Super Rugby 2019: Can the Blues halt the Hurricanes charge?

The inconsistent Blues could provide a stumbling block to the Hurricanes' hopes of topping the New Zealand Super Rugby conference.

Despite an atrocious away record in 2019, Leon MacDonald's side have beaten the Highlanders, Waratahs and Stormers at Eden Park this season, with their sole home loss coming in round one against the Crusaders.

But the Hurricanes arrive in Auckland in top form, having dispatched the Rebels, Chiefs, Sunwolves and Highlanders in a six-week stretch that has them ready to pounce on the Crusaders, should they fade in the home stretch.

Newshub rugby editor Ross Karl favours the Hurricanes, but is wary that anything could happen on Friday night, if John Plumtree's men bring their 'A' game.

"Being a Blues home game, I'd lean towards the Hurricanes by 12, but in saying that, they could just as easily cut this Blues side to ribbons and win by 30," he asserted.

A few hours later in Pretoria, the two-time defending champion Crusaders take on the Bulls on Saturday morning.

It's a bounce-back game for Scott Robertson's side, who were lucky to escape with a draw at home against the Sharks last weekend.

Newshub rugby reporter John Day believes a Crusaders win is likely, with the welcome return of playmaker Richie Mo'unga.

"With Mo'unga and Crotty back, and an underrated David Havilli back at fullback, I think they will get more direction than they had against the Sharks.

"I'd expect it'll back to normal this weekend for the Crusaders against a Bulls side that gave up 57 points against the Chiefs at the same venue."

Saturday evening sees an NZ conference doubleheader, with the Highlanders hosting the Jaguares and the Chiefs welcoming the Sharks to Hamilton.

Karl sees a win for the Highlanders, despite the loss of Ben Smith, but is having trouble making a call on the Sharks and Chiefs clash.

"They've [Chiefs] only had three wins this year. They are trying hard every week, but they make a lot of mistakes and their defensive line can get split open at times.

"They don't hold onto the ball for long periods, which means they can't build phases and that's a real struggle for them."

Day added: "It's desperation time for the Chiefs." 

But the bright side for rugby lovers is our two analysts believe this has been the best competition in recent memory.

"It's so close, with only the Sunwolves out of the running across the whole of Super Rugby," said Karl.

"It's making this the best Super Rugby competition I can remember. The closeness of each game is what we have always wanted and we are finally getting it - not a lot of blowouts."

Day agrees that below the Crusaders, it's literally anyone's game.


Join us for live updates of all your Super Rugby action this weekend 

Friday 7:30pm – Blues v Hurricanes
Saturday 5:10am – Bulls v Crusaders
Saturday 5:15pm – Highlanders v Jaguares
Saturday 7:35pm – Chiefs v Sharks