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Super Rugby Preview Round 14: line-ups, team news, tips

Super Rugby Round 14 kicks off with an all-Kiwi clash between the Blues and Chiefs, while the Waratahs will look to end a run of losses for Australian teams in New Zealand when they face the Highlanders.

Friday, May 26

Blues ($2.60) v Chiefs ($1.50), Eden Park, Auckland 5:35pm (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Chiefs have won their last 11 games in a row against the Blues, though those wins have come by an average margin of just eight points.

Line-ups

Blues: Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, George Moala, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Piers Francis, Augustine Pulu, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Steven Luatua, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons (capt), Ofa Tu'ungafasi. Replacements: Epalahame Faiva, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Stephen Perofeta, TJ Faiane.

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Johnny Fa'auli, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam, Sam Cane (co-c), Mitchell Brown, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames. Replacements: Hika Elliot, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Atu Moli, Taleni Seu, Lachlan Boshier, Jonathan Taumateine, Solomon Alaimalo, Shaun Stevenson.

Team News

The Blues have made two changes to the side beaten by the Stormers while fly-half Piers Francis has been cleared to play following a head knock. The changes are split one apiece between the backs and forwards with Michael Collins returning at fullback and All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu coming into the second-row.

Hit by a string of concussions, the Chiefs have made three changes for the local derby with the Blues. In the backs, Johnny Fa'auli comes in at No.12 with Anton Lienert-Brown moving to outside centre and Tim Nanai-Williams to the wing. Up front, Liam Messam replaces the resting Michael Leitch at No.8.

UBET verdict: Chiefs have won the last 11 against the Blues. The Blues return from a loss to the Stormers, while the Chiefs went down by seven to the unbeaten Crusaders. The Blues are all but out of it, and the Chiefs need to win to stay in the finals race.

Tips: Greg Growden - Chiefs, Sam Bruce - Blues

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Queensland Reds ($1.40) v Western Force ($2.95), Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 7:45pm (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

Five of the last eight Australian derbies played on a Friday night have been won by the away team on the day.

Line-ups

Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Chris Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi (capt), Duncan Paia'aua, Eto Nabuli, Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby, Scott Higginbotham, George Smith, Hendrik Tui, Lukhan Tui, Rob Simmons, Sam Talakai, Stephen Moore, Sef Fa'agase. Reserves: Alex Mafi, Kirwan Sanday, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Adam Korczyk, James Tuttle, Jake McIntyre, Lachlan Maranta.

Force: Marcel Brache, James Verity-Amm, Curtis Rona, Bill Meakes, Alex Newsome, Peter Grant, Michael Ruru, Isireli Naisarani, Matt Hodgson (C), Ross Haylett-Petty, Adam Coleman, Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Heath Tessmann, Francois van Wyk. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Richie Arnold, Richard Hardwick, Mitchell Short, Luke Burton, Luke Morahan

Team News

There is just one change to the Reds side that lost to the Chiefs two weeks ago with Chris Kuridrani replacing Campbell Magnay on the right wing. Queensland had the bye in Round 13.

The Force have made several changes to their line-up for this week, with Francois van Wyk and Heath Tessmann returning to the starting front row as Pek Cowan and Tatafu Polota-Nau take a seat on the bench. Matt Philip comes into the starting second row with Michael Ruru starting at scrumhalf. James Verity-Amm will start on the right wing, with Marcel Brache returning from concussion at fullback.

UBET verdict: While they are the outsiders here, the Force have won four of the last six against the Reds including the last two matches. Both sides leak points, so could be a high scoreline. Punters are with the Reds here.

Tips: Greg Growden - Reds, Sam Bruce - Reds

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Saturday May 27

Sunwolves ($2.05) v Cheetahs ($1.77), Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo at 3:15PM (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Cheetahs have lost their last nine games in succession, their longest ever losing streak within a single season; the last and only time they lost more games in a row was a 12-game stretch from 2008 to 2009.

Line-ups

Sunwolves: Kotaro Matsushima, Takaaki Nakazuru, Derek Carpenter, Harumichi Tatekawa, Shota Emi, Yu Tamura, Fumiaki Tanaka; Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, Shuhei Matsuhashi, Malgene Ilaua, Sam Wykes, Kotaro Yatabe, Takuma Asahara, Yusuke Niwai, Keita Inagaki. Replacements: Takeshi Hino, Koki Yamamoto, Yasuo Yamaji, Hitoshi Ono, Shokei Kin, Keisuke Uchida, Jumpei Ogura, William Tupou.

Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Sergeal Petersen, William Small-Smith, Clinton Swart, Raymond Rhule, Niel Marais, Shaun Venter, Henco Venter, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem, Carl Wegner, Armandt Koster, Johan Coetzee, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Ox Nche. Replacements: Elandré Huggett, Charles Marais, Tom Botha, Francois Uys, Niell Jordaan, Tian Meyer, Junior Pokomela, Fred Zeilinga.

