Round 2 of Super Rugby Pacific in 2023 is the Magic Round, with all games coming from AAMI Park in Melbourne. This is a great occasion for all rugby fans to enjoy, but the problem with this round in 2023 is that none of the games are expected to be particularly close.
Here is a look at those games with odds from BetXchange.
Crusaders VS Highlanders – AAMI Park, Melbourne
The only match between two New Zealand sides taking place across the Tasman sees the Crusaders face the Highlanders. This is a huge game – especially for the Crusaders – with both teams losing their home openers in Round 1.
The Crusaders were surprised by the Chiefs 31-10, lacking their usual efficiency, making them the standard bearers in this comp for the best part of a decade. They will be happy to see the talismanic Sam Whitelock return, hoping he can boost a less-than-effective pack in Round 1.
The Highlanders were miles off it in the opening round as they were smashed 60-20 by the rampant Blues. They make nine changes – not helped by having ten players out injured – with only prop Jermaine Ainsley retaining his jersey as a forward in the starting XV. It is all change in the halves, with Kamara Hauiti-Parapara and Freddie Burns starting.
The line is 18.5 I would still take the Crusaders even if it were at 25. It is going to be a long season for the Highlanders.
Rebels VS Hurricanes – AAMI Park, Melbourne
The only home side in Round Two is the Rebels as they face the Hurricanes. The Rebels went down 34-27 in spirited fashion against the Force in Perth in Round 1, while the Hurricanes stopped the Reds 47-13 in Townsville.
The ‘Canes have generally kept the same team, with a couple of changes in their pack, including the introduction to the starting XV of All-Black Tyrel Lomax. Expect plenty of impact from explosive back row pair Du’Plessis Kirifi and Ardie Savea.
Playing at home makes the Rebels a different animal, and they will need their stars to play well to have any chance here. I don’t think they will have enough. Take the ‘Canes and the points.
Blues VS Brumbies – AAMI Park, Melbourne
The Blues were the most impressive team in the comp in Round One. Sure, the Highlanders are not a good team in 2023 – they lack star power and direction and stand out among a group of New Zealand sides that have both those things in spades – but scoring 60 points in a professional rugby match shows how clinical the Blues were out of the gate.
The Brumbies were also impressive in Round One as they took a win home from Sydney by edging the Waratahs. Those two and the Reds figure to be the best three teams in Australia, so getting an away win early sets the Brumbies up for success.
This match is a semi-final repeat, a game the Blues won 20-19 at Eden Park to book their final place. The Blues have also won 14 in a row in the regular season, and nothing I saw last week would lead me to think they don’t make it 15 on the bounce here. Take the Blues to win by 14 or so.