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SR Preview – Blues v Highlanders

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The other all New Zealand clash this weekend is the Blues that will host the Highlanders.

As with most New Zealand derbies we expect another great eighty minutes of rugby when these two teams clash on Saturday morning. The Highlanders will be desperate for a win after losing their opening two matches so far with the Blues to also recover from the huge lost against the Chiefs last week.

The importance of the result can be seen with the Blues naming six All Blacks in the starting XV for the Highlanders match

Parsons and Kaino has been named in the starting lineup which also sees starts for Faumuina and Tuipulotu. We also see Taramai making his Super Rugby debut at number eight on Saturday. Ioane will provide cover from the bench.

In the backs Moala comes in at inside centre and Ranger move to the wing with Francis and Nanai going to the bench.

Parsons will captain the side in his return after suffering from concussion, he completed 40 minutes of action for the Blues Development side last weekend.

Umaga revealed the team has welcomed back their All Blacks who are now ready for starting action.

Jerome and Patrick had delayed starts while Charlie has worked his way to excellent form, and both George and Rene impressed when they came on last week against the Chiefs,” Umaga said.

There’s good depth in this squad and so there is going to be times when strong players won’t get starts always.”

For the Highlanders Whitelock and Banks returns from injury to take their place in the team this weekend.

The Highlanders have however lost Squire and Lentjes to injury and Evans will start the match at number six for the Highlanders. Elliot Dixon lead the team from the openside and Whitelock will complete the new look back row at number eight.

Head Coach, Tony Brown, has named a forward-heavy bench with six in the reserves including Aki Seiuli at prop and locks, Jackson Hemopo and Joe Wheeler.

Dillon Hunt will cover the loose forwards and make his Super Rugby debut should he take the field. Kayne Hammington and Marty Banks will provide the back cover from the bench.

Head to Head

Games Blues wins Draws Highlanders wins Blues points Highlanders points
Overall: 27 16 0 11 718 601
At home: 14 11 0 3 424 303
Average points scored per game 48.85

Previous Results between these two teams:

2010-02-19 Highlanders Blues 15 – 19 Blues
2011-04-29 Highlanders Blues 10 – 15 Blues
2011-06-17 Blues Highlanders 33 – 16 Blues
2012-04-20 Highlanders Blues 30 – 27 Highlanders
2012-05-26 Blues Highlanders 20 – 27 Highlanders
2013-04-05 Blues Highlanders 29 – 18 Blues
2013-06-01 Highlanders Blues 38 – 28 Highlanders
2014-02-22 Highlanders Blues 29 – 21 Highlanders
2014-03-29 Blues Highlanders 30 – 12 Blues
2015-04-18 Highlanders Blues 30 – 24 Highlanders
2015-06-12 Blues Highlanders 7 – 44 Highlanders
2016-02-26 Blues Highlanders 33 – 31 Blues

Prediction: If one has to go on what we saw in the last two weeks then both sides are evenly match. I give it to the Blues just for the strong finish last week and because they are at home by 9 points

Teams:

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 George Moala, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Murphy Taramai, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Akira Ioane/Kara Pryor, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Melani Nanai

The Highlanders: 15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Elliot Dixon(c), 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

Replacemets: 16 Sekonia Pole, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Dillon Hunt, 22 Kayne Hammington, 23 Marty Banks

PosTeamPWLDPFPAPDBPPts
119142358430028400
219136052439013400
333001493711200
41813415104209000
553111841018300
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