Super Rugby Pacific 2024: Round 9 line-ups, predictions, odds

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The final bye round of Super Rugby Pacific is upon us, meaning this weekend's fixtures will be the last time we see just four regular season games contested.

Round 9 is highlighted by the Hurricanes' date with the Drua, with the ladder-leaders facing arguably the biggest threat to their unbeaten record this season given how tough road games are in Fiji.

Check out all the team lists, key ins and outs, odds and our tips below.

Friday, April 19

Fijian Drua vs.


HBF Bank Stadium, Suva, 5:05pm [AEST]

Drua: Ilaisa Droasese, Selestino Ravutaumada, Iosefo Masi, Kemu Valetini, Epeli Momo, Isikeli Rabitu, Simione Kuruvoli; Elia Canakaivata, Kitione Salawa, Vilive Miramira, Leone Rotuisolia, Isoa Nasilasila, Mesake Doge, Tevita Ikanivere (c), Haereiti Hetet.

Replacements: Zuriel Togiatama, Livai Natave, Samu Tawake, Mesake Vocevoce, Meli Derenalagi, Peni Matawalu, Michael Naitokani, Junior Ratuva

Hurricanes: Josh Moorby, Kini Naholo, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Aidan Morgan, TJ Perenara; Devan Flanders, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Brad Shields, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Ben Grant, Pasilio Tosi, James O'Reilly, Tevita Mafileo.

Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia, Siale Lauaki, Caleb Delany, Peter Lakai, Richard Judd, Ruben Love, Bailyn Sullivan

Odds [tab.com.au]: Drua $3.70, +10.5 $1.90; Hurricanes $1.25, -10.5 $1.85

Prediction: Is the biggest test of the Hurricanes' season yet? Unbeaten through seven games, Clark Laidlaw's side has established itself as the team to beat, though this game looms as a banana skin. The Canes were pipped at the post last year in Fiji and while the Drua have lost a couple of key players through suspension, they are always far tougher prospect at home. But after seeing off the Chiefs last week, the Canes are brimming with confidence. Laidlaw has shuffled his starting side so that he will get a strong injection off the bench, which will be crucial in the sweaty conditions. Look for Asafa Aumua and Peter Lakai to assert themselves on this contest, and for Ruben Love to pull the strings, when the trio is introduced in the second half.

Tip: Hurricanes by 7.


Queensland Reds vs.


Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 7:35pm [AEST]

Reds: Jock Campbell, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Mac Grealy, Tom Lynagh, Kalani Thomas; Harry Wilson, John Bryant, Liam Wright, Ryan Smith, Cormac Daly, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Matt Faessler, Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: Josh Nasser, Peni Ravai, Sef Fa'agase, Angus Blyth, Joe Brial, Louis Werchon, Lawson Creighton, Tim Ryan.

Highlanders: Connor Garden-Bachop, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Taniela Tele'a, Sam Gilbert, Jona Nareki, Cameron Millar, James Arscott; Billy Harmon, Sean Withy, Oliver Haig, Pari Pari Parkinson, Hugo Plummer, Saula Ma'u. Ricky Jackson, Ethan de Groot.

Replacements: Henry Bell, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Rohan Wingham, Will Stodart, Nikora Broughton, Folau Fakatava, Ajay Faleafaga, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.

Odds: [tab.com.au] Reds $1.40, -6.5 $1.87; Highlanders $2.80, +6.5 $1.85

Verdict: Just a few weeks ago, both these teams would have had designs on a top-four finish after promising starts to the season. But things have since deteriorated and they both may find themselves in a scramble for a top-eight position. It hasn't been a good week for the Reds already after Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight were handed three-week bans for a swinging arm and high tackle following the respective incidents against Moana last week. McReight's loss is particularly brutal for Queensland, with the Wallabies No. 7 one of the standout Australian players of 2024. His place has been taken by the little-known John Bryant, while Kalani Thomas finally gets the chance to start at No. 9 having played second-fiddle to McDermott for so long. The Reds have dropped three straight, while the Highlanders' losing streak extends one game further following last week's poor showing against the Rebels. Coach Clarke Dermody has responded to that defeat with a series of changes, the biggest of which sees a new halves pairing of James Arscott and Cameron Millar; Pari Pari Parkinson will meanwhile make a welcomed return. The corresponding fixture was a tight one in Dunedin last year and another tense affair looms on Friday, though Queensland might just be too strong on home soil.

