2022 Chiefs vs NSW Waratahs

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Blues Claim First, Trans-Tasman Phase Begins

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Blues Claim First, Trans-Tasman Phase Begins

After a few make-up games last week, all teams are back to even terms as Aussie and Kiwi squads clash in the Trans-Tasman phase of Super Rugby Pacific.

Apr 18, 2022 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Blues Claim First, Trans-Tasman Phase Begins

At least for one week in Super Rugby Pacific, there’s a new king of the ladder.

But with the all-important Trans-Tasman portion of the competition—when Australian and New Zealand clubs finally get a crack at each other—there’s sure to be some shifting standings.

An Australian team hasn’t won a Super Rugby title since New South Wales Waratahs accomplished the feat back in 2014. Still, there are Aussie rugby outfits that are in the thick of the title fight as the days tick down until the playoffs—and old guards of the Kiwi game in the hunt right with them.

Here are the headlines heading into the opening weekend of Trans-Tasman play. Look no further and check out Super Rugby Pacific streaming all season on FloRugby: 

Blues Are Tops After Historic Win 

Auckland-based Blues are red hot right now. In Round 9, Blues continued their brilliant form by pairing it with a side of history. No team in Super Rugby Pacific holds a longer winning streak this season than Blues’ seven straight after coach Leon MacDonald’s men beat top-half New Zealand rival Crusaders by a 27-23 score in Round 9—marking the first time since 2004 that Blues had been able to snatch a win in Christchurch. 

Flanker Dalton Papalii, who was six years old the last time Blues could claim an away victory over Crusaders, scored one of Blues’ three tries on the afternoon alongside Finlay Christie and Kurt Eklund. Eklund notched his sixth try of the season to stay one behind top league scorer Tom Wright of Brumbies. 

Speaking of Brumbies, the squad entered the weekend at the top of the table, but was off in Round 9, meaning the Blues’ win made them level on points (at 31) with Brumbies only leading by scoring differential. No squad in Super Rugby has put up more total points throughout matches than the Blues’ 250, though. They’ll get a chance to up that total against Fijian Drua this weekend.

Reds Survive Scare With Rebels

With Melbourne Rebels having entered their Round 9 matchup with Queensland Reds on a two-game winning run and narrowly outside playoff places—a Reds trap game was certainly in the cards. How close the meeting actually turned out to be, might have surprised some Reds fans. 

Queensland sneaked past Melbourne 36-32 after trailing in the second half, with back-to-back tries from Taniela Tupou and Josh Flook sealing the deal after the Rebels led briefly by a 25-24 margin with 15 minutes to play. 

Reds have recovered well from the loss to Brumbies in Round 5, winning three straight contests as coach Brad Thorn’s side sits just a point behind Brumbies and Blues in third. With yet another club on this weekend’s schedule that is looking to avoid the playoff drop zone in Hurricanes (which sit in seventh, nine points ahead of ninth-placed Rebels), Queensland will have to prove that it’s able to fend off another pesky foe as it looks to lock up a spot in the postseason in the coming matchweeks.

Super Rugby Finally Back On Even Terms

After a litany of COVID-19-related cancelations caused turmoil to the Super Rugby Pacific schedule, all teams in the competition are now level on eight matches played. Both Moana Pasifika and Hurricanes played two matches in Round 9 to get back up to speed from early-season postponements. With all the teams now on a more-even scale to judge upon, this year’s Super Rugby season can be divided into four camps. 

There are the league debutants in Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua, both of which are undoubtedly full of pride representing their heritage in one of the top club rugby competitions in the world—but both of which are also nailed to the bottom of the standings with the two lowest points scored and highest points allowed in the league. 

A spicy race for the coveted eighth and final spot in the playoffs could come down to current holders Western Force, Rebels and Highlanders—all within a game of each other, in what could be some volatile shifting in the table. 

The mid-table sees New South Wales Waratahs, Chiefs and Hurricanes sitting fairly comfortably, while the top-four of Crusaders, Reds, Brumbies and Blues all look threatening enough to challenge for the title. The competition is well into its latter half now, and there’s sure to be plenty more disruption to come across the board.

Waratahs, Chiefs Await Joust For Playoff Positioning

Speaking of the mid-table, Waratahs and Chiefs each have the goal of both staying there and elevating themselves to the upper tier with a bit of luck. One team will capitalize on an opportunity when they play each other this week. 

Tahs and Chiefs are fifth and sixth in the standings entering Round 10, respectively, with Chiefs especially trying to string together some consistency after not winning consecutive matches since Rounds 4 and 5.

But Waratahs, who have fallen back a bit since challenging Brumbies near the top earlier in the competition, are looking to rebound in a big way by notching their third straight win after successive victories over Fijian Drua and Western Force over the past three matchweeks. 

Can Upstart Hurricanes Catch Reds Off-Guard?

Hurricanes looked to have been going through some serious issues just a couple of matchweeks ago. The Wellingtonians had suffered three successive defeats and didn’t look to be quite up to speed from issues related to COVID-19 that resulted in the team having a 20-day break from matches in March. But in the makeup games coach Jason Holland’s side had this past week, they passed with flying colors, going 2-0 in Round 9 after a demolition of Moana Pasifika and a narrow one-point win over Highlanders. 

Now, with some extra breathing room in the playoff places, Hurricanes can start trying to look ahead at the teams it can pick off for points—and Reds could be one that’s vulnerable. As mentioned previously, Reds didn’t look impressive against Rebels this past weekend, and Hurricanes look to be finally back up to full fitness after handling the double matchweek in stride. 

Surprisingly, only Blues have scored more points this season than Hurricanes’ 230. A shaky defense that’s allowed 26 tries in eight matches is the main reason the team’s current standings aren't better. With adversity behind them, though, it’s quite possible Hurricanes could go from underrated to undeniable in the coming weeks. Full points against Reds would be a great way to introduce themselves to the fray.

Super Rugby Pacific Schedule: Round 10

NOTE: All match start times are listed in Eastern Time.


Chiefs vs. Waratahs, 4 a.m.

Moana Pasifika vs. Western Force, 6:30 a.m.


Blues vs. Fijian Drua, 3:05 a.m.

Hurricanes vs. Reds, 5:45 a.m.


Highlanders vs. Brumbies, 12:00 a.m.

Crusaders vs. Rebels, 2:30 a.m.