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The Highlanders and the Blues will both be keen to get back among the Super Rugby winners when they go head-to-head on Saturday. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog, starting from 5:35pm AEST.
After spending a few years as the weak team of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference, the Blues finally look like a side that could play finals in 2019.
Their season got off to an oh-so-close start, falling two points short of the near-unbeatable Crusaders, only to cop the disappointment of then going on to lose to the Sharks and Blues.
However a win over the Sunwolves kickstarted some good form for the Aucklanders, who went on to record four consecutive victories.
Probably the most impressive of those came a few weeks ago against the same side they’ll play today, making use of the home ground advantage to trump the Highlanders 33-26.
They would’ve been disappointed last week to go down to fellow New Zealanders the Chiefs by just four points and will want to get right back on the horse with a win today.
As for the Highlanders, after winning their first two matches of the season, they’ve suffered five consecutive defeats, and any plans they had for finals action are rapidly slipping away.
Bar last week’s 26-point capitulation to the Crusaders, all of those losses have been within a margin of seven points or closer – so they’ve hardly been woeful, but just not getting their due.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog, starting from 5:35pm AEST.
Date: Saturday 20 April
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick Off: 5:35pm AEST
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Shane McDermott
Last five results
Fri, 22 Mar 2019 Highlanders 26-33 Blues – Auckland
Fri, 20 Apr 2018 Highlanders 34-16 Blues – Auckland
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 Highlanders 41-34 Blues – Dunedin
Sat, 08 Apr 2017 Highlanders 26-20 Blues – Dunedin
Sat, 11 Mar 2017 Highlanders 16-12 Blues – Auckland
Highlanders 15, Blues 17
Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman, Tyrel Lomax, Jackson Hemopo, Tom Franklin, Shannon Frizell, James Lentjes, Elliot Dixon, Kayne Hammington, Josh Ioane, Tevita Li, Teihorangi Walden, Patelesio Tomkinson, Matt Faddes, Ben Smith (CC)
Replacements: Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Dickson, Luke Whitelock (CC), Aaron Smith, Bryn Gatland, Thomas Umaga-Jensen.
15 Melani Nanai, 14 Caleb Clarke, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru; 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1. Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Matt Duffie.