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Super Rugby Pacific: 5 Key Battles

Super Rugby goes into the 10th round this week and after a host of byes over the last few weeks, the competition is back to its full complement.

Rieko Ioane

Super Rugby goes into the 10th round this week and after a host of byes over the last few weeks, the competition is back to its full complement. It is also the significant Culture Round which celebrates the melting pot of cultures in the competition. Bet Central looks at where the Culture Round clashes could be lost and won.

Hurricanes v Brumbies: Form Against Experience

There is the burgeoning talent of Cam Roigard on the one side and the assured presence of one of the best scrum halves in the business on the other – Nic White. That is the luxury both the Hurricanes and Brumbies have at 9 this week.

It remains to be seen whether the tactical nous of the Wallaby incumbent no.9 will outshine the youthful vigour of the All-Black hopeful. Roigard, despite his youth, has arguably been the finest scrumhalf in Super Rugby this year.

It will be up to White to thwart all of that and remind the younger scrumhalf why he is so accomplished. There is every chance that this epic clash will be decided by which halfback has a better game in the first clash of the Cultural Round.

Waratahs v Highlanders: Captains Seek Influence

After 2 demoralising losses last week, both the Waratahs and Highlanders will be looking to get their campaigns back on track in this clash, coming in the week of Anzac Day, both teams will be fuelled by the emotion of their annual commemoration as neighbouring countries.

The 2nd Australia-New Zealand derby of the weekend will see some influential figures return on both sides with both Michael Hooper and Lalakai Foketi returning for Waratahs after an obligatory rest week in line with Wallabies load management. Similarly, All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith and Folau Fakatava return to the matchday squad for Highlanders.

It’s the captains battling out that will make for interesting viewing as Jake Gordon lines up all-time great Aaron Smith in what should be a terrific dual as both look to control and lead their sides.

Moana Pasifika v Rebels: Bustling Wide Men

Moana Pasifika may be bottom of the table and without a win to their name, but the Rebels sit just above them on the table with 2 wins to their name. Pasifika will fancy their chances against fellow strugglers, the Rebels.

The Culture Round should also be a huge motivation for the most culturally diverse team in the competition. For the Rebels, it will be a tough task taking on Moana, but there has been slight improvement over the past few weeks and they will look to build on that.

Monty Ioane has proved an inspired signing for the Rebels over the season despite their struggles adding his power and silky skills to the mix, he faces a very big challenge when he directly marks Timoci Tavatavanawai who is a rampaging bull at times. It should be an epic showdown between the 2.

Blues v Fijian Drua: Running It From The Back

Both Zarn Sullivan and Ilaisa Droasese scored sensational tries last week in their respective match. For Sullivan it was from the bench and for Drua’s Droasese, it came while he was deployed on the right wing

This week both will don the 15 jerseys for their teams and will look to display their impeccable running ability. The Blues’ Sullivan is an elusive and slippery customer and Drua will have to be wary of his feet.

Droasese is a bit different in that he is more of a power runner who can break through tackles. Both teams will be banking on their fullbacks coming into the game effectively to give them an edge.

Chiefs v Crusaders: Blindside Bruisers

The clash of the weekend bar none, the current champions going up against the team currently enjoying an unbeaten season makes for a mouth-watering clash and the crowd at FMG Stadium in Hamilton will bear witness to the epic game.

The teams are so evenly matched across the park, it is hard to separate them. Both sides have young promising blindside flankers in Samipeni Finau and Dom Gardiner and neither will want to give an inch in their battle for supremacy.

Gardiner is a bigger presence in the set-piece as he is an excellent jumper and adds his considerable bulk in the scrum, but Finau is the more athletic of the 2 and could be an important factor when the game opens up in the latter stages. Either way both will have an influence in how this clash plays out.

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