The Melbourne Rebels will be hoping to continue their dream start to the 2018 Super Rugby season when they host the Hurricanes at AAMI Park in this week 7 clash on Friday evening.
The Rebels picked up their first ever win over the Durban based Sharks last weekend, thrashing Rob du Preez’s men 46-14 at home. That win, coupled with impressive triumphs over the Brumbies, Reds and the Sunwolves has seen Dave Wessels’ side top the log six rounds into the competition.
Super Rugby Round 7 Fixtures- Kit Battles
Chiefs (Adidas) vs Highlanders (Adidas)
Rebels (BLK) vs Hurricanes (Adidas)
Blues (Adidas) vs Sharks (Canterbury)
Brumbies (Classic) vs Waratahs (Canterbury)
Bulls (Puma) vs Stormers (Bespoke)
Lions (Puma) vs Crusaders (Adidas)
Rebels v Canes (1st v 4th)
The clash between the Rebels and the Canes is the first match up between and Australian and a Kiwi side in Super Rugby this season. The Canes thrashed the Rebels 71-6 in the last meeting between the two sides, so there is plenty of motivation for the men from Melbourne to beat their opponents from across the Tasman.
Chiefs v Highlanders (5th v 6th)
The New Zealand conference is clearly the strongest in Super Rugby- only two points currently separate NZC leaders Crusaders from the Otago Highlanders. Aaron Mauger’s side suffered their first defeat of 2018 when they went down 29-12 at the Cake Tin to the Canes last weekend. They will be looking to immediately bounce back against the Chiefs, who come into this game on the back of an easy 61-10 win over the Sunwolves in Japan.
The Highlanders have won their last two away fixtures against the Chiefs, and will be keen to make it three in a row. If other results go their way, they could be even topping the NZ Conference after the Easter Weekend.
Blues v Sharks (13th v 10th)
The Sharks, tipped by many to be to be South African champions this season, have begun in the worst possible way, and took a 30 point hiding against the Rebels last weekend. Their tour has been a disaster so far with losses in Canberra and Melbourne, and the inconsistent Blues will fancy their chances at Eden Park.
The Sharks had a fantastic record against the Blues- a ten game winning streak that was broken by the Aucklanders in the last meeting between the two in 2016.
Tana Umaga has shifted the exciting Rieko Ioane to No.12 for this game and the battle between Ioane-Moala and the Sharks inform centre combo of Andre Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am should be a very tasty one indeed. A look at https://bettingsites.ltd.uk/ shows that the Blues are being quoted at 1/5, with the Sharks at 11/2.
Bulls v Stormers (14th v 8th)
The North-South derby at Loftus will be a key match for John Mitchell’s Bulls, who played well on their tour, but had little to show for their efforts in terms of results. The Bulls however did beat the Hurricanes in their opener and are a different beast altogether at altitude in Pretoria. Adriaan Strauss will become the most capped South African Super Rugby player of all time in this clash, with the former Springbok hooker set to earn his 149th cap.
The Stormers, like the Bulls, had a poor tour, but beat the Reds last week in Cape Town. Scrumhalf Justin Philips will make his first start at 9 following a rib injury to Dewaldt Duvenhage. The other change is at right wing, where Dillyn Leyds comes in for the injured JJ Engelbrecht.
Lions v Crusaders
The final game of Round 7 is a blockbuster one- a repeat of last year’s Super Rugby final. The Lions are second in the log, but have shown some vulnerabilities in recent weeks, losing to the Blues and the Jaguares and just about edging the Sunwolves. Can Scott Robertson’s men again win at Ellis Park?