2022 Crusaders vs NSW Waratahs

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Kiwi Teams Make Statement

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Kiwi Teams Make Statement

In the first run of Trans-Tansman play this season in Super Rugby Pacific, the New Zealand squads nearly shut out their Aussie counterparts.

Apr 26, 2022 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Kiwi Teams Make Statement

New Zealand knows rugby, and its clubs proved that fact in Round 10 of Super Rugby Pacific.

Last matchweek kicked off the Trans-Tasman—the matches between Australian and New Zealand teams—portion of the season, and the Kiwi teams rolled for the most part. But with some pesky Australian teams across the standings still in the fight for ideal positioning. 

As the weeks tick down until the playoffs, that tension is only going to get more powerful as opportunities dwindle. May the best side prevail, wherever it may be.

Here are the storylines as we head into Round 11 of the Super Rugby season. And, make sure to check out the matches on FloRugby this weekend.

New Zealand Squads Flex Their Muscles

It’s safe to say the Kiwi teams in Super Rugby Pacific had themselves a fine weekend. In the first matchweek of Trans-Tasman play, New Zealand’s teams went 4-1 over their non-Kiwi rivals, with Brumbies’ win over Highlanders the only blemish. 

Not only that, but all of the victories were downright dominant. The Chiefs put up the third 50-point game (and second one of their season) in Super Rugby this season in its 51-27 win over New South Wales Waratahs. Blues, Crusaders and Hurricanes all managed to clear house by both winning their matches by double digits and scoring at least 30. 

Currently, four of the top-six teams (including leaders Blues) are New Zealander, and if the destruction of teams from the Land Down Under becomes routine, that number could increase. 

Nonetheless, Brumbies in second still clearly have the horses to compete for silverware as one of the toughest teams in the competition this season. For a team that calls Canberra home, they may also be Australia’s best hope for the country’s first Super Rugby championship since 2014.

Hurricanes Stun Reds In Comeback

Speaking of non-New Zealand squads having a bad weekend, Queensland Reds probably want to forget Round 10 ever happened. Having jousted with the elite teams of the table all season, Reds’ push for the top took a nosedive after the Hurricanes stormed back from a 17-0 deficit to score the rest of the game’s points unanswered in a 30-17 victory. 

The collapse was a crushing blow to coach Brad Thorn’s men and a big boost for the Wellington-based Hurricanes, who now find themselves in the top half of the standings. Now, with three wins on the bounce and plenty of newfound momentum, Hurricanes will try to pull off a shock—and a statement—in Round 11 against the Brumbies. If Hurricanes wing Bailyn Sullivan and prop Tyrel Lomax (both of whom notched two tries in the win over the Reds) play to a level similar to Round 10, coach Jason Holland’s ’Canes could be this season’s late bloomers and a sudden disruptor to top teams.

COVID-19 Postpones Another Match

Just when it looked like competition was in the clear, the virus reared its ugly head yet again. The match scheduled between Western Force and Moana Pasifika for Round 10 was postponed due to COVID-related issues in the Force squad, an increase in cases since the Round 9 loss to the Waratahs, that forced both coaches and players into isolation. 

Though Moana Pasifika is having a tough run in their debut Super Rugby season, no one can claim that the team hasn’t been subject to some brutal luck. The postponement was Moana Pasifika’s fourth of the season due to virus issues, meaning that the squad hailing from Pacific islands has to go through yet another adjustment to its schedule this year. 

Without any further issues, the Force are scheduled to play the first-place Blues in Round 11, while Moana Pasifika goes up against the Melbourne Rebels. But as has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, a healthy team can be quickly derailed by COVID.sd

Blues Look To Keep Pace At Top

Blues are currently the outright leaders in Super Rugby Pacific, holding 36 points to the second place Brumbies’ 35 points. Blues did their part in the Trans-Tasman play of Round 10 with a comfortable 35-18 win over Fijian Drua, scoring a bonus point in the process to become the undisputed top of the table. 

Blues’ only defeat on the year was a one-point loss to the Hurricanes in Round 2. Since then, they've won their past eight games as Super Rugby’s highest-scoring (285 points) and most try-happy (38 tries) team. 

Though it seems little can stop coach Leon MacDonald’s squad at the moment, circumstances out of their control might pump the brakes on the Blues’ pace. The scheduled Round 11 matchup against Western Force is suddenly up in the air after the aforementioned COVID-19 issues on the Force roster kept them from playing last matchweek. 

If Force can go on and return for this upcoming weekend, however, they almost certainly won’t be fully-fit, making any points for the Perth-based club an uphill task. Blues will need every point they can get as they try to fend off challengers over the next few weeks. 

Crusaders Continue To Push

The Crusaders needed a pick-me-up result after their narrow four-point loss to the Blues in Round 9, and they got it through a straightforward 42-17 win over Melbourne Rebels in which the New Zealanders erupted for a 35-point second half. Five different players scored tries with All Blacks flanker Ethan Blackadder crossing the line twice, helping the Christchurch side to stay on-pace with Blues as they trail by three points, currently third in the Super Rugby Pacific table. 

While on the subject of pick-me-up wins, the Waratahs need one right now, too. New South Wales dropped to seventh in the table after letting the Chiefs drop 51 points on it in Round 10. Though the Tahs shouldn’t be in danger of missing the playoffs—barring a sudden, massive collapse—they do need a jump in morale after two defeats in four matches. 

Getting something against the Crusaders would be coming back in a big way, and with a capable attack that has scored 30 tries on the year, the Tahs certainly have the firepower to respond well. With the game scheduled to be held inside the Leichhardt Oval, as well, NSW has the advantage of home soil beneath its feet.

Super Rugby Pacific Schedule: Round 11

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

FRIDAY, APRIL 29

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

Force vs. Blues, 8 a.m.


SATURDAY, APRIL 30

Fijian Drua vs. Highlanders, 12:35 a.m.

Waratahs vs. Crusaders, 3:05 a.m.

Rebels vs. Moana Pasifika, 5:45 a.m.


SUNDAY, MAY 1

Brumbies vs. Hurricanes, 12:00 a.m. (Midnight)