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Super Rugby round six preview panel

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/03/2017

PREVIEW OF SUPER RUGBY ROUND SIX (all times AEDT):

FRIDAY, March 31

HIGHLANDERS v REBELS at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 17:35

Head to head: Played 5, Highlanders 4, Rebels 1

Highlanders at home: Played 2, Highlanders 2, Rebels 0

Last clash: Round 5, 2016, Highlanders 27 bt Rebels 3 in Melbourne.

The Highlanders present the Rebels' best chance for a win over a Kiwi team this season given they too are last on their conference ladder. Melbourne have already had three cracks at the New Zealanders so they've had plenty of practice. They were at their best in the first half against the Waratahs and their worst in the second half while the Highlanders will have their tails up after pipping the Brumbies in Perth. Unlikely to be the week the Rebels crack their first win.

Tab Sportsbet: Highlanders $1.05, Rebels $9

Tip: Highlanders by 11

SATURDAY, April 1

BLUES v FORCE at Eden Park, Auckland, 15:15

Head to head: Played 10, Blues 8, Force 1, draws 1

Blues at home: Played 5, Blues 1, Force 1

Last clash: Round 13, 2016, Blues 17 bt Force 13 in Auckland

The Force have only won once in their last 10 trips away from home while the Blues have been smashing Australian opposition at Eden Park - but then who hasn't. A massive rumour was circulating this week that the Force were the team to be cut from the competition so they may rally on the back of that to prove a point. But like most Kiwi teams, the Blues should prove too big, too fast and too strong.

Tab Sportsbet: Blues $1.08, Force $8

Tip: Blues by 14

CHIEFS v BULLS at FMG Stadium, Waikato, 17:35

Head to head: Played 18, Chiefs 9, Bulls 7, draws 2

Chiefs at home: Played 9, Blues 7, Bulls 1, draws 1

Last clash: Round 15, 2015, Chiefs 34 bt Bulls 20 in Rotorua

Tab Sportsbet: Chiefs $1.08, Bulls $8

Tip: Chiefs by 17

REDS v HURRICANES at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 19:45

Head to head: Played 20, Reds 6, Hurricanes 14

Reds at home: Played 9, Reds 4, Hurricanes 5

Last clash: Round 12, 2016: Hurricanes 29 bt Reds 14 in Wellington

The Reds are finally back home after a nightmare two-week tour of South Africa and Argentina but it gets no easier for Nick Stiles' embattled side. George Smith and Rob Simmons have been recalled to Queensland's starting side but promising lock Izack Rodda is out injured and Quade Cooper is suspended for another two weeks. Highly rated rookie Hamish Stewart is poised for his Super Rugby debut off the bench as a replacement for five-eighth Jake McIntyre. But it'll take something truly special to overcome a dangerous Beauden Barrett-led Hurricanes side which is ominously fresh from a week off.

Tab Sportsbet: Reds $5.75, Hurricanes $1.14

Tip: Hurricanes by 20

SUNDAY, April 2

STORMERS v CHEETAHS at DHL Newlands, Cape Town, 12:05

Head to head: Played 17, Stormers 12, Cheetahs 5

Stormers at home: Played 9, Stormers 8, Cheetahs 1

Last clash: Round 14, 2016: Stormers 31 bt Cheetahs 24 in Cape Town

Tab Sportsbet: Stormers $1.25, Cheetahs $4

Tip: Stormers by 24

LIONS v SHARKS at Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg 02:15

Head to head: Played 24, Lions 6, Sharks 16, draws 2

Kings at home: Played 12, Lions 4, Sharks 6, draws 2

Last clash: Round 15, 2016: Lions 37 bt Sharks 10 in Johannesburg

Tab Sportsbet: Lions $1.30, Sharks $3.55

Tip: Lions by 7

WARATAHS v CRUSADERS at Allianz Stadium, Sydney, 16:05

Head to head: Played 23, Waratahs 6, Crusaders 17

Waratahs at home: Played 10, Waratahs 5, Crusaders 5

Last clash: Round 13, 2016: Crusaders 29 bt Waratahs 10 in Christchurch

With Bernard Foley in doubt as he continues to battle post-concussion symptoms, untried youngster Mack Mason is in line to make a shock Super Rugby debut against the competition's undefeated kings from Christchurch. Coach Daryl Gibson is giving Foley every chance to prove his fitness after the Wallabies playmaker reignited the Waratahs' season in last week's thrilling comeback win over the Rebels. Australian teams are none from seven against New Zealand opposition in 2017 and trans-Tasman showdowns don't come any bigger than a rematch between two rivals who have clashed in three finals over the years.

Tab Sportsbet: Waratahs $3.50, Crusaders $1.30

Tip: Crusaders by 10

Bye: Brumbies, Sunwolves, Jaguares, Kings

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