PREVIEW: Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa – Blues v Highlanders

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Match details: Saturday 27 June, 7.05pm, Eden Park, Auckland

Referee: Paul Williams

Played: 33

Won: Blues 17, Highlanders 16

Last match: Highlanders 24, Blues 12 (20 Apil 2019)

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FORM

The Blues have set Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa alight in the opening two rounds. After dispatching the Hurricanes at home in round one, the Blues picked up a big win on the road against the Chiefs to make it a club record of five wins away from home in a row. The Highlanders will be fresh after a bye last week and should ride into Auckland with plenty of confidence on the back of their last gasp victory over the Chiefs in round one.

 

SEVENS STARS CLASH

There will be no shortage of pace and slippery moves out wide with All Blacks Sevens stars Caleb Clarke and Jona Nareki squaring off in the 11 jersey. With the fleet footed Vilimoni Koroi out for the Highlanders, another sevens flyer steps into the fray in the form of Scott Gregory who will don the 15 jersey. Gregory said he was excited to take the opportunity. “It seems like a long time since my first game against the Rebels earlier in the year, and I am really looking forward to getting out there, with the talent we have in our backs you have to take your opportunities when you can,” Gregory said.

 

 

 

BLUES STICK WITH WINNING FORMULA

Blues Head Coach Leon MacDonald has stayed loyal to side that did the business in Hamilton last week by naming an unchanged starting line-up. “This group of 23 continue to do the business. They are developing well to the style of game we want to play and adapting positively to the new rule emphasis, which will lead to a more exciting and fluid game,” MacDonald said.

MARCHING ON

The game will also mark the final appearance in Blues colours for Harlequins import Joe Marchant. Leon MacDonald said that Marchant is a popular player who will be missed by the team. “He has contributed well on and off the field and we are confident he will return as a more complete footballer for the experience when he returns to Harlequins,” MacDonald said.

 

STATCHAT

The Highlanders have won 11 of their last 15 Investec Super Rugby games against the Blues.

 

TICKETS

After selling out their opening game against the Hurricanes, tickets are selling fast at Eden Park with a crowd in excess of 25,000 expected. Grab your tickets HERE.

 

TEAMS

 

Blues:

Beauden Barrett, Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane, TJ Faiane, Caleb Clarke, Otere Black, Sam Nock, Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali'i, Akira Ioane, Josh Goodhue, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Ofa Tuungafasi, James Parsons, Alex Hodgman.

 

Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Marcel Renata, Sione Mafileo, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Tony Lamborn, Finlay Christie, Harry Plummer, Joe Marchant.

 

Highlanders:

Scott Gregory, Sam Gilbert, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone.

 

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kayne Hammington, Bryn Gatland, Ngane Punivai

 

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