to kick off a spicy weekend of action that has split the tipping pool.

The Reds have been given another chance by the panellists after their shocker against Moana Pasifika last weekend, where they lost the game and Wallabies Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight to suspensions. They face a huge banana skin game against the Highlanders, and a big test of Les Kiss’ ability to get them back on track.

The Brumbies are in third and travel to second placed Auckland Blues on Saturday. This should be a cracker but three of our four panellists see it going the way of the Kiwis.

Don’t forget to register your tips at the bottom of the page.

Christy Doran

Hurricanes, Reds, Brumbies, Crusaders

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There’s only four matches this weekend, but we’ll get a real understanding of whether the Brumbies – Australia’s top side – have a chance of winning their third Super Rugby title this year.

But first to Suva. The Drua have a phenomenal home record, but an unusual Friday night match could help the Hurricanes in keeping their unbeaten streak alive. 

Clark Laidlaw has paid the required respect to go to Suva and get the job done too. He’s starting Jordie Barrett and he’s bringing on a stack of fire power in the second half, including Asafo Aumua. I’ll tip the Hurricanes by 10 points.

Salestino Ravutaumada of the Fijian Drua is tackled during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between Fijian Drua and Western Force. (Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

The Reds were terrible last week. It was their worst performance of the year by a mile, with their execution horrendous. They haven’t been helped by suspensions of Fraser McReight and Tate McDermott, as well as injuries to Seru Uru and Josh Flook, but they should have enough to get past the Highlanders, who have a new halves combination.

Saturday afternoon and the Brumbies head to Eden Park in the match of the weekend. It’ll be a cracker. The Blues have some firepower and muscle out wide, but the Brumbies’ pack is so well balanced. What has me tipping the Brumbies is the settled nature of their halves and the finishers to come off the bench. I’ll go for the upset and tip the Brumbies.

The Force welcome back two experienced Wallabies, as well as Argentine Santiago Medrano. He’s the most important of the lot given the strength and depth the Crusaders have in the front-row. This could go either way, but I tend to think the Crusaders might just have a bit too much power up front, including in the midfield.  

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Nick Wasiliev

DruaReds, Blues, Crusaders

Right, time to catch up… As discussed on our preview podcast, the later evening game in Fiji may have an impact conditions-wise but I think the key clash is the benches, and my word the Canes have stacked theirs.

Drua have done some planning of their own though, and with Meli Derenaligi at the forefront of the bench both sides are clearly targeting that back half of the game. I’m going Drua at home because Fiji does what Fiji do, but not by much.

In game two, both of these sides sit in very similar spots this season, and both are desperate for a W. Despite the sanctioned players, the Reds do have some good quality backups and will look to target that Highlanders halves combination.

The Landers will be hoping to come home with a wet sail, led by Folau Fakatava off the bench, but Queensland are a good side at home. 

Folau Fakatava of the Highlanders reacts during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on February 25, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Folau Fakatava of the Highlanders reacts during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on February 25, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Game three: phwoar, what a start to the weekend! Several big names back on both sides, both very settled squads, couple of omissions in key positions – there is a lot to play for here, and with the last three games between the two sides decided by a margin of five or fewer, it should be a cracker. However, I’m picking the home side, as the Brumbies haven’t tasted victory at Eden Park in 11 years. Urgh, that felt gross just typing that.

Yes, the Kiwis will sweep on Saturday. I love the names in abundance coming back for the Force, but Simon Cron’s men and I are not on good terms right now. I worry about the team cohesion, the casualty ward, the poor start to the season. They are clearly in catch-up mode. Even with the exciting names, even with Perth proving a tough hunting ground for most sides, the lack of game time together worries me. It’s been eleven years since the Force last tasted victory over the Crusaders, and with the visitors having the more settled side I see them winning in a thriller.

Hamish Bidwell

Drua, Reds, Blues, Crusaders

  • I’ve under-estimated the Hurricanes all season and I’ll under-estimate them here again. I just think the Fiji factor is too strong. 
  • I’ll never question the Highlanders’ effort. They’re just short on quality.
  • Second vs third should be a blockbuster, but I reckon the Blues will win by plenty.
  • I think we have to go back to 1996 to see a Crusaders team as bad as this one. Surely they can win this one? 

Tony Harper

Hurricanes, Highlanders, Blues, Crusaders

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It’s NSW school holidays week one and I’ve been sweating my way around the theme parks of the Gold Coast, with six kids (no, not all mine, that would be insane) in tow.

A favourite pastime on such outings surrounded by fairy floss and too many over-sized humans is to tally the number and variety of supporter shirts being flaunted on the Green Lantern and/or Leviathan etc.

Round ball jerseys usually dominate – Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal and a depressing number of Al-Nassr Ronaldo No.7 shirts.

But the big shock was the number and variety of rugby shirts here this week – schools, NPC, Super Rugby and of course the iconic all black kit. Well, it was a shock right up to the point the fast food merchant ran out of fush and chups and I realised it’s also the Kiwi school holidays.

So in honour of our fellow Down Underers and their mass migration to our theme parks, I’ve tipped all four Kiwi teams to win this week. Anyone familiar with my game knows that’s a great sign for their opposition.

Round 8ChristyNick Tony HamishThe Crowd
Overall3029262531
Last week22122
FIJ v HURHurricanesDruaHurricanesDrua?
RED v HIGRedsRedsHighlandersReds?
BLU v BRU BrumbiesBluesBluesBlues?
FOR v CRUCrusadersCrusadersCrusadersCrusaders?
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