Blues vs Highlanders background

The Blues play their first game on their home patch and they welcome the Highlanders. Highlanders will be buoyed by their come from behind victory away to the Chiefs last week while the Blues had a bye. The Blues looked good in their first round victory against the Hurricanes and will want to put on a display for their home fans. There are threats all round in this Blues team with the Ioane brothers and the quick and powerful Caleb Clarke. I feel the Blues are the only team in the competition capable of challenging the Crusaders and they will need to lay down a marker in this game. They certainly have the players and a superb All Black laden pack with game breakers all through the backline. We know the Highlanders always punch above their weight and have dual captains Ash Dixon and All Black Aaron Smith directing them around the park. The high tempo of this game will see the replacements having a major impact and the Blues can call on All Blacks from the bench and this should make certain of a Blues victory.

TIP: Last year’s losing finalists the Blues will want to go one better this year and that hunger will see them win this match. There is too much star quality in the Blues team and I don’t think the Highlanders will be able to match them so therefore I’m going for a home victory. The one player the Blues will have to watch is Jona Nareki as he almost single- handedly beat the Chiefs with 3 tries and an assist. A Blues victory is priced at 1.41 at 1xBet and Sunbet has the Blues at 1.35 for the victory. Supabets are offering 1.31 for a Blues victory.

HEAD TO HEAD STATS

 Blues vs Highlanders

  • The last 5 matches have seen the Blues hold a 3-2 advantage.
  • The last time the Highlanders beat the Blues in Auckland was in 2018.
  • 4 of the last 5 meetings have been won by the home side.

Latest results for both teams

The Blues won their last match 16-31 away to the Hurricanes while the Highlanders won their last game 23-39 away to the Chiefs.

PREDICTION

The Highlanders are a team who rely heavily on pack domination and this is an area of strength for the Blues. All Blacks Akira Ioane, Hoskins Sotutu and Patrick Tuipulotu will dominate up front and this will allow the like of Rieko Ioane and Caleb Clarke to score the tries. I predict a Blues victory by more than 8 points. The Blues will be keen to impress their fans in their first home game of the season.

  • Probable  Starting XVs

Blues

15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathon Ruru ; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (C), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Luteri Tolai, 1 James Lay.

Highlanders

15 Connor Garden-Bachop,14  Ngatugnane Punivai,13 Michael Collins,12 Patelesio Tomkinson,11  Jona Nareki,10 Josh Ioane,9.   Aaron Smith (cc), 8  Hugh Renton,7  James Lentjes 6   Shannon Frizell,5  Manaaki Selby-Rickit,4   Josh Dickson,3  Siate Tokolahi,2   Liam Coltman,1 Ethan De Groot

Odds for this bet

The Blues with their passionate fans behind should run out victors in this match and the odds on a Blues victory are as follows;

1xBet 1.41

Sunbet 1.31

Supabets 1.31

Odds comparison

The odds on a Blues handicap (-7.5) are as follows:

1xBet 1.83

Sunbet 1.85

Supabets 1.90

Predictions  and Odds in details

The Highlanders main attacking weapon has been their rolling maul but this season it hasn’t worked for them and the Blues are a team that will also nullify that threat. I predict the Blues to run out comfortable winners and I suggest the handicap (-7.5) as a value bet. The Blues have got replacement front rowers that are All Blacks and this will see them pull away in the final 20 minutes even if it’s a tight contest up to that stage. Auckland has only recently come out of lock down and a packed Eden Park will live up to its name The House of Pain for the Highlanders.  The Blues on the Handicap (-7.5) is at 1.90 with Supabets while on the same handicap are available at 1.85 and 1.83 with Sunbet and 1xBet respectively.

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