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2022 Super Rugby Pacific preseason fixtures

Blues vs Hurricanes Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

The countdown to the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season is on with just weeks until the opening round of the competition.

In preparation, every Super Rugby team in Australia and New Zealand will take part in preseason trial matches.

Stay across all the matches, key news and reaction as it comes to hand, below.

Saturday, 29 January

Waratahs 24-14 Brumbies, Bowral

The Waratahs got their tenure under new coach Darren Coleman to the perfect start, downing Super Rugby AU finalists the Brumbies in a 90-minute pre-season trial in Bowral.

Dealing with a constant down pour of rain, the Waratahs made sure to make the most of the three 30-minute thirds. playing 39 players throughout the trial in order to give Coleman a chance to witness most of his squad ahead of the season.

The Brumbies opened the scoring early, with Brumbies scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan capitalising on loose handling from the Waratahs inside their own 22, to scoop up a loose ball and score under the sticks.

Recent Wallabies debutant Lalakai Foketi hit back quickly, barging through his opposite following an impressive scrum inside the Brumbies 22, to bring the scores 7-5 to the Brumbies ahead of the break.

The Waratahs hit the ground running in the second period, outscoring the Brumbies two tries to nil, with Waratahs flyhalf Ben Donaldson scoring an impressive solo try, before wing James Turner used acrobatics to score in the corner and give the Tahs a strong 17-7 lead.

The Brumbies hit back in the third, with replacement scrumhalf Lachy Albert cutting through a gap to dot the ball down to close the gap to 17-14, but Turner iced the game for the Tahs to end the match 24-14.

Coleman was impressed by his side in their first hit out ahead of the season.

"We've spoken a lot about being Tah tough and that's exactly what we were tonight," Coleman said.

"I thought we defended our try-line with passion and vigor, and I couldn't be prouder of the effort the boys put in.

"I'm really pleased for the boys that played all last year without a win to get that winning feeling back."

Sunday, 30 January

Fijian Drua vs. Western Force, Ballina Rugby Club -- Cancelled due to West Australia border restrictions

Friday, 4 Febraury

Chiefs 61-7 Moana Pasifika, Auckland

Moana Pasifika created history by playing their first ever game on Friday night, but the early signs are that they have plenty of room for improvement after a one-sided defeat against the Chiefs.

With the match playing out across three 30-minute periods and both teams using their entire squads, the new club conceded the game's opening try in the 12th minute and didn't get on the scoreboard until 10 minutes from full-time through a Fine Inisi try.

The Chiefs meanwhile showed some class with Jonah Lowe scoring a double and Leni Apisai, Laghlan McWhannell, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bradley Slater, Josh Ioane, Emoni Narawa and Chase Tiatia also grabbing tries.

Highlanders 20-19 Crusaders, Oamuru

The Highlanders welcomed back Folau Fakatava from an ACL injury but may have lost Fetuli Paea to an arm injury in a one-point win over the Crusaders.

The Highlanders led 17-7 at half-time before both teams made significant changes in the second half.

New winger Moses Dawai and hooker Liam Coltman were the tryscorers for the Highlanders, while fullback Sam Gilbert coped well under the high ball in wet conditions. Dallas McLeod and Simon Hickey scored tries for the Crusaders.

Saturday, 5 February

Western Force 42-33 Queensland Reds, Ballymore Stadium

Star playmaker James O'Connor and coach Brad Thorn are in isolation after a second COVID-19 outbreak swept through Queensland Reds camp on the eve of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

Jordan Petaia and Jock Campbell were also missing from Saturday's trial match loss to the Western Force in Brisbane after exhibiting symptoms.

They'll all struggle to feature in next week's last pre-season fixture against the NSW Waratahs in Roma ahead of a February 19 season start.

More than half the squad was missing when pre-season training resumed last month and the latest cases caused havoc to Thorn's plans.

Usually a winger or fullback, Campbell was set start in the No.10 at Ballymore while it was also a chance to experiment with backline sensation Petaia at fullback, where many pundits believe he'll find his feet ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

The Force, who will begin the season based on the east coast because of Western Australia's border limitations, were impressive in a 42-33 win.

