2022 Queensland Reds vs Blues

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Furious Slate Before Qualifiers

Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Furious Slate Before Qualifiers

The Brumbies-Crusaders match headlines a treacherous schedule of games this weekend, with much to play for.

May 9, 2022 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific Preview: Furious Slate Before Qualifiers

Time is running out for a lot of teams in Super Rugby Pacific.

Whether securing a home playoff game or just getting to the postseason, almost every team in the competition is fighting for something. And with a schedule full of enticing games that often have squads with something to lose, few are safe going into the final weeks before the all-important qualifiers. 

But it also makes for some exciting rugby.

Here are the storylines both from the past matchweek and looking ahead to this weekend’s games, which can be streamed live the rest of the season on FloRugby.

Blues Flirt With Record Scoring Day

It was never really a question if the table-topping Blues were going to get past Melbourne Rebels on Friday, but rather by how much. Turns out it was a lot. Not only was the Auckland side just four points shy of surpassing a 24-year-old team record for single-match scoring in a 71-28 shellacking over the playoff-hungry Rebels, but the Blues did it without All Blacks superstar Beauden Barrett—who was rested. The notched their 10th consecutive victory, the franchise’s longest since winning 12 in a row in 1997. 

Back-rower Rieko Ioane terrorized the Melbourne back line on his way to a hat-trick as he and No. 10 Stephen Perofeta (eight conversions, one try) outscored the Rebels on their own with 36 combined points. With three rounds remaining until the qualifiers, coach Leon MacDonald’s squad has hit a crossroads: Do the Blues push for a top seed in the postseason (second-placed Brumbies are two points behind) or play it safe and keep the stars rested for the elimination rounds? 

Reds’ Kiwi Misery Continues

No matter which New Zealand team shares the field with Queensland Reds, something always seems to go wrong for the Brisbanites. The Reds made it two wins from 25 games against Kiwi opposition with a 27-19 loss to Highlanders—who themselves got a massive result in their push for the top eight—despite leading 12-0 at one point before the late collapse. 

What’s worse for Queensland, the loss opened the door for the Waratahs and Chiefs to pull ahead and overtake them in the race for the top four, which guarantees a home final in the postseason. At just a point back of the two squads, the deficit is far from insurmountable, but the Reds have dates with Blues and Crusaders in the final two weeks. It makes a win (and bonus points) against last-placed Moana Pasifika in Round 14 that much more critical.

Brumbies’ Vital Two-Game Run

Undoubtedly the top Aussie team in the competition this year, the Brumbies have often been the only squad throughout the year that has shown they can hold a candle to the Blues. But if coach Dan McKellar’s team wants to be the best, it’s got to beat the best—and there’s no better time to prove that then in the next two weeks. 

The Canberra side plays its two top-three rivals (Crusaders and Blues) in back-to-back rounds, but critically gets to host both squads at home inside the GIO Stadium. Before a showdown with the Blues that could decide the No. 1 seed headed into the qualifiers, the Brumbies must not overlook the 10-time Super Rugby champion Crusaders, who rolled over Western Force 53-15 in Round 12. Leicester Fainga’anuku and Will Jordan both scored hat-tricks in that match, with the Tongan-born Fainga’anuku overtaking first place among highest try scorers (nine) in this year’s Super Rugby season.

Pacific Squads Meet

In April of last year, Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua made history as the two were jointly announced to have been granted conditional licenses by New Zealand Rugby to join a new professional competition (later confirmed to be Super Rugby Pacific) and help give the Pacific islands representation on one of rugby’s biggest stages. 

Thirteen months later, those two teams will meet each other on the field for the first time. The match scheduled for Round 13 between them means little regarding sstandings—bothsquads are essentially eliminated from the qualifiers—but is a monumental occasion for rugby in the Pacific and a sign that its mark is being made across the globe. It’ll be a historic moment this weekend at the Western Sydney Stadium—and likely an emotionally-charged, fiery rugby match.

The Race To Top Eight

The top seven teams in the current Super Rugby standings (as of the end of Round 12) are almost set in stone, with seventh-placed Hurricanes 14 points clear of the drop zone with three matchweeks remaining. 

However, the eighth spot is going to be a fight to the finish. Highlanders, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force are separated by just three points for the final slot, with Highlanders’ upset win over Queensland Reds helping them leapfrog their opposition and cap off three wins in five games following six straight defeats to begin the year. 

The Dunedin club plays Western Force in Round 13—with Melbourne taking on the Chiefs—then plays Rebels on the final day in Round 15. No matter which team snags the coveted final playoff slot, it would be a historic occasion: Highlanders would continue a franchise-best seven-season playoff streak (not counting 2020 or 2021), while both the Rebels and Force would qualify for their first postseasons in team history, not counting the COVID-caused regional competitions. 

Super Rugby Pacific Schedule: Round 13

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

FRIDAY, MAY 13

Highlanders vs. Force, 3:05 a.m.

Brumbies vs. Crusaders, 5:45 a.m.


SATURDAY, MAY 14

Moana Pasifika vs. Fijian Drua, 12:35 a.m.

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

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


SUNDAY, MAY 15

Rebels vs. Chiefs, midnight