2022 Melbourne Rebels vs Blues

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Blues Winning Ways Continue

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Blues Winning Ways Continue

If the Blues could win all four of their remaining matches before qualifiers, it would break a team record set in 1997 of 12 consecutive wins.

May 4, 2022 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Blues Winning Ways Continue

For Super Rugby Pacific, now is when the real fun begins.

The final full month of the competition, before the all-important qualifying phase, will officially get under way this coming weekend. The Trans-Tasman portion of the schedule continues to kick into high gear and there’s plenty of scores to settle on top of it all.

With the current top five in the standings separated by nine points or less, top of the table is far from decided despite some favorites on paper. But as rivalries are renewed and the pressure mounts, some will rise above—or fall.

Here’s all the information you need headed into this weekend, including a recap of Round 11 and a preview of Round 12.

NOTE: All statistics are updated from the conclusion of Round 11’s matches.

Nail-biters Aplenty

If Round 11 was the moment you chose to catch up on the Super Rugby Pacific season, congratulations. Nearly every match on the weekend was a thriller, with five of six games decided by a try or less. No matter where a team was located on the table entering the matchweek, it seemed like no one was safe. 

Perhaps most notably, league leaders Blues upped their winning streak to nine straight games—but only just—as a Western Force team who hadn’t played in nearly two weeks almost completed a second-half comeback for the ages. 

Elsewhere, Chiefs notched its third consecutive victory in a 27-25 triumph over Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels held off Moana Pasifika in a 26-22 win and Highlanders spoiled a strong effort from the Fijian Drua team, who had their first-ever match in Fiji. The 27-24 result was in front of over 15,000 fans at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

Waratahs Pull Off Shock

Noticed that there was one additional thriller missing from the aforementioned list? That was Waratahs’ stunning 24-21 win over the Crusaders—the Tahs’ first victory over a New Zealand side in three years—in front of a raucous crowd at the Leichhardt Oval. 

On the flip side, it was just the Christchurch team’s second defeat from an Australian opponent in its past 27 matches, and though Crusaders were shorthanded, as four All Blacks on the squad were rested (including one of their top stars, five-eighth Richie Mo’unga), it didn’t take away from the stunning rugby the Tahs played all night in Lilyfield. 

Dylan Pietsch’s first-minute try set the tone, while wing mate Mark Nawaqanitawase crossed the line shortly. The Waratahs led 14-0 after 10 minutes, a lead they would never lose. Now sixth in the table with a winnable match against Moana Pasifika coming in Round 12, this past weekend could’ve been the start of something big for coach Darren Coleman’s men.

Chiefs Move Into Top Four

Blues undoubtedly still have the best form of any team in Super Rugby Pacific, but quietly the Chiefs have been following right along. Chiefs followed up their Round 10 destruction of the Tahs with another win this matchweek against the Reds. That makes for three wins on the bounce for the Hamilton side and a run of form that’s seen the team leapfrog into fourth in the table—passing Reds in the process. 

The Chiefs have averaged 41 points per game over their past three matches and have over 100 carries more than the next-highest Super Rugby team (plus top or near-top numbers in numerous offensive statistical categories), flinging themselves into title contention with a ruthless aggression and pace that many teams have found difficult to stop. Second-placed Brumbies will get the chance to test their defense against the unit in Round 12, a meeting that will have vital seeding implications ahead of the qualifiers.

Can Blues Keep Record Pace Up?

There is still a long, long way to go before the Blues can claim themselves to be one of the most consistent teams in Super Rugby history, but with the final month before the qualifiers now underway, the end goal is now in sight. 

If the Blues could win all four of their remaining matches before qualifiers, it would break a team record set in 1997 of 12 consecutive wins—that year the Auckland team would win one of its three Super Rugby titles to date. 

The Trans-Tasman period has been unblemished thus far for the squad, with Blues beating Drua in Round 10 before just skating by Western Force this past weekend. But, Australia’s mightiest sides have yet to come out to play. Blues should be favored against Melbourne Rebels this weekend, but a three-match onslaught to end the regular season of Reds, Brumbies and Waratahs should prep coach Leon MacDonald’s team for what’s sure to be an intense postseason. 

Drua Tries Valiantly For Points

Round 11 had so much promise for Fijian Drua, finally getting able to play in their home nation after months of toiling across other cities and lands in its first Super Rugby Pacific season. The Fijians even had a well-established lead against the Highlanders for much of the match but the Kiwi side spoiled the party in Suva. 

The win meant 10th-placed Highlanders increased its lead on 11th-placed Drua to six points, leaving the Fijians eight points behind the top eight—and qualifiers’ places—with just four matches remaining. 

Time is running out, which means Drua’s Round 12 meeting with the Hurricanes (currently in seventh but nine points clear of eighth-placed Rebels) is a must-win meeting. However, a win hasn’t come in some time—since Round 3—for coach Mick Byrne’s team despite spirited performances, so if there’s any sudden burst that’ll make the Fijians fly up the table, it needs to come soon.

Super Rugby Pacific Schedule: Round 12

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

FRIDAY, MAY 6

Blues vs. Rebels, 3:05 a.m.

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


SATURDAY, MAY 7

Moana Pasifika vs. Waratahs, 12:35 a.m.

Chiefs vs. Brumbies, 3:05 a.m.

Western Force vs. Crusaders, 5:45 a.m.

Hurricanes vs. Fijian Drua, 11:35 p.m.