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Super Rugby: Reds unlikely to stop runaway Blues

Queensland Reds made a strong start to the Super Rugby Pacific season before suffering a run of three straight defeats and a major injury to one of their star performers is a big blow ahead of the visit of the Blues.

A 31-0 win over the Highlanders last time out seemed to have set them up nicely for the task of trying to prevent the Blues from making it eight wins from nine so far, but the loss of star centre Jordan Petaia to a shoulder injury is a massive blow.

Not only are the Blues putting wins on the board, they are doing so in style, having scored 143 points across their last three victories - smashing the Brumbies 46-7 on their last outing.

. What: Reds v Blues
. Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
. When: 20:35, Saturday 27th April 2024
. How to watch: Stan Sport
. Odds: Reds 3.75, Blues 1.28

Flook returns to replace stricken Petaia

Morale in the Blues camp would undoubtedly have taken a hit from three consecutive losses, but the brushing aside of the Highlanders last time out should have done them the world of good, especially as they zeroed their opponents.

However, centre Petaia lasted little over half an hour of that victory and is not likely to feature again this season as he requires surgery to fix his shoulder injury.

That big loss to Les Kiss' squad is slightly offset by the return of another centre, Josh Flook, following a shoulder problem of his own, while the Reds head coach has opted to make two other changes to his starting XV.

Angus Blyth comes in for Cormac Daly in the second row, while winger Mac Grealy is given a rest and Tim Ryan will make his first Super Rugby start in his place.

Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight are both ruled out as they are in the middle of three-match suspensions, with the Reds hoping to draw inspiration from success at home to the Blues in their most recent meetings.

In the last five meetings in Queensland, the hosts have gained two wins and a draw, with both of those victories coming by a single point and the Reds are 7.50 to win by a margin of 1-5 points on Saturday.

Blues going for six in a row

Blues head coach Vern Cotter has few worries at the moment, with his side in sparkling form, having won five matches in a row and put in some devastating attacking performances.

Cotter has opted to drop All Blacks winger Caleb Clarke to the bench as he is managing a calf problem, while Akira Ioane is absent from the squad heading to Brisbane as he is on paternity leave.

Halfbacks Stephen Perofeta (shoulder) and Finlay Christie (groin) remain on the sidelines, but Taufa Funaki and Harry Plummer have been doing a fine job in their absence, while AJ Lam takes over from Clarke.

Cotter told reporters: "We need to make sure we can get fast ball and if we can, I think we can create breaches and hopefully do enough damage to come away with the win."

The Blues have become only the third team in Super Rugby history to concede less than 10 points in four consecutive matches, while both Funaki and Hoskins Sotutu have scored three tries each in their last two appearances.

Scrumhalf Funaki is 3.75 to score a try at any time against the Reds, while he is 26.00 to score the first try of the match, with the visitors 7.00 to win by a margin of 16-20 points.

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