Round 10 of Super Rugby Aotearoa is upon us and the matches this week see the Hurricanes host the Highlanders and the Blues welcoming the Chiefs. There is nothing to play for this weekend with the Finals already set, but with Super Rugby Trans Tasman just around the corner, there will be sides looking for a momentum boost entering that competition.
Here is a look at the two games in Round 10:
Hurricanes vs. Highlanders
Friday, April 30 – Sky Stadium, Wellington
The ‘Canes and the ‘Landers have nothing to play for but pride here in this dead rubber game. The Hurricanes have lost three on the bounce and are guaranteed the wooden spoon here as not even a bonus-point win would drag them from the bottom of the standings. The Highlanders could finish third if the result in the other game goes their way – though fourth is more likely – but both squads will be looking for improved performances when trans-Tasman kicks off next month.
The visitors have good news and bad, with outside back Sam Gilbert back in the frame and No. 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, unfortunately, sidelined for the entire trans-Tasman comp with a broken leg. The treatment room in Dunedin is full, with the likes of Folau Fakatava (knee), Connor Garden-Bachop (wrist), and Liam Squire already out for the campaign. The Hurricanes’ major change is bringing back Julian Savea on the wing in their rotation policy ahead of Wes Goosen.
The Highlanders haven’t lost a game in 80 minutes since these Hurricanes beat them in Round 5 (their only defeat in that stretch was to the Chiefs in extra time). I like them to come out and win this one straight up at 1.35 with BetXChange in a contest that should be fun, open, and high scoring as neither squad should have any level of conservatism in their game.
Blues vs. Chiefs
Saturday, May 1 – Eden Park, Auckland
This game should have meant much more than it does as the Blues saw their Finals chances fall by the wayside last weekend as they were unable to smuggle a bonus point off of the Crusaders. This gives the Chiefs a five-point lead – and a most wins tiebreaker – over the Auckland side, so there is no way for them to be run down.
The Chiefs will be giving a shocking 180th appearance to Liam Messam after he answered an SOS call from coach Clayton McMillan due to injuries. He will appear off of the bench having last played for the club in 2018. Players like Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown, and Brad Weber are all rested, giving the opportunity for six players to make debuts with four coming off of the bench. The Blue start Finlay Christie at scrum-half and have a debuting Zarn Sullivan at fullback as they search for the form that has eluded them of late.
The Chiefs may have won the war but the Blues will win this battle given the side that the visitors have put out to try to preserve their best players for the Grand Final next weekend. Expect the Blues to win this, but that line of 15.5 is huge. There are Chiefs playing for a place in the Grand Final side, so I like them to cover at +15.5 with BetXChange.