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It’s week 3 of Super Rugby Aotearoa with the unbeaten Blues hosting Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday (kick-off 8.05am Irish time) and Crusaders entertaining the Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, the following day (4.35am Irish time).
Saturday, 27th June 2020: Blues v Highlanders at Eden Park, Auckland (8.35am Irish time).
Referee: Paul Williams, AR1 Brendon Pickerill, AR 2 Ben O’Keeffe, TMO Mike Fraser.
The Highlanders have won 11 of their last 15 Super Rugby matches against the Blues (L4); although just four of those 11 wins have been by a double-digit margin.
The last eight Super Rugby matches between the Blues and Highlanders at Eden Park have seen each team pick up four wins apiece, despite the Highlanders leading at half-time in six of the games in that span.
The Blues have scored 30+ points in each of their last two Super Rugby home games (W2), the last time they scored 30+ points in more consecutive home games was a three-match span in 2014 (W3) which included a 30-12 win over the Highlanders.
The Highlanders defeated the Chiefs (28-27) in their opening game of Super Rugby Aotearoa and will out to secure back-to-back wins against fellow New Zealand opposition for the first time since June 2018.
The Blues have won their last three Super Rugby matches against fellow New Zealand teams, with each of those games seeing the teams separated by just a single point at half-time on the day.
Nine of the Highlanders’ last 11 completed Super Rugby away matches have been won by the team leading at half-time on the day, the Dunedin-based side picking up just two wins in that stretch (L9).
The Blues (21 in first quarter) are the only team to have scored 20+ points in any quarter of matches in this Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign so far.
The Highlanders won 11 turnovers last time out against the Chiefs, the last time they won 10+ in back-to-back games was Rounds 13 & 14 of the 2017 Super Rugby season.
The Blues’ Caleb Clarke (10) is the only player in Super Rugby Aotearoa (min. 2 appearances) with an average metres gained per carry in the double figures.
The Highlanders’ Shannon Frizell (3) is the only player to have made more than two offloads in this Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign so far.
Sunday, 28th June 2020: Crusaders v Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch (4.35am Irish time).
Referee: James Doleman, AR1 Ben O’Keeffe, AR2 Mike Fraser, TMO Brendon Pickerill.
The Chiefs have won each of their last two Super Rugby matches against the Crusaders, despite trailing at half-time in each of those games.
The Crusaders have won their last three Super Rugby home matches in succession against the Chiefs, as many as they had won the previous eight times they had hosted them (L5).
The Chiefs have lost each of their last three Super Rugby matches, as many as they lost in their 12 games prior (W8, D1).
The Crusaders have won 17 of their last 19 completed Super Rugby matches against other New Zealand teams (L2); although, the Chiefs handed them each of their two defeats in that time.
The Chiefs have averaged 43 points scored per game in their last five regular season away matches in Super Rugby, winning four of the games in that span (L1).
The Crusaders have lost only two of their last 45 Super Rugby home matches (W42, D1); however, the Chiefs (Rd 1, 2016) were responsible for one of those two defeats.
The Chiefs have made fewer than 10 clean breaks in three of their last four Super Rugby matches against New Zealand opposition, as many times as they did in their previous 22 games prior.
The Crusaders had a tackle success rate of 91% in their last Super Rugby meeting with the Chiefs, the only time in their last 18 matches the Christchurch-based squad has had a tackle success rate above 90%.
Chiefs’ pair Lachlan Boshier (57) and Aidan Ross (47) have hit the most and second most effective rucks respectively of all players in the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.
Sevu Reece (Crusaders) has scored five tries in his last five Super Rugby games against New Zealand opposition, including two braces in that time.