The mouth-watering all-Kiwi clash between the Hurricanes and Crusaders headlines Round 12 of Super Rugby. Check out all the team news, odds, team lists and tips here.
Friday, May 12
Blues ($1.07) v Cheetahs ($8.50), Eden Park, Auckland at 5:35PM (AEST)
Key stat (Opta Stats) The Cheetahs have won three of their last five games against the Blues after having never beaten them in five games between 1997 and 2009.
Blues: Pauliasi Manu, James Parsons (c), Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Scrafton, Steven Luatua, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane; Augustine Pulu, Piers Francis, Rieko Ioane, TJ Faiane, George Moala, Declan O'Donnell, Melani Nanai Replacements: Hame Faiva, Alex Hodgman, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Ihaia West, Michael Collins.
Cheetahs: Charles Marias, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tom Botha, Carl Wegner, Francois Uys, Niell Jordaan, Oupa Mohoje, Henco Venter, Tian Meyer, Fred Zeilinga, Raymond Rhule, William Small-Smith, Francois Venter (captain), Sergeal Petersen, Clayton Blommetjies Reserves: Elandré Huggett, Ox Nche, Johan Coetzee, Armandt Koster, Uzair Cassiem, Shaun Venter, Niel Marais, Clinton Swart
Patrick Tuipulotu makes his return from injury for the Blues, and comes into the starting line-up with Gerard Cowley-Tuioti moving to the bench. Melani Nanai returns to the starting line-up at fullback with Declan O'Donnell to make his Blues debut on the right wing. TJ Faiane makes his second start in the midfield in place of Sonny-Bill Williams, who has not fully recovered from his concussion injury against the Waratahs. The Blues also welcome back a raft of players from injury who get their chance off the reserves' bench, including prop Alex Hodgman, Kara Pryor, Ihaia West and halfback Sam Nock. Hame Faiva replaces an injured Matt Moulds.
The Cheetahs team sees Charles Marais and Ox Nche swap places, with Marais starting as loosehead prop and Nche providing cover on the bench. Paul Schoeman has been side-lined due to an injury. Niell Jordaan will be wearing the number six jersey. Clinton Swart is new to the bench
UBET verdict: The Blues haven't lost to a non- New Zealand team in almost a year, and that stat looks unlikely to change against the Cheetahs in Auckland on Friday night. UBET punters also expect the Blues to cover a line of -20.5 points.
Tips: Greg Growden - Blues Sam Bruce - Blues
Brumbies ($2.75) v Lions ($1.45), GIO Stadium, Canberra, 7.40PM (AEST)
Key stat (Opta Stats) The Brumbies enter this fixture on the back of three straight defeats, the last time they lost more in a row was a four-game stint in 2011 of which the fourth game was a 29-20 loss to the Lions.
Brumbies: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, James Dargaville, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jordan Smiler, Jarrad Butler, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Ben Alexander, Reserves: Robbie Abel, Nic Mayhew, Leslie Lealua-iali'i-Makin, Blake Enever, Ben Hyne, Dewet Roos, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Tom Banks.
Lions: Andries Coetzee, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Courtnal Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (captain), Ruan Ackermann, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Johannes Jonker, Robbie Coetzee, Corne Fourie Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Dreyer, Lourens Erasmus, Robert Kruger/Cyle Brink, Dillon Smit, Jacques Nel, Antony Volmink.
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has made five changes to his team, with Ben Alexander, Jarrad Butler, Jordan Smiler, Kyle Godwin and Aidan Toua returning to the line-up. Godwin returns from the hand injury suffered in the thrashing of the Reds to re-form what was becoming a burgeoning partnership with Tevita Kuridrani. Toua is recalled in place of fullback Tom Banks, who steps down to the bench, one of three back options amongst the replacements alongside scrum-half De Wet Roos and utility back Jordan Jackson-Hope. Alexander claims his 139th Brumbies cap in the front-row while Smiler and Butler pack down alongside Scott Fardy in a mobile and physical back-row combination.
The Lions have made five changes to their starting side, with a new front-row in Corné Fourie, Robbie Coetzee and Johannes Jonker, while Andries Ferreira and Ruan Ackermann replace Lourens Erasmus and Cyle Brink respectively in the second-row. A decision on the cover at flank on the bench will be taken later in the week. Justin Ackerman will be joining the squad in Australia to provide back-up for the injured Hencus van Wyk.