Tip: Reds by 3.

Saturday, April 20

Blues vs.

ACT Brumbies

Eden Park, Auckland, 5:05pm [AEST]

Blues: Cole Forbes, Mark Tele'a, Rieko Ioane, Bryce Heem, Caleb Clarke, Harry Plummer, Taufa Funaki; Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali'i, Akira Ioane, Laghlan McWhannell, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Marcel Renata, Ricky Riccitelli, Ofa Tu'ungafasi

Replacements: Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu'a, Angus Ta'avao, Sam Darry, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Lucas Cashmore, AJ Lam.

Brumbies: Tom Wright, Ollie Sapsford, Hudson Creighton, Tamati Tua, Corey Toole, Noah Lolesio, Ryan Lonergan; Charlie Cale, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Sefo Kautai, Billy Pollard, James Slipper.

Replacements: Connal McInerney, Blake Schoupp, Rhys van Nek, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Harrison Goddard, Jack Debreczeni.

Odds: [tab.com.au] Blues $1.17, -11.5 $1.87; Brumbies $4.60, +11.5 $1.87

Verdict: The clear game of the round, the interest in this clash extends beyond Super Rugby Pacific into the Test arena, with Australia wanting to see results against the Aucklanders and the Hurricanes before they get too carried away with an uplift in trans-Tasman results. The Brumbies were unlucky to see their campaign finish in Auckland two years ago, when only a late non-Ben O'Keeffe call denied them a drought-breaking playoff win across the ditch. They got revenge, of sorts, at Super Round last year, but will know they will need to be near their very best to win at Eden Park. Like his Hurricanes counterpart, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is also looking for a big second-half injection from the bench, naming a 6-2 split that features in-form forwards Nick Frost, Tom Hooper and Luke Reimer. The Blues meanwhile have named an imposing pack, headlined by their world-class back-row, while Harry Plummer wears the No. 10 jersey in the absence of Stephen Perofeta. If the Brumbies are able to achieve parity up front, and limit the time and space Mark Tele'a gets out wide, then they will be right in this contest. And if not now, then when? ACT know the value of a home semifinal, it's likely they need to win at least one of their games against the Hurricanes and Blues to get it.

Tip: Blues by 2.

Western Force vs.


HBF Park, Perth, 7:35pm [AEST]

Force: Kurtley Beale, Bayley Kuenzle, Sam Spink, Hamish Stewart, Chase Tiatia, Ben Donaldson, Nic White; Reed Prinsep, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Tom Franklin, Sam Carter, Santiago Medrano, Tom Horton, Ryan Coxon

Replacements: Ben Funnell, Marley Pearce, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Izack Rodda, Michael Wells, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Max Burey, Henry O'Donnell

Crusaders: Chay Fihaki, Sevu Reece, Levi Aumua, Dallas McLeod, Macca Springer, Riley Hohepa, Mitchell Drummond; Christian Lio-Willie, Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Jamie Hannah, Quinten Strange, Owen Franks, Brodie McAlister, Joe Moody.

Replacements: George Bell, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Dom Gardiner, Cullen Grace, Noah Hotham, Rivez Reihana, Ryan Crotty.

Odds: [tab.com.au] Force $5.50, +14.5 $1.87; Crusaders $1.13, -14.5 $1.87

Verdict: There is one chapter to be written in the Kurtley Beale story yet, with the veteran Wallabies back named to make his Western Force debut at fullback. Beale's inclusion gives the Force another attacking threat -- something they have never been flush with -- while it is pleasing to see Izack Rodda also included on the bench. Rodda has been riddled by injury the three years and hopefully Saturday's game will be the first of many he strings together. Fresh off the bye, the Force know their finals hopes are fast slipping away, and with some tougher games looming on their run home, this is very nearly a must-win. The Crusaders, meanwhile, must still be wondering how the hell they lost last week in Sydney, having been a matter of seconds from victory. Rob Penney's side shipped 43 points in that golden-point defeat, such feeble defence will no doubt have been a focus for the coach this week. Look for the Crusaders to use their scrum to establish control of this match and limit what impact Beale might be able to assert on his return. If the Force can however find something at the set-piece, they have shown a more complete style under Simon Cron to suggest a win is not beyond them.

Tip: Crusaders by 5.