Former Reds star Izack Rodda was a looming presence in the first half and winger Toni Pulu scored two early tries.

The Reds hit back with a second-half double to hooker Josh Nasser and led 33-21, before the Force scored the game's last three tries.

Tom Lynagh, the teenage son of former Wallabies great Michael, was confident in his first outing for Queensland since moving from England.

He straightened up the Reds' attack when injected at five-eighth in the second half, involving his backs and kicking with composure in a tantalising performance.

Fringe Wallabies backrowers Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson also looked sharp as they split minutes for the Reds, while former Brumbies playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa was busy in the No.10 for the Force.

Waratahs vs. West Harbour, Hunter Wildfires, Western Sydney Two Blues

The Waratahs continued their preseason preparations in Parramatta, officially opening the new Eric Tweedale Stadium.

Darren Coleman's team marked the occasion by playing three 25-minute matches against the Pirates, Wildfires and Two Blues, triumphing 26-0, 26-5 and 27-0 in what was a solid hit-out for the rebuilding franchise.

Having rested several big names and most of the team's Wallabies, Coleman was able to test the depth in his playing ranks ahead of the team's final trial against the Reds in Roma next weekend.

Hurricanes 21-26 Blues, Wellington

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck enjoyed his first hit-out in a Blues jumper as the Aucklanders escaped a wet and windy Wellington with a five-point victory on Sunday.

Tuivasa-Sheck, who has switched codes from rugby league, got through 61 minutes of action and while he was largely stifled by the trying conditions coach Leon MacDonald was happy with what he saw.

"Roger was busy. He was trying to get into the game and I thought he brought some good energy and carried well at times," MacDonald said.

"He was coming off talking about some scenarios in the game that were a bit foreign or new to him, but it's a good hit-out and I think he'll be better for it."

The Hurricanes started the better and built a 14-0 lead through two converted tries, before the Blues finished the stronger in a match that didn't involve many of either team's All Blacks.

Thursday, February 10

Melbourne Rebels 26-28 Fijian Drua, Melbourne

Fijian Drua have given Melbourne rugby fans a sneak peek of what to expect in the Super Rugby Pacific competition, beating the Rebels 28-26 in a warmup match on Thursday night.

The Drua came from behind in the four-tries apiece thriller at Harlequin Rugby Club in their first and only hit out before taking on the NSW Waratahs in their historic season opener in Parramatta on February 18.

The Fijians opened the scoring inside two minutes through international hooker Tevita Ikanivere and Kiwi five-eighth Baden Kerr converted.

After conceding an intercept try, the Drua retook the lead with winger Kitione Ratu scoring under the posts for 14-7, before Melbourne scored three unanswered tries to take a 24-14 advantage into the final third of the contest.

But the hosts couldn't hang on, Joseva Tamani barged over after strong forward play and winger Vinaya Habosi scored a length of the field try under the sticks to leave Caleb Muntz an easy conversion for the win.

Friday, 11 February

Highlanders vs. Moana Pasifika, Queenstown -- cancelled following COVID outbreak

Saturday, 12 February

Queensland Reds 21-14 Waratahs, Roma -- AAP

The NSW Waratahs showed they'll be a tougher Super Rugby Pacific prospect, while there was a Jordan Petaia sighting at fullback for the Queensland Reds in their trial game in Roma.

The Waratahs leaked points in a historic, winless 2021 season but showed off some bruising, organised defence in a 21-14 win on Saturday night a week out from their season opener against Fijian Drua.

Izaia Perese sent fellow Wallabies backline contender Filipo Daugunu scrambling backwards with a huge hit to set the tone as Australian coach Dave Rennie watched on.

Petaia came on in the second half at fullback, moving Jock Campbell into five-eighth to replace Wallabies No.10 James O'Connor.

The move comes after calls for the prodigious backline talent to spend time in the No.15, with an eye to the 2023 World Cup.

Former Wales centre Jamie Roberts' first outing for the Waratahs was shortlived, the British and Irish Lions star groggy as he limped off ahead of halftime.

Former rugby sevens talent Dylan Pietsch was powerful on the wing for the Waratahs, while Lachie Swinton dominated the middle.

