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All eyes will be on the Highlanders as they travel to Canberra to take on the ACT Brumbies with a Super Rugby Trans-Tasman finals spot on the line. Tune into all the action from the nation’s capital with live scores on The Roar from 7:45pm (AEST).
Having finished second-last in the Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament, the Highlanders have their destiny in their own hands heading into the final round of the Trans-Tasman competition. 11 points clear of the third-placed Crusaders, but locked on 18 points apiece, the Dunedin-based team will likely face a nervous weekend regardless of the result.
However, they could scarcely have been given a tougher fixture with which to stake their claim. The Brumbies have an imposing record at their GIO Stadium fortress, last week’s thrilling 12-10 win over the Hurricanes a prime example. With their own Trans-Tasman season all over bar the shouting, no doubt Dan McKellar’s men will want to play the role of final-shaper for the second successive week.
The return of talismanic skipper Aaron Smith from his All Blacks-imposed resting for last week’s crushing win over the Waratahs gives the Highlanders’ attack a much-needed boost, but there are precious few other changes for the Highlanders from their Round 4 team. As for the Brumbies, Noah Lolesio will be rested as a precaution after suffering an injury during the win over the Hurricanes, while the highly-touted Billy Pollard will make his Super Rugby debut off the bench as the reserve hooker.
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEST)
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Live stream: Stan Sport
Betting: Brumbies $3.10, Highlanders $1.36 (odds via PlayUp)
1. Scott Sio, 2. Lachlan Lonergan, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Nick Frost, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Rory Scott, 8. Henry Stowers, 9. Nic White, 10. Bayley Kuenzle, 11. Mack Hansen, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Tom Wright, 15. Tom Banks
Reserves: 16. Billy Pollard, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Tom Hooper, 20. Luke Reimer, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Solomone Kata
1. Ethan De Groot, 2. Ash Dixon (c), 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Pari Pari Parkinson, 6. Hugh Renton, 7. Billy Harmon, 8. Kazuki Himeno, 9. Aaron Smith (c), 10. Mitch Hunt, 11. Jona Nareki, 12. Scott Gregory, 13. Michael Collins, 14. Sio Tomkinson, 15. Josh Ioane
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Ayden Johnstone, 18. Josh Hohneck, 19. Josh Dickson, 20. James Lentjes, 21. Kayne Hammington, 22. Sam Gilbert, Teariki 23. Ben-Nicholas