Round 9 of Super Rugby Pacific is already underway, with the Hurricanes having run riot against Moana Pasifika on Tuesday night.
But there is still plenty more action to come, highlighted by the huge clash between the Crusaders and Blues, with both teams having suffered just the one loss.
Stay across all the line-ups, team news and odds for Round 9 as they come to hand below.
Friday, April 8
Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall; Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Zach Gallagher, Scott Barrett, Oliver Jager, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Replacements: Ricky Jackson, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Dominic Gardiner, Pablo Matera, Mitchell Drummond, Fergus Burke, George Bridge.
Blues: Stephen Perofeta, AJ Lam, Rieko Ioane, Bryce Heem, Mark Telea, Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie; Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papalii (c), Tom Robinson, Josh Goodhue, Luke Romano, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman. Replacements: Ricky Riccitelli, Jordan Lay, Nepo Laulala, James Tucker, Adrian Choat, Taufua Funaki, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Zarn Sullivan/Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.
Odds [tab.com.au]: Crusaders $1.48, -4.5 $1.85; Blues $2.55, +4.5 $1.95 [odds correct as of 11am 14/4]
Verdict: The game of the season to date, and many people's pick for the eventual competition decider. This clash between the Crusaders and Blues is pivotal because of the closeness of the ladder and, in the Blues' case, it has the ability to instill huge self-belief. There is no hiding from the fact the Aucklanders have not won in Christchurch since 2004. That is a long time between drinks. But they head to the Garden City this week perhaps better equipped than ever to end that run, having produced an almighty defensive performance to shut out the Chiefs last week. They also have multiple attacking weapons, who all showed their class in Hamilton last Saturday. The occasion won't be lost on the Crusaders, though, either. Scott Robertson's side only just snuck home over the Hurricanes last week and are still hunting that one complete performance that has been the hallmark of their title dominance since 2016. The big question will be how much last week's sensational effort sucked out of the Blues, if they are slow out of the blocks in Christchurch then an already difficult assignment will be that much tougher. Crusaders in golden point.
Rebels: Reece Hodge, George Worth, Andrew Kellaway, Stacey Ili, Glen Vaihu, Matt To'omua, James Tuttle; Tamati Ioane, Richard Hardwick, Michael Wells, Josh Hill, Matt Philip, Cabous Eloff, James Hanson, Matt Gibbon. Replacements: Efi Ma'afu, Cameron Orr, Rhys Van Nek, Josh Canham, Brad Wilkin, Sam Wallis, Joe Powell, Carter Gordon
Reds: Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivalu, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O'Connor, Tate McDermott; Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Connor Vest, Angus Blyth, Ryan Smith, Zane Nonggorr, Richie Asiata, Feao Fotuaika. Replacements: Matt Faessler, Harry Hoopert, Taniela Tupou, Lepti Faifau, Angus Scott-Young, Kalani Thomas, Josh Flook, Lawson Creighton.
Odds: [tab.com.au] Rebels $3.60, +8.5 $1.95; Reds $1.27, -8.5 $1.85 [odds correct as of 11am 14/4]
Verdict: It's taken half the competition, but at long last Wallabies hopeful Suliasi Vunivalu is fit to play his first game of the season. After so much trouble with his hamstrings, it is pleasing to see Vunivalu back in action with the code-hopper really only scratching the surface of his talents last year. After enjoying the bye last week, this looks like a game the Reds could really run riot in. Coach Brad Thorn has named arguably his strongest backline yet, and then has the bonus of introducing Taniela Tupou, the returning Angus Scott-Young and rising Josh Flook off the bench. It's true, the Rebels have won their last two, showing signs of a midseason revival, but they will need to go up another level here to mix it with the Reds. Matt To'omua will be crucial to that, the veteran playmaker starting to show signs that his Wallabies career might have some life left in it yet. Reds by 13.
Saturday, April 9
Moana: William Havili, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Solomone Kata, Henry Taefu, Anzelo Tuitavuki, Lincoln McClutchie, Ereatara Enari, Sione Tu'ipulotu, Niko Jones, Michael Curry, Mahonri Ngakuru, Veikoso Poloniati, Chris Apoua, Ray Niuia, Ezekiel Lindenmuth. Replacements: Samiuela Moli, Taukiha'amea Koloamatangi, Suetena Asomua, Alex McRobbie, Josh Kaifa, Jonathan Taumateine, Fine Inisi, Tomasi Alosio
Chiefs: Chase Tiatia, Shaun Stevenson, Alex Nankivell, Rameka Poihipi, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Bryn Gatland, Cortez Ratima, Luke Jacobson (cc), Kaylum Boshier, Mitch Brown, Tupou Vaa'i, Josh Lord, Angus Ta'avao, Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris. Reserves: Tyrone Thompson, Aidan Ross, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Samipeni Finau, Brad Weber (cc), Rivez Reihana, Jonah Lowe.
Odds: [tab.com.au] TBC
Highlanders: Connor Garden-Bachop, Sam Gilbert, Denny Solomona, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Scott Gregory, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith; Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, James Lentjes, Gareth Evans, Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans, Jermaine Ainsley, Liam Coltman, Ethan De Groot. Replacements: Andrew Makalio, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Mau, Max Hicks, Billy Harmon, Folau Fakatava, Mitch Hunt, Fetuli Paea.
Hurricanes: Josh Moorby, Julian Savea, Bailyn Sullivan, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Jackson Garden-Bachop, TJ Perenara; Ardie Savea (c), Blake Gibson, Reed Prinsep, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Tevita Mafileo, Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones. Replacements: Kianu Kereru-Symes, Xavier Numia, Pasilio Tosi, Justin Sangster, Caleb Delany, Jamie Booth, Aidan Morgan, Peter Umaga-Jensen.
Odds: [tab.com.au] TBC
Force: Jake Strachan, Toni Pulu, Kyle Godwin, Bayley Kuenzle, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa, Ian Prior; Brynard Stander, Kane Koteka, Fergus Lee-Warner, Ryan McCauley, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu'u, Harrison Lloyd. Replacements: Andrew Ready, Bo Abra, Greg Holmes, Jackson Pugh, Ollie Callan, Michael McDonald, Jake McIntrye, Richard Kahui.
Waratahs: Alex Newsome, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Jake Gordon, Will Harris, Michael Hooper, Charles Gamble, Hugh Sinclair, Jed Holloway, Harry Johnson-Holmes, David Porecki, Angus Bell. Replacements: Mahe Vailanu, Tetera Faulkner, Archer Holz, Geoff Cridge, Rahboni Warren Vosataco, Jack Grant, Will Harrison, Jamie Roberts.
Odds: [tab.com.au] Force $2.20, +3.5 $1.85; Waratahs $1.62, -3.5 $1.90 [odds correct as of 11am 14/4]
Verdict: It really is now or never for the Western Force after they slumped to a disappointing loss to the Rebels last week, particularly when they were playing against 14 men for 30 minutes. While they say it hasn't been an issue, the announcement of Simon Cron as coach from next year certainly rattled a few cages in the west, and their form has been ordinary since. If there is one positive they can take away from a poor recent run, it's that they have been right in the contest. And Manasa Mataele continues to be a shining light. Fresh off the bye, the Waratahs welcome back Michael Hooper to the starting side with coach Darren Coleman opting for a dual fetcher set-up with Charlie Gamble's form too good to move him to the bench. Tane Edmed continues to impress at No. 10, meanwhile, and then there is the return of skipper Jake Gordon. NSW can take a huge step towards semifinal football with this one and coach Coleman will have made that message abundantly clear. Waratahs by 10.