Waratahs five-eighth Ben Donaldson was sharp early, scoring off a neat flick pass from fullback Alex Newsome, who had crossed for the game's first try.

The Reds were sloppy and the penalties piled up, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Dane Zander's yellow cards leaving the Reds two men short for almost 10 minutes late in the first half.

That almost seemed to wake them up though, the hosts not conceding a point while either man was sidelined.

Wilson scored to begin the half, before NSW's replacement No.10 Tane Edmed restored the 14-point buffer.

Young Queensland halfback Spencer Jeans then had the ball knocked out of his hands as he streaked over the line.

He made up for that blooper soon after, darting over to make it 21-14 with 10 minutes to play.

Queensland had their chances in the final minutes but twice the Waratahs turned the ball over close to their line to seal the win.

A city-wide blackout 25 minutes before kick-off almost cancelled the game, with power returning just as officials were considering pulling the pin on the 2,000-plus strong crowd.

Crusaders 24-27 Hurricanes, Christchurch

Just one week before they face the Crusaders in the opening round, the Hurricanes have gained a slight psychological blow, defeating the Crusaders 27-24 in Queenstown in their final pre-season clash on Saturday.

Preparing for a tough season ahead, the Canes will take plenty of confidence out of the win but will be mindful that both camps kept their cards close to their chest ahead of their opening round clash.

Heading into the match without their All Blacks stars, the Canes will have a spring in their step this week after Aiden Morgan scored after the siren to secure a come-from behind, five-tries-to-four win.

The Crusaders controlled large portions of the game in the first half, with All Blacks stars Joe Moody, Scott Barrett, Braydon Ennor and George Bridge reintroduced, while Fergus Burke looked strong in the No.10 jersey, leading the side to a 12-5 lead into the break.

The Canes came out firing in the second though, with No.8 Braydon Iose making his mark and setting up Julian Savea for the first of the Canes' four second-half tries. But the Crusaders continued to maintain their points advantage leading 24-10 into the final quarter.

The final quarter was all Canes, with Billy Proctor crashing over before Peter Umaga-Jensen and Proctor combined to send Morgan diving over for the winner.

Blues 5-14. Chiefs, Blues 19-21 Highlanders, Chiefs 17-7 Highlanders, Te Puke -- Game of three halves

The Chiefs will head into the first round full of confidence after they defeated both the Highlanders and the Blues in the Game of Three Halves trial in Queenstown on Saturday.

Due to a COVID outbreak in the Moana Pasifika camp, the Highlanders final pre-season clash was a late scratching and a game of three halves was pulled together last minute.

The Chiefs looked strong in their opening clash with the Highlanders, winning 14-5. They outmuscled at the contact areas and set-piece, before they opened the scoring through Emoni Narawa after a sharp break from halfback Cortez Ratima.

It was a tight tussle for much of the match, before the Chiefs eventually bullied their way over the line with No.8 Pita Gus Sowakula taking the spoils.

The Highlanders finding the line just once through Scott Gregory who was the standout for his team at inside centre.

Despite a yellow card to Cane in their second match against the Blues, the Chiefs came out on top 17-7.

The understrength Blues couldn't hold back a solid Chiefs side who targeted the breakdown aggressively, while Ioane was impressive during his stint at flyhalf, setting up Jonah Lowe's second try.

The Chiefs scored after just 12 minutes, with Lowe showing his pace down the right hand side, while Tyrone Thompson added to the scoreboard.

The Blues could find the chalk only once through Tanielu Tele'a, while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was relatively quiet at centre.

In the final hitout for the day, the Highlanders toppled the Blues 21-19 with a change up to the Landers side bringing far greater intensity to the game.

The presence of Marino Mikaele-Tu'u at No.8 gave the Highlanders more strength at the breakdown and gave the backs time to look bright. Josh Timu made the most of his time on the park at outside centre, making plenty of breaks, while Vereniki Tikoisolomone showed his finishing skills as his team took a 14-0 lead.

The Blues came back, with flyhalf Stephen Perofeta pulling the strings, leading to tries to Vaiolini Ekuasi, Josh Goodhue and Tane Plumtree, but they chose to turn down a kickable penalty chance to win the game in the final seconds.