2023 Hurricanes vs Brumbies Rugby

Super Rugby Pacific, Round 10: Can Crusaders Get Revenge Against Chiefs?

Super Rugby Pacific, Round 10: Can Crusaders Get Revenge Against Chiefs?

It's the final sprint to the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs, and the kickoff to what should be an epic final few weeks of the season can’t get much better.

Apr 28, 2023 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific, Round 10: Can Crusaders Get Revenge Against Chiefs?

The bye weeks are done. The contenders are clear. The stage is set.

The final sprint to the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs has arrived, and the kickoff to what should be an epic final few weeks of the regular season can’t get much better.

All 12 of the competition’s teams are slated to play this weekend, while all four of the top clubs in the table are slated to play against one another. 

Massive point swings and seeding implications are on the line in multiple games, and if the team that eventually holds the top seed in the postseason has a round of play to thank for putting it in position to succeed, chances are high it will be able to point to Round 10 as its defining fixture of the season.

Plus, closer to the playoff cutoff line, there’s a tight battle brewing near the drop zone of the top 8 – better known as the teams that’ll be suiting up to play for a Super Rugby title after 15 rounds of rugby conclude in a few weeks.

Both ends of the spectrum are worth your time, because it’s for certain the players involved will be giving their best efforts and energies to the show.

Here’s a look at the Super Rugby Pacific matches to watch for in Round 10 of the 2023 season, with numerous fixtures (including all listed below) being streamed throughout the year on FloRugby.

Hurricanes Vs. Brumbies

The entire complexity of Super Rugby’s top 4 (and race for a home playoff match) could change within a single weekend, and the first of two substantial games in regard to the fight at the top of the table will be none other than the first match of the round. 

No team has been able to touch the league-leading Chiefs all season, but for the second-place Brumbies – with a win over the Hurricanes, plus some help from the Crusaders – they could completely flip the title hunt on its head with a heavy point swing, and recent history sides with the Aussies, as they’ve won their past three matches on the trot against the ‘Canes. 

But no matter which team is triumphant at the end of the 80 minutes, expect fireworks until the final siren. 

A leaky Brumbies back line (221 points allowed in 2023, the most of any club in the top 5) will be up for a task against a Hurricanes attack that has the most tries scored in the league (41) to this point.

The counter for the visitors to the Sky Stadium will be that their 291 points scored is the best mark in Super Rugby, and it’s only failed them once this year (a loss last month to the Crusaders). 

The Brumbies and Hurricanes both were on bye in Round 9, meaning bumps and bruises have had time to heal in time for the final leg of the season.

Hurricanes winger Julian Savea should be in line to receive his 150th cap for the club, joining teammate TJ Perenara as the only two players in its history to reach the milestone. 

What better way is there for the Hurricanes to celebrate the accomplishment than by taking down the Brumbies to shove their way up to as high as second place in Super Rugby at the end of the weekend?

Chiefs Vs. Crusaders

No one would have blamed the Crusaders for thinking they had Super Rugby figured out as they entered the 2023 season. 

After all, they are the four-time reigning and champions of the competition (in non-COVID affected years) and feature a squad stacked to the brim with All Blacks and world-beaters. 

But in Round 1, the Chiefs gave the Christchurch club a rude awakening, stunning coach Scott Robertson’s side with a 31-10 shocker at the Orangetheory Stadium. 

Two and a half months later, as the two titans clash in a long-awaited rematch, a lot has changed in Super Rugby. 

In regard to the Chiefs, they used that first-weekend upset to propel themselves into first place in the league as its only unbeaten team.

Super Rugby try leader Shaun Stevenson (eight tries) might have booked himself a spot at the Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks later this year, thanks to his stellar performances.

Samisoni Taukei’aho has beaten more defenders (26) than any other player in the league.

A wealth of other contributors to coach Clayton McMillan’s squad have contributed to putting the Hamiltonians in a terrific spot to contend for their first Super Rugby crown in a decade. 

As for the Crusaders – who at one point sat 1-2 – they’ve rebounded spectacularly to win five games on the bounce entering Round 10, beating the likes of the Brumbies and the Blues along the way.

They’ve also learned news in that stretch that Robertson (an integral part and orchestrator of the many Crusaders trophies since he joined in 2017) will take over for Ian Foster as the coach of the All Blacks starting in 2024. 

With the knowledge that this year will be Robertson’s final ride for now at the club level, the Crusaders likely have an extra kick of motivation to send him out on top. 

Getting redemption over the Chiefs at their home ground would be a massive step toward reaching that goal.

Queensland Reds Vs. Western Force

Two clubs in playoff contention that are in dire need of victories to get themselves out of prolonged slumps, the Reds and the Force both know going into their meeting to close Round 10 that getting the victor’s share of points – especially as this season’s Super Rugby table increasingly moves into a status of haves and have-nots – will be especially vital, as neither of their postseason fates are anywhere close to certain. 

Just two points separate the sixth-place Reds from the 10th-place New South Wales Waratahs in the standings entering this weekend.

The fifth-place Blues hold an 11-point gap over the Reds in the meantime, so it probably means nearly every club from Queensland down is going to be in a dogfight the rest of the way to make up the eight-team playoff field. 

The Reds’ form has been slightly better than the Force’s lately, even as both enter their matchup coming off of victories.

Queensland, which under departing coach Brad Thorn is trying to make it back-to-back Super Rugby playoff appearances for the first time since 2013, has beaten Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika across its past five fixtures.

In that same time frame, the Force have only mustered a single win in, though it was a massive one over a fellow playoff contender in the Highlanders, as part of a key 30-17 triumph in Round 9, thanks to a trio of first-half tries. 

Still, the Force have some heavy hoodoo to break if they want to beat Queensland and put themselves on more stable footing to make the Super Rugby postseason, after narrowly missing out in 2022.

They’ve lost seven of their past eight against Australian teams, and their last four overall away from home. And a 71-20 loss to the Reds in the Melbourne Super Round earlier in the year was downright disastrous. 

Much crazier has happened, though, and perhaps the Force’s big win last weekend was a sign that things are on the up and up.