2023 Queensland Reds vs Blues

Super Rugby Pacific, Round 13: Can 'Canes Get Revenge Over Stunned Chiefs?

Super Rugby Pacific, Round 13: Can 'Canes Get Revenge Over Stunned Chiefs?

Only three fixtures remaining until the Super Rugby quarterfinals. It's time for those in contention to do what they can to maximize their potential.

May 19, 2023 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific, Round 13: Can 'Canes Get Revenge Over Stunned Chiefs?

No longer is there a team in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season that stands without a loss.

The last of them, the league-leading Chiefs, were defeated by the Queensland Reds in Round 12.

Considering the Reds’ position as a club fighting for its playoff life, it also may be indicative that the championship chase isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem.

Either way, with just three fixtures remaining until the eight-team quarterfinals get going next month, it’s time for those in contention to polish their resumes and do what they can to maximize their potential for postseason success. 

And, in a 2023 season in which a longstanding empire looks more and more like it’s going to come crashing down, who knows where all that preparation will lead, as well as who will get the spoils at the end of the season.

Here’s a look at the Super Rugby Pacific matches to watch for in Round 13 of the 2023 season, with numerous fixtures this year (including all listed below) being streamed on FloRugby.

Queensland Reds Vs. Blues

Hello, Queensland. 

In one of the biggest shocks of the 2023 Super Rugby season, the Reds, with playoff hopes in danger of slipping away if they didn’t get a win against the league-leading Chiefs in Round 12, got a massive result that was the culmination of a decade of waiting. 

After 21 consecutive losses on New Zealand soil over 10 years, the Reds slayed the best Kiwi team of them all this year on the road. They beat the then-unbeaten Chiefs 25-22, snuffing a final charge from the title contenders in the final embers of the match after the full-time siren. 

It was a monumental upset by coach Brad Thorn’s side that was huge for its postseason chances.

At 23 points and in seventh place in the Super Rugby table with just three matches remaining, the Reds are six points ahead of the drop zone (where ninth-place Fijian Drua lurks) and have a little bit more breathing room in their playoff push. 

They’ll definitely need it this matchweek against a Blues squad that’s concurrently chasing a home playoff match and trying to avoid going anywhere but their own Eden Park for the quarterfinals. 

Currently fifth, it has been a down year for the Aucklanders compared to their epic run to last season’s final, and though the Blues have won five of their past seven (along with a draw mixed in) against Queensland in Super Rugby play, a raucous crowd in Brisbane will be serenading the Reds in their return home after such a massive victory. 

The crowd will be behind them in another huge fixture in which every point matters. 

With the Blues coming off a loss to the Crusaders, one in which they only scored three points, that’s especially true if the visitor’s attacking woes continue on into Round 13.

Chiefs Vs. Hurricanes

So, the Chiefs, after appearing near-untouchable for most of the 2023 season, finally got hit in the mouth. 

How exactly is coach Clayton McMillan’s team going to respond? 

If it’s looking for a bounce-back win in Round 13, it’s going to be far from easy to attain. 

Keep in mind, the Chiefs have not clinched the top seed in the playoffs yet, as the second-place Brumbies sit five points back, while the Hurricanes, currently in third, could improve their standing in the table by handing the leaders back-to-back defeats after 10 straight victories to start the competition. 

To the Chiefs’ benefit, however, they’ve already squared off with (and beaten) the Hurricanes once this season – three second-half tries helped push the Hamiltonians to a 33-17 win in Round 8 at the Sky Stadium, with the rematch taking place back at the FMG Stadium Waikato for the final time before the postseason begins. 

Add in that 23-year-old winger Etene Nanai-Seturo has crossed over for three tries in his past three games for the Chiefs, and the advantages are sliding in the hosts’ favor, as they look to get back on track and get closer to clinching the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. 

The ‘Canes, meanwhile, have been a talented bunch all year, but they’ve been struck with a bit of inconsistency over the past few weeks. 

Their loss to the Chiefs was followed by an impressive win over the Brumbies, but a loss to the plucky Drua occurred after. They got back on track again with a dominant performance against Moana Pasifika in Round 12 (via a 71-22 rout), though. 

Being one of the top four teams means a quarterfinal match in Wellington, and a revenge triumph over the Chiefs would get the Hurricanes one step closer to earning that privilege.

New South Wales Waratahs Vs. Fijian Drua

Time is running out for one of the favorites of Super Rugby, the Drua (who sit a point out of the top 8 as of this writing), to make a defining move. 

At first, it looked like that came in Round 11, when Fiji’s Super Rugby team defeated the Hurricanes in one of the upsets of the competition, spurring the Drua to the playoff places in just their second season in the league. 

But they then fell flat in the game that followed to a fellow postseason contender in the Western Force, being jumped by the Aussies in the standings after they picked up a bonus point in a 34-14 win in Perth. 

The Tahs (26 points), meanwhile, are in a much safer position and have a clearer goal in mind – beat the Drua, and they’re essentially guaranteed to be in the playoffs, no matter what, as the Melbourne Rebels and Highlanders (on 15 points each) would need New South Wales to lose out and themselves to go on an unlikely run of bonus-point victories over the final two weeks to even have a chance at knocking the one-time champions out of the competition. 

The Drua could be looking more toward their showdown with hapless and winless island rival Moana Pasifika in Round 14 for a chance to snatch a victory, but a big result over the Tahs unquestionably would ease some concerns going into a must-win scenario for the club. 

The bad news with that for the Drua is that NSW is white-hot, having won four of its past five, including the last three. They took care of business against the Rebels in a 38-20 win last weekend. 

A result either way, however, should have major implications for what the playoff race will look like over the final two games of the season.