2023 Crusaders vs Moana Pasifika

Super Rugby Pacific Round 7: Can The Reds Win Their Brumbies Rematch?

Super Rugby Pacific Round 7: Can The Reds Win Their Brumbies Rematch?

The Super Rugby slate still is stacked for the weekend. There will be plenty of implications, runs of form (good and bad) and storylines buzzing about.

Apr 6, 2023 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific Round 7: Can The Reds Win Their Brumbies Rematch?

Ready to slow down yet, Super Rugby Pacific fans?

Well, no matter what your answer is to that question, a few groups of supporters won’t be seeing their clubs face another on a pitch this weekend no matter what, as bye weeks begin across the competition. 

The Chiefs, Fijian Drua, Western Force and New South Wales Waratahs are off first, with sets of four teams taking a break each week until the end of Round 9. 

That means that each of the next three weekends, play will be limited to a four-match schedule, rather than the normal six we’ve seen during the first six rounds of the year.

Nonetheless, the Super Rugby slate still is stacked for the weekend. There will be plenty of implications, runs of form (good and bad) and storylines buzzing about.

And, make no mistake about it, any team playing this week that looks too far into the future and thinks it can cruise along into its bye, has another thing coming.

Here’s a look at the Super Rugby Pacific matches to watch for in Round 7 of the 2023 season, with numerous fixtures (including all listed below) being streamed live on FloRugby.

NOTE: All times are listed in Eastern Time and are subject to change.

Crusaders Vs. Moana Pasifika

Seemingly past their slow start to the season, in which they lost two of their first three fixtures, the Crusaders have played much-improved rugby as of late, making it three victories in a row, including a 25-12 triumph over the Queensland Reds – their 12th consecutive win against the Reds – last weekend. 

Even with a lineup without many heavy hitters, such as All Blacks Sevu Reece, Sam Whitelock and David Havili, the Christchurch club ruled in Brisbane behind a seventh try of the year from Leicester Fainga’anuku, which is tied for the most in the league.

Dominic Gardiner and Willi Heinz also managed to score, as the Reds struggled throughout the match with kicking accuracy, between set pieces and live play. 

The Crusaders, the four-time defending champions, get a bye week in Round 8, but they’ll head into the break with a match against bottom-ranked Moana Pasifika, which is the competition’s only winless club this year.

Moana Pasifika has struggled mightily, scoring the fewest (18) and allowing the most (41) tries of any team in the league. 

Expect one of two things to happen at the Orangetheory Stadium. 

First, Crusader dominance, is the more likely option, considering the Pacific Islander squad’s poor form at the moment anchoring it to the bottom of the table at a lowly two points. 

The second option is more of a fun scenario that’s not entirely out of the question – Moana Pasifika puts up an inspired performance in similar vein to its fellow islander club, Fijian Drua, who shocked the Crusaders in a 25-24 stunner in Round 3. 

Even with a beat-up lineup and rest on the horizon, the Crusaders falling flat against by far the weakest team in Super Rugby would be a major surprise. But crazier things have happened.

Brumbies Vs. Queensland Reds

It’s a repeat matchup between Aussie rivals in Round 7. 

The Brumbies and Reds already have tussled once in 2023, with the Canberra club emerging forward with a 23-17 win just a few weeks ago on March 11. 

In the three matches that have gone on for each team since, there are mixed feelings on both ends. 

The Brumbies are Australia’s top-performing Super Rugby team at the moment and sit third in the standings on just a single defeat, but that 35-17 loss to the Crusaders in Round 5 was followed by a shaky 40-36 triumph over the basement-dwelling New South Wales Waratahs last weekend. 

The Brumbies needed to come back from 12 points down in the final 20 minutes to improve their winning streak over the Tahs to 11 matches. 

The Reds, meanwhile, look bound for the playoff bubble, if trends don’t change over the coming rounds.

The loss to the Crusaders in Round 6 was preceded by split games over the Drua (a 27-24 win) and Melbourne Rebels (a 40-34 loss). Both of those clubs are hovering around the elusive eighth, and final, postseason slot that Queensland is holding at the moment. 

Though the Brumbies will be favored to get the season sweep this weekend, they may be playing with fire a little too much. Of the five teams in Super Rugby currently on a positive point differential, they have the lowest total at plus-29. 

Meanwhile, the Reds are the closest to a positive differential of all the negative teams at a mere minus-5, potentially indicating that Queensland has been a few lucky bounces from being in a completely different spot in the standings. 

It very well may be a fight to the final siren at the Suncorp Stadium.

Highlanders Vs. Hurricanes

Looking as if they were in dire straits after three rounds and three defeats, the Highlanders (now positioned in sixth place in the league table) have ripped off a trio of victories to boost their way back up to the playoff places and rescue a season that looked to be careening toward disaster for a moment. 

But, just how serious is this push, exactly? 

They’re about to find out against the white-hot Hurricanes, who are in second place and trying to keep pace with the league-leading Chiefs or even take hold of first place in the table following Round 7 with a game in hand when the Chiefs return to play. 

Coach Jason Holland’s squad has fired off three consecutive victories of their own, though all wasn’t totally smooth sailing in their latest match against the Western Force. There, the Hurricanes allowed five second-half tries and let the Force flirt with a massive comeback (and additionally nab a bonus point in the process) in a 45-42 win. 

Deflating late could be a warning sign for the Hurricanes, as the Highlanders played their best rugby in the second half of their win over Moana Pasifika in Round 6, scoring 26 unanswered points out of the dressing room with a balanced attack that saw seven tries scored by seven players. 

A similar output against the Hurricanes would make for a signature win for first-year coach Clarke Dermody and show that the Highlanders are not to be taken lightly the rest of the way, despite still trying to rebound from a four-win campaign in 2022.

But, the high-flying Hurricanes (who lead all of Super Rugby with 35 tries this year), will be out to try and overwhelm the Dunedin club early and with overwhelming force.