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Canes, Blues set for battle for the top

Updated: May 9

Three local matches in Super Rugby Pacific in round 12
Who will be at the top of the Super Rugby points ladder after the Blues host the Hurricanes? PHOTO: SUPER RUGBY

Round 12 of Super Rugby Pacific will likely be the weekend where teams assert themselves on the points table.

The currently-leading Hurricanes could stay at the top or lose their place to the Blues when the two franchises meet at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday (kick-off 4.35pm), one of three all-New Zealand matches this weekend.


The Chiefs have a chance to beat Moana Pasifika on Friday (kick-off 7.05pm) and make third place their own, while the match of the South Island must have the Highlanders thinking they can win against the struggling Crusaders on Saturday (kick-off 7.05pm).

Moana Pasifika vs Chiefs

Friday, 7.05pm, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

The Chiefs will be without Damian McKenzie, who is out with injury and has been vital to the team's success.

Taranaki’s Josh Jacomb will instead wear the No 10 jersey, while lock Josh Lord is set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

All Blacks wing Emoni Narawa has been rested and replaced on the right wing by Liam Coombes-Fabling.

Luke Jacobson returns as captain at openside flanker and Xavier Roe starts at halfback in place of Cortez Ratima, but All Blacks hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho is also back in the front row.

Meanwhile, there has been mass selection changes for coach Tana Umaga and his Moana Pasifika side as they host the Chiefs at Mt Smart.

Ex-Chiefs outside back Lalomilo Lalomilo will make his Moana Pasifika debut. North Harbour halfback Siaosi Nginingini is another potential debutant on the bench.

Semisi Paea shifts into lock, while Alamanda Motuga returns to the field for the first time since Round 1, playing at flanker and joining Miracle Faiilagi.

MOANA PASIFIKA: Danny Toala, Nigel Ah Wong, Pepesana Patafilo, Lalomilo Lalomilo, Neria Fomai, D’Angelo Leuila, Aisea Halo, Lotu Inisi, Alamanda Motuga, Miracle Faiʻilagi, Allan Craig, Semisi Paea, Suetena Asomua, Sama Malolo (capt), Saketi Latu. Reserves: Tomasi Maka, Abraham Pole, Sione Mafileo, Tom Savage, Irie Papuni, Siaosi Nginingini, Otumaka Mausia, Kyren Taumoefolau

CHIEFS: Etene Nanai-Seturo, Liam Coombes-Fabling, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Daniel Rona, Josh Jacomb, Xavier Roe, Wallace Sititi, Luke Jacobson (capt), Simon Parker, Tupou Vaa’i, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Reuben O’Neill, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris; Reserves: Tyrone Thompson, Jared Proffit, Sione Ahio, Hamilton Burr, Kaylum Boshier, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Rameka Poihipi, Gideon Wrampling

Blues vs Hurricanes

Saturday, 4.35pm, Eden Park, Auckland

The Hurricanes will be aiming for back-to-back wins against the Blues in Super Rugby for the first time since June 2019, after their 29-21 victory earlier this season.

However, the Blues have won on the last three meetings at Eden Park.

For the home side, Zarn Sullivan is back from a knee injury and slots in at fullback, but they are without Reiko Ioane, although the midfield duo of AJ Lam and Bryce Heem remains solid.

In the forwards, the handy trio of Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali'i and Akira Ioane fill the loose forward oles. But they will be matched by the Canes combo of  Brayden Iose, Peter Lakai and Brad Shields.

In the midfield, Jordie Barrett will team with Billy Proctor and halfback TJ Perenara is also back in the starting lineup.

BLUES: Zarn Sullivan, Mark Tele’a, AJ Lam, Bryce Heem, Caleb Clarke, Harry Plummer, Taufa Funaki, Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali’i, Akira Ioane, Sam Darry, Patrick Tuipulotu (capt), Marcel Renata, Ricky Riccitelli, Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu’a, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Beehre, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Corey Evans, Cole Forbes

HURRICANES: Ruben Love, Josh Moorby, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Kini Naholo, Brett Cameron, TJ Perenara, Brayden Iose, Peter Lakai, Brad Shields (capt), Isaia Walker-Leawere, Caleb Delany, Tyrel Lomax, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Xavier Numia. Reserves: Raymond Tuputupu, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Pasilio Tosi, Justin Sangster, Devan Flanders, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Richard Judd, Bailyn Sullivan

Highlanders vs Crusaders

Saturday, 7.05pm, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

The Highlanders might think Saturday is their best chance to beat the Crusaders, but the defending champions have won nine of their last 10 matches in Super Rugby against the Highlanders, This includes their last three; their only defeat in that span was a 33-12-33 loss in April 2021.

There was good and bad news for the Highlanders this week. Ethan de Groot returns to captain the Highlanders, but loose forward Billy Harmon is out with an injured hand. Argentine Martin Bogado starts on the wing ahead of Connor Garden-Bachop who suffered a head knock in Tonga and is still completing his HIA protocols.

Cameron Millar has been retained at first-five after a more than capable match in Lautoka.

HIGHLANDERS: Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Tanielu Telea, Jake Te Hiwi, Martin Bogado, Cameron, Folau Fakatava, Nikora Broughton, Sean Withy, Oliver Haig, Fabian Holland, Mitch Dunshea, Jermaine Ainsley, Henry Bell, Ethan de Groot (capt); Reserves: Jack Taylor, Ayden Johnstone, Saula Mau, Will Tucker, Will Stodart, James Arscott, Sam Gilbert, Finn Hurley

CRUSADERS: Johnny McNicholl, Chay Fihaki, Levi Aumua, Dallas McLeod, Sevu Reece, David Havili, Noah Hotham, Christian Lio-Willie, Corey Kellow, Cullen Grace, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett (captain), Fletcher Newell, Codie Taylor, Tamaiti Williams. Reserves: George Bell, George Bower, Owen Franks, Jamie Hannah, Tom Christie, Mitchell Drummond, Rivez Reihana, Macca Springer


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