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Super Rugby Round 8 preview panel

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/04/2016

Preview of Super Rugby Round 8 matches (all times NZT):

FRIDAY, April 15

Crusaders v Jaguares at Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch 7.35pm

Head to head: first meeting

The Jaguares have been bolstered with some key inclusions with skipper Agustin Creevy at hooker and the Test five-eighth Juan Martin Hernandez. The Buenos Aires-based team promised so much early on but have failed to deliver and are looking at their sixth straight loss. The Crusaders only just edged the Force and have made five changes to the starting line-up but they should have too much class at home.

Rebels v Hurricanes at AAMI Park, Melbourne 9.45pm

Head to head: Played 4 Rebels 1 Hurricanes 3

In Melbourne: Played 2 Rebels 1 Hurricanes 1

Last clash: Round 7 2015 - Hurricanes 36 bt Rebels 12 at Westpac Stadium

The Rebels says they're fresh and fit after their bye and they will need to be against the Hurricanes, who are on a four-game winning streak. Melbourne skipper Nic Stirzaker has been cleared to play after a head knock in their win over the Tahs however bustling centre Mitch Inman is unlikely to join him due to a hand injury. Former Rebel Jason Woodward is starting as Hurricanes fullback while Vince Aso and Matt Proctor are the new centres. The Hurricanes have won their last three clashes and while it will be closer than their last meeting, should make it four.

SATURDAY, April 16

Cheetahs v Sunwolves at Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein 5.00am

Head to head: Played 1 Cheetahs 1 Sunwolves 0

In Bloemfontein: first meeting

Last clash: Round 3 2016 - Cheetahs 32 bt Sunwolves 31 at Singapore National Stadium

The Cheetahs will become the first team to face the Sunwolves twice and will be aiming to record back-to-back wins over the Japanese side following their one-point victory in Round 3. That's the only joy the Cheetahs have had all season so it's hard to see them passing up a second dose - especially since the Sunwolves have lost both of their matches away from home so far this campaign, conceding a whopping 79 points in the process.

Blues v Sharks at Eden Park, Auckland 7.35pm

Head to head: Played 18 Blues 4 Sharks 14

In Auckland: Played 8 Blues 2 Sharks 6

Last clash: Round 15 2014 - Sharks 29 bt Blues 23 at North Harbour Stadium

The Sharks have won their last 10 matches against the Blues, though six of those 10 wins have been by seven points or fewer. And while they're undefeated in their last four away matches, the Sharks have lost on each of their last three trips to New Zealand - two of those defeats coming by more than 30 points. After the Sharks lost form player Marcell Coetzee for the rest of the season last week, the Blues will be licking their lips.

NSW Waratahs v Brumbies at Allianz Stadium, Sydney 9.45pm

Head to head: Played 28 Waratahs 16 Brumbies 12

In Sydney: Played 15 Waratahs 13 Brumbies 2

Last clash: Round 2 2016 - Brumbies 32 bt Waratahs 15 at GIO Stadium

Things are getting desperate for the NSW Waratahs, who have dropped to third in the Australian conference after last week's loss to the Melbourne Rebels. So desperate measures have followed, with Israel Folau shifted from fullback to inside centre, where he will make his first Super Rugby start in that position opposite Kurtley Beale. The Brumbies, meanwhile, will be without the suspended David Pocock and the retired Ita Vaea.

SUNDAY, April 17

Bulls v Queensland Reds at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 3.05am

Head to head: Played 17 Bulls 7 Reds 10

In Pretoria: Played 8 Bulls 6 Reds 2

Last clash: Round 9 2015 - Bulls 43 bt Reds 22 at Loftus Versfeld

After last week's surprise win over reigning champions the Highlanders, suddenly anything is possible for the Queensland Reds. Rob Simmons (shoulder) might be out but confidence is high and the Reds have beaten the Bulls three times in their past five meetings. But the Bulls are in good form, having won their last three games in a row, including a huge win over the struggling Kings last weekend.

Lions v Stormers at Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg 5.15am

Head to head: Played 21 Lions 5 Stormers 15 drawn 1

In Johannesburg: Played 11 Lions 3 Stormers 8

Last clash: Round 17 2015 - Stormers 19 drew Lions 19 at Newlands Rugby Stadium

The Stormers have won 15 of their last 16 games against the Lions but this could be a circuit-breaker with the Johannesburg side stepping up this season. They put the Sharks to the sword with a 13-point win while Stormers also won big against the Sunwolves. The Lions may struggle to penetrate the miserly Stormers defence giving the visitors a slight edge.

BYE: Chiefs, Highlanders, Sharks, Western Force

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