UBET verdict: While the Brumbies have beaten the Lions at three of their last four meetings, and while the Lions have won five of their six 'away' games, they will be looking for a win to cement themselves in the finals. The Brumbies are priced as though they can win, but the early push has been with the Lions.
Tips: Greg Growden - Brumbies Sam Bruce - Lions
Saturday May 13
Crusaders ($1.80) v Hurricanes ($2.00), AMI Stadium, Christchurch at 5.35PM (AEST)
Key stat (Opta Stats) The Crusaders have won 11 of their last 12 games at home by an average margin of 27 points per game; however, their only loss in that span came against the Hurricanes in Round 17 last season.
Crusaders: Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Luke Romano, Scott Barrett, Pete Samu, Matt Todd (C), Jordan Taufua, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo'unga, George Bridge, Tim Bateman, Jack Goodhue, Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody, Michael Alaalatoa, Quinten Strange, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Bryn Hall, Mitchell Hunt, Ryan Crotty
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Reed Prinsep, Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli; Chris Eves Reserves: Leni Apisai, Ben May, Loni Uhila, Sam Lousi, Toa Halafihi, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Wes Goosen
The Crusaders have made four changes to the starting fifteen. Wyatt Crockett wears the number 1 jersey this week with Joe Moody providing cover off the bench. Lock Luke Romano comes into the starting line up to pair up with Scott Barrett, while Quinten Strange comes into the reserves. The loose forward trio will be made up of Pete Samu, Matt Todd and Jordan Taufua, with Heiden Bedwell-Curtis coming into the 23 to provide cover. In the backs, Mitchell Drummond rotates with Bryn Hall to start at halfback this week, and Tim Bateman comes in at second five with Ryan Crotty taking a spot on the bench.
Loose forward Reed Prinsep has been called up to the Hurricanes starting side at blindside, with Brad Shields shifting to No.8 for the first time this season. Loose head prop Chris Eves switched roles with Ben May, who takes his place among the reserves. Ardie Savea returns to openside in a new look loose trio. There are three personnel changes in the reserves; Loni Uhila returns after an eight week absence, Mike Kainga drops out of the match day 23 and lock Sam Lousi returns in place of James Blackwell. Wes Goosen takes over from Ben Lam as the outside back cover. Loose forward Toa Halafihi comes into the squad for Callum Gibbins who was unavailable for selection after injuring his shoulder against the Stormers.
UBET verdict: Possibly the game of the season. The Canes have won four of their last five matches against the Crusaders including two of three in Christchurch. However the Crusaders are yet to taste defeat this season. Both sides can score quickly, the Crusaders have averaged 40 points this year and the Canes 45, and both teams concede 19 points on average. Should be a blockbuster
Tips: Greg Growden - Hurricanes Sam Bruce - Crusaders
Melbourne Rebels ($2.50) v Queensland Reds ($1.53), AAMI Park, Melbourne at 7:40PM (AEST)
Key stat (Opta Stats) Each of the Rebels' last eight games at home against Australian opposition have been decided by a margin of eight points or fewer, with four wins going to the Rebels in that span.
Rebels: Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu, Tom English, Mitch Inman, Marika Koroibete, Ben Volavola, Ben Meehan, Amanaki Mafi, Colby Fainga'a (captain), Hugh Sinclair, Dominic Day, Steve Cummins, Laurie Weeks, James Hanson, Toby Smith Reserves Siliva Siliva, Fereti Sa'aga, Tyrel Lomax, Culum Retallick, Sean McMahon, Harrison Goddard, Will Miller, Jack Maddocks.
Reds: Sef Fa'agase, Stephen Moore, Sam Talakai, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Hendrik Tui, George Smith, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Eto Nabuli, Duncan Paia'aua, Samu Kerevi (C), Campbell Magnay, Karmichael Hunt Reserves: Alex Mafi, Kirwan Sanday, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Adam Korczyk, Moses Sorovi, Hamish Stewart, Izaia Perese
Sean McMahon makes his seasonal debut for the Rebels, on the bench, having missed 11 rounds after a knee strain during rehabilitation delayed his return from an ankle injury sustained during The Rugby Championship last year. Colby Fainga'a also returns after he was a late withdrawal against the Lions last weekend with a thigh injury picked up during the pre-game warm-up.
