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Aussies hope for more in round 2 of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

The Aussies will hope for better results when round two of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman gets underway.

Dane Coles - Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Round 2 Preview
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

With all five New Zealand franchises winning last week, the Aussies will be hoping for a bit more when round 2 of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman gets underway.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

The first week of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman kind of went to script with all five Kiwi sides beating their Australia opponents. However, a lot of these games were a lot tighter than expected with late missed kicks costing the Brumbies and the Force. 

It’s over to this week now! Will New Zealand continue to dominate or will the Australians finally break their duck? Let’s have a look!

Hurricanes v Rebels

Friday 21 May
Westpac Stadium
09:35

To Win (80 Mins)

Hurricanes 1/33
Draw 35/1
Rebels 10/1

Handicap

Hurricanes (-27.5) 9/10
Rebels (+27.5) 9/10

We could be in for a very open game this Friday with the free-flowing Hurricanes taking on the porous Rebels.

The ‘Canes, despite beating the Waratahs 48-64, will be rather disappointed with their showing in the opening round. While they were immaculate with ball in hand, they conceded some really soft tries against Australia’s worst team.

The Rebels will be even more upset with the opening round showing as they were thoroughly outclassed by the Blues who beat them 3-50. The most worrying thing about the Rebels performance was their inability to create any try-scoring opportunities, a theme that they’ve carried over with them from Super Rugby AU.

In team news, the Hurricanes welcome back the deadly Ngani Laumape who comes into the side for Peter Umaga-Jensen. There are also starts for Scott Scrafton and Tyrel Lomax while Obryn Leger and Jonathan Taumateine get into the run-on XV this week. 

The Melbourne franchise welcome back winger Andrew Kellaway following his time with NEC Green Rockets in Japan. Exciting 20-year-old Carter Gordon starts in the 10 jumpers. There are also run-on spots for George Worth and Isi Naisarani. 

Verdict: Hurricanes (-27.5) 9/10

The Rebels are a shambles defensively and toothless on attack. The ‘Canes are tipped to cruise past this handicap at the Cake Tin. 

Western Force v Highlanders

Friday 21 May
nib Stadium
11:45

To Win (80 Mins)

Force 33/10
Draw 28/1
Highlanders 2/9

Handicap

Force (+12.5) 9/10
Highlanders (-12.5) 9/10

The Force will be looking to build on their solid showing against the Chiefs when they take on the Highlanders, who outclassed Super Rugby AU champions in the opening round.

The Force gave a fantastic account of themselves in week one as they went down by just two points to the Chiefs in a rather dogged game. They had the opportunity to claim a win after the hooter with Domingo Miotti missing a tough conversion, leaving the Perth outfit to settle for a losing bonus point.

The Highlanders had a better time of it in week one as they cantered to a 40-19 victory over the Reds. The men from Dunedin looked the real deal last week and they’ll fancy themselves against this Force side.

In team news, the return of Sitaleki Timani has necessitated a few moves in the forward pack. Timani will lock down alongside Jeremy Thrush with Fergus Lee-Warner moving onto the flank. This shifts Tim Anstee to eight with South African-born Brynard Stander dropping to the bench. 

There’s big news in the Highlanders camp with Josh Ione and Shannon Frizell back into the run-on XV. Additionally, Bryn Evans starts at lock with Josh Dickson dropping to the bench.

Verdict: Highlanders (-12.5) 9/10

I think the Highlanders are well-suited to fronting up to this rather physical Force side. My money is on the hosts claiming two big wins from their opening two games.

Blues v Waratahs

Saturday 22 May
Eden Park
06:35

To Win (80 Mins)

Blues 1/100
Draw 30/1
Waratahs 16/1

Handicap

Blues (-34.5) 9/10
Waratahs (+34.5) 9/10

The Blues will be looking to make it two big wins from two starts in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman as they welcome Super Rugby AU whipping boys, the Waratahs, to Eden Park in Saturday’s opener.

Auckland’s finest got their tournament off to a flyer as they hammered the Rebels 3-50. This was the ideal start to their campaign and another big win here would go a long way to putting them in pole position for a berth in the final.

The Waratahs actually did alright in their opener and ran in some great tries against the Hurricanes. They were dreadful on defence, however, and this is likely to cost them against the Blues again this week.

The only change in the Blues’ run on XV is at prop where Ofa Tuungafasi replaces the injured Neop Laulala. There is also space on the bench for the exciting Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens who has made his mark at age-group level.

The ‘Tahs, meanwhile, have included exciting youngster James Turner in their run-on XV. Jack Dempsey is back on the bench after recovering from injury. 

Verdict: Blues (-34.5) 9/10

It was 3 for 50 when stumps were called out at the MCG last week, you can expect another cricket score again this weekend.

Chiefs v Brumbies

Saturday 23 May
FMG Waikato
09:05

To Win (80 Mins)

Chiefs 3/10
Draw 25/1
Brumbies 5/2

Handicap

Chiefs (-7.5) 9/10
Brumbies (+7.5) 9/10

The Chiefs will be looking for a far better showing than they offered in Round 1 when they take on a Brumbies outfit who gave the Crusaders a real run for their money last weekend.

The hosts looked extremely leggy against the Force in their opening fixture, which was to be expected considering how bruising their Super Rugby Aoteaaroa final encounter with the Crusaders was. While they won’t be pleased with their performance, they will still have been happy to come away from Perth with a win under their belts.

Their opponents gave a really solid account of themselves this past weekend and almost held the Crusaders to a draw in Canterbury but Noah Lolesio’s conversion went just wide of the sticks and the Brumbies settled for a bonus point.

Veteran loosie, Liam Messam returns to the starting line up for Pita Gus Sowakula. Front row duo Samisoni Taukei’aho and Sione Mafileo also make the run-on side. The best news, however, must be the inclusion of Atu Moli on the bench. The veteran prop is included after a two-year absence owing to hip and quad injuries. 

The Brumbies will start Lachlan Lonergan in the front row beside his brother Ryan. Tom Cusack and Connal McInerney are both fit enough for the bench this week.  

Verdict: Brumbies (+7.5) 9/10

The Chiefs have done a lot of travelling this week and I think they may well be fatigued again come the latter part of Saturday’s contest. As such, I’m leaning towards the Brumbies on the plus.

Reds v Crusaders

Saturday 22 May
Suncorp Stadium
11:45

To Win (80 Mins)

Reds 33/10
Draw 28/1
Crusaders 2/9

Handicap

Reds (+12.5) 9/10
Crusaders (-12.5) 9/10

We close out the round with a battle of the champions as Super Rugby AU winners, the Reds, play host to Super Rugby Aotearoa champs, the Crusaders.

Both teams got their Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaigns off to rather underwhelming starts with the Crusaders scraping a two-point win over the Brumbies and the Reds going down by 21 points to the Highlanders.

Both teams are likely to be in better touch this week with the hangovers after the final having cleared.

In team news, the Reds welcome back Harry Wilson, Hunter Paisami and Tate McDermott. There are also starts for Fraser McReight, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Taniela Tupou while Sulasi Vunivalu is in the run-on XV.

The ‘Saders welcome back the mercurial duo of Will Jordan and Mitchell Drummond to an already stacked backline. In terms of the forwards, Whetukamokamo Douglas starts at lock with Oliver Jager set to start at tight-head prop. 

Verdict: Reds (+ 12.5) 9/10

I think we’re in for a big performance from the Reds here. They are back home and should give the ‘Saders a run.

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