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The Blues will be looking to continue their red-hot Super Rugby Aotearoa form when they host the Highlanders at Eden Park. Join The Roar for live scores from 5:05pm (AEST).
Far from the New Zealand easybeats they were for the last however-many seasons, the Blues have the look of genuine title contenders about them right now. Their Round 1 win over the Hurricanes was followed by a clinical performance in the rain last weekend against the Chiefs.
With a dominant forward pack and lethal backline, there’s not a lot to dislike about the Auckland side, and the Highlanders will be hard-pressed to stop their momentum.
That said, the Dunedin side were a pleasant surprise when they won their only Super Rugby Aotearoa match to date before the bye last week. Aaron Mauger’s side evidently used the three-month break to work on some pretty serious flaws in their game which had appeared earlier in the year.
Unsurprisingly, the Blues have named an unchanged starting XV for today’s clash, and the only difference to the entire side which won last week is the inclusion of Joe Marchant on the bench for his final game for the club before heading back home to England.
The Highlanders, meanwhile, have made a couple of changes to the line-up which proved too good for the Chiefs two weeks ago. Scott Gregory has been named in the no.15 jersey, while Ngane Punivani makes his return from injury on the bench. Nehe Milner-Skudder is still out with a shoulder injury, while Josh Ioane remains unavailable due to the injury he picked up before Round 1.
Kick-off: 5:05pm (AEST)
Venue: Eden Park
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
15. Beauden Barrett, 14. Mark Telea, 13. Rieko Ioane, 12. TJ Faiane, 11. Caleb Clarke, 10. Otere Black, 9. Sam Nock, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 7. Dalton Papalii, 6. Akira Ioane, 5. Josh Goodhue, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 2. James Parsons, 1. Alex Hodgman
Bench: 16. Kurt Eklund, 17. Marcel Renata, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20. Tony Lamborn, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. Harry Plummer, 23. Joe Marchant
15. Scott Gregory, 14. Sam Gilbert, 13. Rob Thompson, 12. Patelesio Tomkinson, 11. Jona Nareki, 10. Mitch Hunt, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7. Dillon Hunt, 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Josh Dickson, 4. Paripari Parkinson, 3. Siate Tokolahi, 2. Ash Dixon (c) , 1. Ayden Johnstone
Bench: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20. Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21. Kayne Hammington, 22. Bryn Gatland, 23. Ngane Punivai