The Reds make a number of changes, with Karmichael Hunt's return from a knee injury prompting a shuffle in the backline. Duncan Paia'aua shifts back to inside centre and captain Samu Kerevi to outside centre. Scrumhalf Nick Frisby also returns to the starting side in place of James Tuttle, with Moses Sorovi brought into the 23 as reserve scrumhalf. The only other change sees Campbell Magnay earn a start on the wing ahead of Izaia Perese, who has moved to the reserves. Loose forward Adam Korczyk has also been brought back into the match-day 23 for the first time in three weeks, taking the place of Leroy Houston in the reserves.
UBET verdict: Rebels have won three of the last four games against the Reds, but by the time this match is played the Rebels might know if they will still be around next season or not. The Reds have now lost 13 on the trot away from home, last 'away' win was almost two years ago! Hard to know what will happen here, early shoppers have been happy to be on the Rebels,
Tips: Greg Growden - Reds Sam Bruce - Reds
Bulls ($4.25) v Highlanders ($1.22), Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria at 5:35PM (AEST)
Key stat (Opta Stats) The Highlanders have won four of their last six games against the Bulls, though the last time they beat them by more than seven points was in Round 7, 2009.
Bulls: Warrick Gelant, Jade Stighling, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Tian Schoeman, Piet van Zyl, Hanro Liebenberg (captain), Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman, Coenraad van Vuuren, Lood de Jager, Nick de Jager, Rudy Paige, Tony Jantjies, Jan Serfontein.
Highlanders: Matt Faddes, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Richard Buckman, Patrick Osborne, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith, Gareth Evans, Dillon Hunt, Elliot Dixon, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Ash Dixon (captain), Aki Seiuli Reserves Greg Pleasants-Tate, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Joe Wheeler, Jackson Hemopo, Kayne Hammington, Fletcher Smith, Teihorangi Walden.
The Bulls have made seven changes to the starting side, 11 to the match 23, aafter their 62-24 loss to the Crusaders last weekend. Hanro Liebenberg becomes the 19th Bulls captain - and the youngest in history at the age of 20 - to lead the side since the competition started, after Adriaan Strauss was ruled out with a foot injury. Liebenberg withdrew from the side to face the Crusaders with a hamstring strain but returns in the place of Renaldo Bothma. Jade Stighling and Jannes Kirsten replace injured Travis Ismaiel and Jacques Potgieter, while Jaco Visagie at hooker, Lizo Gqoboka at loosehead prop, R.G. Snyman at lock and Ruan Steenkamp at openside flank are other changes in the pack.
A training injury to Luke Whitelock has forced another reshuffle to the Highlanders' loose forward trio. Having lost Liam Squire last week, head coach Tony Brown has named versatile Gareth Evans at number eight. Aki Seiuli, meanwhile, earns a start alongside Ash Dixon and Alex Ainley in the front row, with the hooker captain in his first start of the season as Liam Coltman takes a break. Richard Buckman returns from injury to take his place in the midfield.
UBET verdict: The Highlanders are on a six-game winning streak, and while the Bulls have won three from four at home this season, they were belittled 62-24 by the Crusaders at home last week. The Highlanders are well in the mix to win the title now and the market expectation is that the Highlanders will win by at least the 11.5 point line.
Tip: Greg Growden - Highlanders Sam Bruce - Highlanders
Kings ($5.00) v Sharks ($1.17), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth 1:15AM (AEST)
Key stat (Opta Stats) The Sharks have won all five previous meetings between these teams, winning by an average margin of 29 points per game.
Kings: Maxisole Banda, Wandile Mjekevu, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Cronje (captain), Louis Schreuder, Andisa Ntsila, Tyler Paul, Chris Cloete, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Irne Herbst, Ross Geldenhuys, Martin Bezuidenhout, Schalk van der Merwe. Reserves: Kurt Haupt/Tanga Balekile, Chris Heiberg, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Stefan Willemse, Johan Steyn, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Nicolaas Hanekom.
