Round 4 of Super Rugby Aotearoa is upon us and the matches this week see the Hurricanes hosting the Chiefs in Wellington and the Blues taking on the Crusaders in an almighty clash in Auckland. This means the Highlanders have the week off.
Here is a look at the two games in Round 4:
Crusaders vs. Chiefs
Saturday, March 20 – Sky Stadium, Wellington
It is a battle of winless teams in Wellington as the Hurricanes and Chiefs both sit on two defeats from their first two games. The Chiefs’ winless run dates back right to the beginning of Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020, while the Hurricanes have been a disappointment this year in part because they haven’t yet found an answer in their No. 10 jersey – especially with Jackson Garden-Bachop out for several weeks.
That role will be played this week by Orbyn Leger as he makes his Hurricanes debut – against his former team no less – alongside Like Campbell at scrum-half who is making his run-on debut. To say that this is an untested pairing in the halves would be being kind.
The Chiefs are also set for a change at fly-half. Bryn Gatland – who has looked useful in the two-games so far – drops out of the 23 and is replaced in the starting lineup by Kaleb Trask after his return to fitness.
Obviously, neither side has any form to speak of. I just have a feeling this will be the week the Chiefs break their duck, so take them at 1.45 with BetXChange.
Blues vs. Crusaders
Sunday, March 21 – Eden Park, Auckland
The best game of the weekend in all of the Super Rugby combinations will be in Auckland where the Blues – who have won two from two – take on the mighty Crusaders – who have won three from three. That both sides won their games last week by scores of 39-17 only adds to the drama of the proceedings on the North Island.
Blake Gibson returns from a rib injury at the perfect time for the Blues. He will be needed at the openside flanker spot with Dalton Papalii and Dillon Hunt both sidelines with head/concussion issues. The combination of Gibson alongside wrecking balls Hoskins Sotutu and Akira Ioane – along with Tom Robinson providing might cover off of the bench – gives the Blues the power they look for in their pack.
The main piece of team news for the Crusaders is the George Bridge – an All Black superstar – is finally available after spending five months recovering from a ruptured pectoral muscle. It is likely that Bridge will make his way back more slowly through the development side – especially given the Crusaders’ riches in the back three – but Bridge does have an outside chance of being named on the bench as he is one of the best tackling wingers in the country to go along with his obvious attacking talent and intent.
The Crusaders are the smart choice here – the Crusaders are always the smart choice – but the Blues present them with by far their biggest challenge of the season, especially in Auckland. Take a flyer on the home side as a shot to nothing type bet given their price at 1.20.