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Super Rugby: Crusaders need to respond in week two

Week two of the Super Rugby campaign will get underway on Friday night with six games spread over three days to look forward to.

The opening week got underway with wins for the Chiefs, Brumbies, Fijian Drua, the Blues, Hurricanes and Force and now all eyes turn to the next round of fixtures. It is of course very early days but each side will be keen to make a strong start to the season and some need a response from a disappointing opening week.

This week all eyes will be on Melbourne as every fixture will be played at AAMI Park. So let’s take a look at what is on the agenda over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Overview

The Crusaders lost the opening game of the season against the Chiefs and will need to respond when they take on the Highlanders in the opening game of week two on Friday night.

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In the other game on Friday night the Hurricanes will be looking to make it two wins from two when they travel to take on the Rebels. On Saturday Moana Pasifika face a tough test against the Chiefs, while Fijian Drua take on the Waratahs.

There are two games to wrap up week two on Sunday when the Blues face the Brumbies and the Force play the Reds.

Crusaders v Highlanders (Friday, 18:00 AEST)

The Crusaders are priced at 1.071 to beat the Highlanders, who can be backed at 8.00 and the home side have been boosted by the news that star All Black Sam Whitelock is set to return to the side.

However it is not all good news for the Crusaders who will be without the injured Cullen Grace and Fletcher Newell. The Highlanders will be without a trio of All Blacks in the form of Aaron Smith, Shannon Frizell and Ethan de Groot, while loose forward Marino Mikaele-Tu’u misses out with a rib injury that he picked up in the defeat to the Blues last week.

Rebels v Hurricanes (Friday, 20:10 AEST)

The Rebels will be out to bounce back from last week’s loss to the Western Force and are priced at 7.00 to do so. However the Hurricanes are the hot fancies at 1.10. Trevor Hosea is set to start for the Rebels and is one of two players to make their starting debuts.

Joe Pincus is the other and will start at fullback. Angelo Smith will also start. The Hurricanes romped to victory against the Reds last weekend but that is not stopping coach Jason Holland from making three changes to his side.

Tyrel Lomax, Brayden Iose and Du’Plessis Kirifi have all been named in the starting side.

Moana Pasifika v Chiefs (Saturday 17:05 AEST)

Moana Pasifika are priced at 11.00 to pull off a big upset against the Chiefs, who can be backed at 1.03. These two sides have met on two previous occasions and each time the Chiefs have romped to convincing wins.

They won both by an average of 40 points. The Chiefs to win by 36-40 points can be backed at 9.00. However Moana Pasifika are showing signs of improvement and are starting to get more points on the board as they showed in the narrow 34-36 loss to Fijian Drua in week one. The team line-ups have yet to be confirmed.

Fijian Drua v Waratahs (Saturday 19:35 AEST)

The Drua are out to pick up back-to-back wins in Super Rugby for the first time and are priced at 3.10 to get the victory with the Tahs priced at 1.38.

The teams have yet to be confirmed but Drua head coach Mick Byrne has described the Waratahs as one of the most physical sides in the competition. With that in mind he is likely to pick his most physical team.

These two sides have met on two occasions previously with the Tahs winning both of them by over 24 points but it looks as though Saturday’s clash could be closer. The Tahs have an extensive injury list and need to bounce back following a defeat to the Brumbies last week.

Blues v Brumbies (Sunday 14:00 AEST)

The Blues have the sign over the Brumbies going off recent meetings. Indeed they have won six of the last seven and are priced at 1.22 to pick up another win. The Brumbies can be backed at 4.20. Saying that the last two games have been very close indeed with the Blues edging them by the odd point.

Both sides go into the game on back of wins last week so confidence should be high in each camp.

Force v Reds (Sunday 16:30 AEST)

The Force have won their last three games in Super Rugby and can be backed at 2.80 to get number four against the Reds who are 1.44. However they have a couple of things going against them.

Their record outside of Perth is not great having won just three of the last 16 games away from WA. Also the Reds have won four of the last five meetings between the two sides. The teams have yet to be confirmed.

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