Sharks: Rhyno Smith , Kobus van Wyk Lukhanyo Am, Jeremy Ward, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie (captain), Michael Claassens, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha, Etienne Oosthuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Franco Marais, Tendai Mtawarira Reserves: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit, Lourens Adriaanse, Stephan Lewies, Tera Mtembu, Cobus Reinach, Garth April, S'busiso Nkosi.
The Kings have made just one change to the team that humbled the Rebels last time out, with Schalk van der Merwe returning at loosehead prop for Justin Forwood, who is out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
Pat Lambie returns to start his first game for the Sharks since round three, with Curwin Bosch unavailable for selection having joined the Junior Boks team preparing for the Junior World Championships in Georgia. Garth April is back in the matchday 23 as the back-up flyhalf. There are other significant changes to the side that beat the Force, most notably in the front row. Beast Mtawarira starts after playing off the bench last week, Coenie Oosthuizen plays at tighthead and Franco Marais is back as starting hooker.
UBET verdict: The Kings have run into some form, and only narrowly lost to the Sharks (2 points) back in round 4. That says the Kings have some hope, but are outsiders in this match. Oddly enough UBET punters have been keen on Sharks at -13.5 points, but our rugby analysts think that the Kings can get within that handicap.
Tips: Greg Growden - Kings Sam Bruce - Sharks
Sunday May 14
Jaguares ($1.20) v Western Force ($4.50), Estadio Jose Amalfitani Park, Buenos Aires at 7.40AM (AEST)
Key stat (Opta Stats) The Force have won just one of their last 14 games outside Australia, with that win coming against the Sunwolves in Round 11 last season.
Jaguares: Joaquín Tuculet, Santiago Cordero, Matias Orlando, Jerónimo de la Fuente, Batista Ezcurra, Juan Martín Hernández, Martín Landajo, Benjamin Macome, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Tomás Lezana, Matías Alemanno, Guido Petti, Ramiro Herrera, Agustín Creevy (captain), Santiago Garcia Botta Reserves: Julían Montoya, Lucas Noguera Paz, Felipe Arregui, Tomás Lavanini, Leonardo Senatore, Gonzalo Bertranou, Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, Manuel Montero.
Force: Francios van Wyk, Heath Tessmann (C), Tetera Faulkner, Richie Arnold, Adam Coleman, Ross Haylett-Petty, Onehunga Havili, Richard Hardwick, Ian Prior, Jono Lance, Alex Newsome, Billy Meakes, Curtis Rona, Semisi Masirewa, Peter Grant Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Pek Cowan, Shambeckler Vui, Lewis Carmichael, Brynard Stander, Isireli Naisarani, Mitchell Short, James Verity-Amm
Jaguares head coach Raúl Pérez made seven changes to his side, with Martín Landajo most notably making his first start of the year, alongside Juan Martín Hernández in the halves. Two more changes to the back division come at inside centre and on the left wing, with the return of Jerónimo de la Fuente and Batista Ezcurra. Juan Manuel Leguizamón starts in the seven shirt, with Leonardo Senatore dropping to the bench as Benjamin Macome gets a run at No 8. Matías Alemanno comes into the second row to take the place of Marcos Kremer, who drops out of the matchday 23 as Tomás Lavanini comes onto the bench.
The Force made several rotational changes to the match day 23 that will take on the Jaguares. Loosehead prop Francois van Wyk moves into the starting lineup, while club captain Heath Tessmann starts at hooker. Adam Coleman and Richie Arnold start in the second row together. Ross Haylett-Petty moves to the blindside flanker position, Onehunga Havili will make his run-on debut at openside flanker and Richard Hardwick rounds out the forward pack changes in the No. 8 jersey. Semisi Masirewa comes in for his first game of the season and veteran Peter Grant slots into fullback for his first start of 2017. Anaru Rangi is the only new face on the bench, set to come on for his second match of the season at reserve hooker.
UBET verdict: The Jaguares are a much better side at home (four wins from five games), and the Force have not been able to win away from home for over a year, losing eight matches in a row away from Perth. If that isn't bad enough, the Force have only been able to average 15 points in 'away' games this season, and that would explain why punters have been eager to take -12.5 points for the Jaguares.
Tips: Greg Growden - Jaguares Sam Bruce - Jaguares