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Recap: Super Round Day One blog

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Defending champions the Crusaders will be out for revenge in round two as they take on rivals the Highlanders in the opening match of Super Round at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

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All 12 Super Rugby teams will play at the one venue across the next three nights, starting with the highly anticipated South Island blockbuster.

Ahead of the new Super Rugby Pacific season, the Crusaders were heavily favoured to claim yet another title under coach Scott Robertson.

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After winning six titles in as many years, few would dare bet against the Super Rugby powerhouse – although rival rivals would’ve optimistically hoped for change.

Playing the Chiefs in their first New Zealand derby of the year last Friday, the legendary franchise raced out to a 10-nil lead at home.

But that’s when disaster struck.

Led by star playmaker Damian McKenzie and All Blacks centurion Brodie Retallick, the Chiefs went on to claim a 31-10 win at Christchurch’s Orangetheory Stadium.

Eager to bounce back, the Crusaders have named a strong side for their second consecutive Friday night clash.

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All Blacks great Sam Whitelock has been named to return after missing last weekend’s opener because of a concussion.

“It’s great to have him back around the group,” Scott Robertson said in a statement.

“14 years’ experience – we all know how important he is for us.”

Utility back David Havili is the major positional change in the backline, having moved from fullback to inside centre. Havili will partner Jack Goodhue in the midfield.

As for their opponents, they also have a point to prove tonight. The Highlanders started their season with a disastrous 60-20 loss at home to the Blues.

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The team from the south of New Zealand have made nine changes to their starting XV for round two, including a change at flyhalf. Former England playmaker Freddie Burns is set to start his first match at Super Rugby level.

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In the other match tonight, the Hurricanes are set to play their second Australian derby of the season against home side the Melbourne Rebels.

The Hurricanes recovered from a slow start against the Queensland Reds last week, as they went on to register an emphatic 47-13 opening round win.

As for the Rebels, they’ll be looking to bounce back from a thrilling loss to the Western Force in Perth on Saturday evening.

Rising star Carter Gordon was among the standouts during the first-half, but the visitors couldn’t quite hold on for the win.

Instead, former All Blacks second-rower Jeremy Thrush completed a fairytale return to Super Rugby after unretiring ahead of the match. Thrush scored what ended up being the match winner inside the final 10 minutes – as the Rebels were left to rue what could’ve been.

RugbyPass will be keeping you updated on all the latest action throughout the night, which you can follow below.

 

DAY ONE RESULTS

Crusaders 52-15 Highlanders

Rebels 33 – 39 Hurricanes

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