Team News

Sunwolves coach Filo Tiatia has been forced into a number of changes but the return of Fumiaki Tanaka and Yu Tamura in the halves is a major boost. Elsewhere in the backs, Derek Carpenter gets a start at outside centre while Shota Emi moves to the left wing to accommodate Takaaki Nakazuru.

Torsten van Jaarsveld will captain the Cheetahs from hooker this week while Niel Marais is promoted to fly-half ahead of Fred Zeilinga.

UBET verdict: The Cheetahs have won all three matches against the Sunwolves (by 7,1 and 75!), and in this matchup we have the two worst defensive sides in the competition. Should be a high-scoring affair, and on recent form, Sunwolves capable of getting a win here.

Tip: Greg Growden - Cheetahs, Sam Bruce - Cheetahs

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Highlanders ($1.12) v NSW Waratahs ($6.25), Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 5:35pm (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Waratahs haven't won at Dunedin since Round 3, 2008, losing three consecutive games to the Highlanders since that fixture.

Line-ups

Highlanders: Ben Smith (co-capt), Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Richard Buckman, Tevita Li, Marty Banks, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Dillon Hunt, Elliot Dixon, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli. Replacements: Ash Dixon (co-capt), Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Joe Wheeler, Gareth Evans, Kayne Hammington, Lima Sopoaga, Rob Thompson.

Waratahs: Israel Folau, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Rob Horne, David Horwitz, Cam Clark, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu. Tom Robertson. Reserves: Damien Fitzpatrick, Paddy Ryan, Angus Taavao, David McDuling, Jed Holloway, Jake Gordon, Bryce Hegarty, Irae Simone.

Team News

The Highlanders have one huge inclusion this week with superstar fullback and captain Ben Smith returning after an injury layoff. Elsewhere, Waisake Naholo is back on the right wing after a one-game suspension while Luke Whitelock's return from injury at No.8 pushes Elliot Dixon to blindside. Lima Sopoaga again starts from the bench.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has named an unchanged 23 to face the Highlanders. It is the first time he has been able to do so all season.

UBET verdict: The Highlanders haven't lost to an Aussie side in over a year, and the betting says they are likely to maintain that record here. The Highlanders have been the big improvers during the back end of the season, and are right in the mix at $8.00 to win the title now.

Tips: Greg Growden - Highlanders, Sam Bruce - Highlanders

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Melbourne Rebels ($12) v Crusaders ($1.03), AAMI Park, Melbourne at 7:45PM (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Crusaders have emerged victorious from each of their last five visits to Australia; at no point in Super Rugby history have they enjoyed a longer streak in the nation.

Line-ups

Rebels: Ben Volavola, Sefa Naivalu, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Nic Stirzaker (c), Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, Steve Cummins, Tyrel Lomax, James Hanson, Toby Smith. Replacements: Siliva Siliva, Fereti Sa'aga, Laurie Weeks, Culum Retallick, Hugh Sinclair, Ben Meehan, 22 Mitch Inman, Jonah Placid.

Crusaders: David Havili‚Äč, Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu, Tim Bateman, Manasa Mataele, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Pete Samu, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (captain), Quinten Strange, Michael Alaalatoa, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody, Oli Jager, Luke Romano, Jed Brown, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge

Team News

The Rebels will be boosted by the return of skipper Nic Stirzaker at half-back while Sefa Naivalu and Tom English are also restored to the backline. Up front, Colby Fainga'a returns meaning Amanaki Mafi moves to No.8 with Sean McMahon on the blindside and Lopeti Timani reverting to lock.

The Crusaders have switched things up for the trip to Melbourne, but Saturday night will herald the return of Israel Dagg. The All Blacks star has been included on the right wing with Seta Tamnivalu shifting to outside centre and Tim Bateman replacing Ryan Crotty at inside centre. Matt Todd again misses while there is an all-new front-row of Wyatt Crockett, Ben Funnell and Michael Alaalatoa.

UBET verdict: This fixture last year saw a rampaging Crusaders side win 85-26, running in 13 tries. The Crusaders are still unbeaten, and are $1.03 to continue that sequence. The line of -24.5 points ($1.90) has seen early support for the Crusaders as well.

Tips: Greg Growden - Crusaders, Sam Bruce - Crusaders

Greg Growden's video preview

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Bulls ($6) v Hurricanes ($1.13), Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria at 11:05PM (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Hurricanes have gained 555 metres per game this season, the most of any team in the competition and one of only two teams to average more than half a kilometre per match (also Crusaders).

Line-ups

Bulls: Warrick Gelant, Jade Stighling, Jan Serfontein, Burger Odendaal, Jesse Kriel, Tiaan Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg (c),Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins, Jacobie Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman, Coenraad van Vuuren, Abongile Nonkontwana, Nic de Jager, Ivan van Zyl, Tony Jantjies, Ulrich Beyers.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Sam Lousi, Mark Abbott, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Loni Uhila. Replacements: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Ben May, Reed Prinsep, Callum Gibbins, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Ben Lam.

