Super Rugby Aotearoa R6: Line-ups, odds, analysis

After five exciting rounds we now come up to the return fixtures with the Hurricanes playing host to the Blues and the Highlanders taking on the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Struggling to find a foot hold in the competition, the Chiefs will be determined to turn their fortunes around and return serve from their Round 1 finally minute defeat to the Highlanders. While, the Blues will want to return to winning ways after they were cruelly shot down in the final minutes against the Crusaders.

Read on for fixtures, team lists and odds.

Saturday, July 18

Hurricanes vs. Blues, Sky Stadium, Wellington, 5:05pm (AEST)

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Kobus Van Wyk, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomaz, Dane Coles, Ben May.

Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Vaea Fifita, Jamie Booth, Billy Proctor, Wes Goosen.

Blues: Beauden Barrett, Emoni Narawa, Rieko Ioane, Harry Plummer, Mark Telea, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Aaron Carroll, Josh Goodhue, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman

Replacements: Tolai Luteru, Marcel Renata, Sione Mafileo, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Tony Lamborn, Jonathan Ruru, TJ Faiane, Matt Duffie.

Odds []: Hurricanes $2.00, Blues $1.80; Hurricanes $1.85 +1.5, Blues $1.95 -1.5

Verdict: With two wins to their name, the Hurricanes are within striking distance of the Blues and sliding into second place and Round 6 provides the perfect opportunity. Hanging on to beat the Highlanders last week, the Canes have made three changes including the welcome return of Dane Coles, while Jackson Garden-Bachop gets back the number 10 jersey. The Blues, meanwhile, have enjoyed a successful Super Rugby Aotearoa so far, including their 30-20 defeat of the Canes in Round 1, but suffered their first defeat last week at the hands of the Crusaders. With three forced changes through injury, the Blues won't be at full strength, but will no doubt push the Canes through the full 80 minutes. Blues by 7

Sunday, July 19

Chiefs vs. Highlanders, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, 1:35pm (AEST)

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Solomon Alaimalo, Kaleb Trask, Brad Weber, Pita Gus Sowakula, Sam Cane (c), Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Tupou Vaa'i, Nepo Laulala, Bradley Slater, Aidan Ross.

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Reuben O'Neill, Ross Geldenhuys, Adam Thomson, Mitchell Karpik, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Aaron Cruden, Quinn Tupaea.

Highlanders: Michael Collins, Josh McKay, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Scott Gregory, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (cc), Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, Jack Whetton, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone.

Replacements: Liam Coltman (cc), Ethan De Groot, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Jesse Parete, Folau Fakatava, Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki

Odds []: Chiefs $1.50, Highlanders $2.60; Chiefs -5.5 $1.95, Highlanders -5.5 $1.85

Verdict: The Chiefs will have had 14 days to think about where it has all gone wrong in this competition by the time their clash with the Highlanders rolls around on Sunday. They'll probably think it could have all been different if Bryn Gatland -- who has not been named this week -- hadn't answered Damian McKenzie's drop goal some six weeks ago. But Sunday also should be the beginning of the Chiefs' mission to restore some pride in their jersey, too. The big in for Warren Gatland is centre Anton Lienert-Brown, the classy All Blacks midfielder giving the Chiefs attack another dimension while Kaleb Trask starts at No. 10. The Highlanders, meanwhile, have Josh Ioane back on the bench. But there is too much quality across this Chiefs side for them to lose a fifth straight game, look for them to have changed their attacking setup slightly in a bid to open up the Highlanders' defence and free up more space for Damian McKenzie. Chiefs by 10.

BYE: Crusaders