Planet Rugby

Preview: Highlanders v Reds

28th March 2013 06:46

Share:

Is this to be the week the Highlanders record their first win of Super Rugby 2013? The Reds will hope to postpone that occurrence in Dunedin on Friday.

Make no bones about it, the Highlanders are not a bottom of the table franchise and they will soon be climbing the conference after they stop this rot.

Four defeats out of four has made for horror reading for coach Jamie Joseph but the signs are definitely there that the first win is on the horizon.

Individual performances of Kade Poki (absent this week), Ben Smith, Hosea Gear and Elliot Dixon have been solid, but unfortunately the collective has struggled to put on a display to better the Chiefs (twice), Cheetahs and 'Canes. We just get a feeling though the Reds will be their first scalp.

Forsyth Barr Stadium needs to become a fortress if they are to revive their year and with only three home games scheduled until June the squad desperately needs to make this Friday count. They have a clutch of away fixtures approaching but should they turn the corner, all are winnable.

Team news sees the return of All Blacks Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock while the loss of Poki on the wing is cushioned by Buxton Popoali'i coming in. Promising youngster Jason Emery meanwhile is rewarded with his third successive start - he needs Ma'a Nonu to recapture his form to help him flourish.

The Reds are difficult to assess in that they seem to have lost their entertaining brand that thrilled the masses a few years ago. Instead they now adopt a more rigid gameplan that is apparent by the fact they've scored only 107 points in their six games, an average of 17.83.

The Highlanders, in contrast, like an open game so it will be interesting to see if the Reds come out of their shell in front of 'The Zoo' in Otago. They're also boosted by the return of an international as Liam Gill returns on the openside while James Horwill will again start.

Both teams need a win but for very different reasons. So will it be the hosts finally getting off the mark in Super Rugby 2013 or the Reds putting some pressure on the Brumbies?

Prediction: Fifth time lucky...the Highlanders by 5!

The teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Buxton Popoali'i, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn (c), 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 TJ Ioane, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Fumiaki Tanaka, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Phil Burleigh.

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Aidan Toua, 22 Rod Davies.

Date: Friday, March 29
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , July 26
Waratahs vs Brumbies19:40
Crusaders vs Sharks19:35
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , July 19
Brumbies 32 - 30 ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Report
Sharks 31 - 27 HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 12
Crusaders 34 - 8 HighlandersCrusaders vs Highlanders Report
Reds 3 - 34 WaratahsReds vs Waratahs Report
Lions 60 - 25 CheetahsLions vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 10 - 34 SharksStormers vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 11
Blues 8 - 11 ChiefsBlues vs Chiefs Report
Brumbies 47 - 25 Western ForceBrumbies vs Western Force Report
Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne RebelsBulls vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Sunday , July 6
Waratahs 44 - 16 HighlandersWaratahs vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 5
Crusaders 21 - 13 BluesCrusaders vs Blues Report
Western Force 30 - 20 RedsWestern Force vs Reds Report
Stormers 16 - 0 BullsStormers vs Bulls Report
Cheetahs 27 - 20 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 4
Chiefs 24 - 16 HurricanesChiefs vs Hurricanes Report
Lions 34 - 17 Melbourne RebelsLions vs Melbourne Rebels Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 28
South Africa 55 - 6 ScotlandSouth Africa vs Scotland Report
More International Match results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 16 - 9 CrusadersHurricanes vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 39 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Western Force 14 - 40 BluesWestern Force vs Blues Report
Friday , June 27
Highlanders 29 - 25 ChiefsHighlanders vs Chiefs Report
Melbourne Rebels 20 - 36 RedsMelbourne Rebels vs Reds Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 21
Australia 39 - 13 FranceAustralia vs France Report
South Africa 31 - 30 WalesSouth Africa vs Wales Report
New Zealand 36 - 13 EnglandNew Zealand vs England Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00