Team News

The Bulls welcome back Springboks hooker Adriaan Strauss this week while in the backs, Jesse Kriel has been shifted to the wing to accommodate the return of Warrick Gelant at fullback.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd has reverted to his strongest backline with Beauden Barrett returning to No.10 and younger brother Jordie moving from the bench to fullback. Up front, there is a start for Vaea Fifita at blindside with Brad Shields at No.8 and Ardie Savea at openside. Cult hero Loni Uhila is also back in the run-on side, as is experienced lock Mark Abbott.

UBET verdict: The Hurricanes only two losses this season have been away from home, but they are another of those sides looking to consolidate their spot in the finals, so will be looking for a win, and bonus points as well.

Tips: Greg Growden - Hurricanes, Sam Bruce - Hurricanes

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Sunday May 21

Sharks ($1.77) v Stormers ($2.05), Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 1:15AM (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Sharks are undefeated in their last nine games on home turf (W8, D1), having conceded an average of just 13 points per game across that period.

Line-ups

Sharks: Lwazi Mvovo, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Johan Deysel, S'busiso Nkosi, Garth April, Cobus Reinach, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Philip van der Walt (c), Stephan Lewies, Ruan Botha, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Franco Marais, Beast Mtawarira, Lourens Adriaanse, Etienne Oosthuizen, Tera Mtembu, Rowan Gouws, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, S'bura Sithole.

Stormers: SP Marais, Cheslin Kolbe, EW Viljoen, Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds, Kurt Coleman, Jano Vermaak, Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi (c), Kobus van Dyk, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble. Replacements: Ramone Samuels, Ali Vermaak, Wilco Louw, Chris van Zyl, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dewaldt Duvenage, Juan de Jongh, Seabelo Senatla.

Team News

The Sharks have made just one change with Coenie Oosthuizen returning at tighthead prop.

The Stormers will field a new halves pairing this week with Jano Vermaak and Kurt Coleman starting at scrum- and fly-half respectively. Damian de Allende is fast-tracked back into the centres with Shaun Treeby serving a four-week suspension.

UBET verdict: The last six matches between these two sides has seen three wins apiece. The Sharks are unbeaten at home this season while the Stormers have lost three games away from home in a row. That gives slight favouritism to the Sharks.

Tip: Greg Growden - Stormers, Sam Bruce - Sharks

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Jaguares ($1.53) v Brumbies ($2.50), Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires 7:40AM (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Jaguares average 29 points scored per game at home in their Super Rugby history, seven points per game more than they average when playing away from home.

Line-ups

Jaguares: Joaquin Tuculet, Ramiro Moyano, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Bautista Ezcurra, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo, Leonardo Senatore, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Lezana, Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Ramiro Herrera, Agustin Creevy, Lucas Noguera. Replacements: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Pieretto, GUido Petti, Javier Ortega Desio, Gonzalo Bertranou, Juan Martin Hernandez, Matias Moroni.

Brumbies: Tom Banks, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, Aidan Toua, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jordan Smiler, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter (capt), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Ben Alexander. Res: Robbie Abel, Nic Mayhew, Leslie Leuluaiali-Makin, Blake Enever, Jarrad Butler, De Wet Roos, Andrew Muirhead, Andrew Smith.

Team News

Nicolas Sanchez is the big inclusion for the Jaguares this week, the Pumas No.10 returning at fly-half in place of Juan Martin Hernandez. There is also a start for Ramiro Moyano on the wing while Leonardo Senatore (No.8) and Tomas Lavanini are also restored to the run-on side.

The Brumbies will field an unchanged side to the one that defeated the Kings in Port Elizabeth last weekend.

UBET verdict: Neither side here is in sparkling form with the Jaguares having won one of their last six games, and the Brumbies not much better with one win from their last five. The Brumbies have also struggled to score in away games ((19 points average) but they can still top the Australian conference, so plenty at stake for them here. Been early money for them even though they are the outsiders.

Tips: Greg Growden - Jaguares, Sam Bruce - Brumbies

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Lions ($1.04) v Kings ($10), Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg 10:30PM (AEST)

Key stat (Opta Stats)

The Lions have won nine games on the bounce; the last and only time any South African team has won more games in succession was a 12-game winning streak for the Bulls across the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.

Line-ups

Lions: TBC

Kings: TBC

Team news:

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UBET verdict: The Lions are on a roll with nine wins in a row and come off a 51-14 thumping of the Bulls last week. The Kings have been going OK against the bottom tier sides, but all points towards them being on the end of a decent loss here.

Tips: Greg Growden - Lions, Sam Bruce - Lions

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