Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Super Rugby Aotearoa: Blues v Highlanders Preview

Super Rugby Aotearoa: Blues v Highlanders Preview

The Blues will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to Super Rugby Aotearoa when they take on the Highlanders on Saturday the 27th of June. 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Jockeys Ride HorsesLeon Macdonald's Blues will be looking to put on a show for their home faithful when they play host to Aaron Mauger's Highlanders. The men from Auckland have enjoyed a rollicking start to the campaign beating both the Chiefs and Hurricanes.

While the Highlanders have played a game less than their opponents for this weekend, they have also managed to notch up an eye-catching win as they beat the much-fancied Chiefs in Round 1.

Blues v Highlanders
Saturday 27 June
Eden Park

To Win (80 Mins)
Blues 1/4
Draw 25/1
Highlanders 3/1

Blues (-10.5) 9/10
Highlanders (+10.5) 9/10

Leon McDonald will be relishing the challenge of fronting up to his former All Black and Crusaders teammate Aaron Mauger in what will be a very interesting tactical battle.

McDonald has proven himself to be a rather solid thinker and his decision to continue with Beauden Barrett at fullback last week reaped dividends again as the All Black's kicking game from the back was one of the deciding factors in the Blues 12-24 away victory over the Chiefs. Barrett also donned the number 15 jersey during the Blues 30-20 opening-round win over the Hurricanes.

I do think McDonald may pull an ace from his card this week, however, and move Barrett to fly-half. Otere Black - who has started both games at fly-half - struggled somewhat last weekend and was substituted during the final quarter of the game.

What makes the above even more intriguing is that Dan Carter is getting nearer to a return. Perhaps we may see Barrett given the reigns at 10 from the outset and then Carter take over in the second stanza?

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone
The Highlanders will probably have been a bit peeved that they had a bye week in Round 2 as they would have liked to have built on from the moment they would have gained from their dramatic late victory over the Chiefs in Round 1.

This weekend's visitors had been given little chance by all and sundry to beat the Chiefs but a late drop goal from Bryn Gatland saw them to a 28-27 victory. The Blues will pose a much tougher test for the 'Landers, however, as they are a side in red-hot form.

The big threat to the Highlanders is likely to come from the Blues mid-field. TJ Faine and Rieko Ioane are starting to gel really nicely and you can bet these two men will target the Highlanders 10/12 channel.

Verdict: Blues (-10.5) 9/10
The Highlanders will put up a fight in the first half but I can see the Blues running away with it in the final quarter due to their superior firepower coming off the bench.

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