The latest incarnation of Super Rugby began last weekend and, as expected, it was New Zealand who came out beaming after a 5-0 sweep of the Australian contingent in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
All hope is not lost for Australian rugby, however, with both the Brumbies and Force pushing the Crusaders and Chiefs to the wire respectively.
Much more will be expected of the Reds back at home in Brisbane this week, but ugly viewing again looms for fans of the Waratahs and Rebels who both head across the Tasman in Round 2.
Stay across all the line-ups for Round 2 as they're named below, as we analyse each fixture and its respective odds.
Friday, May 21
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen, Orbyn Leger, Jonathan Taumateine, Devan Flanders, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tyrel Lomax, Dane Coles (captain), Xavier Numia. Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Alex Fidow, Liam Mitchell, Brayden Iose, Gareth Evans, Cam Roigard, Lolagi Visinia.
Rebels: George Worth, Andrew Kellaway, Campbell Magnay, Matt To'omua, Marika Koroibete, Carter Gordon, Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, Joshua Kemeny, Michael Wells, Trevor Hosea, Robert Leota, Cabous Eloff, Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr. Replacements: James Hanson, Matt Gibbon, Lucio Sordoni, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, James Tuttle, Stacey Ili, Frank Lomani.
Odds [tab.com.au]: Hurricanes $1.04, -25.5 $1.90; Rebels $11, +25.5 $1.90 [Odds correct as of 11am 19/5]
Verdict: The Rebels were an absolute rabble last week, posting just one penalty and conceding a half-century, while the Hurricanes defence was just as absent when they let in 46 points to the Waratahs, but at least their attack was on song as they posted a cricket score. Don't expect much of a turn around from the Rebels this week, while they may have plugged a few holes there's no doubt the Canes have the ability to tear right through them. Whether the Rebels can make the most of the Canes defensive woes remains to be seen. Tip: Hurricanes by 25+
Force: Rob Kearney, Richard Kahui, Kyle Godwin, Henry Taefu, Jordan Olowofela, Jake McIntyre, Tomas Cubelli, Tim Anstee, Kane Koteka, Fergus Lee-Warner, Sitaleki Timani, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu'u, Tom Robertson. Replacements: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Greg Holmes, Ryan McCauley, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Domingo Miotti, Jake Strachan
Highlanders: Sam Gilbert, Sio Tomkinson, Michael Collins, Scott Gregory, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (cc), Hugh Renton, Billy Harmon, Shannon Frizell, Bryn Evans, Pari Pari Parkinson, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (cc), Ayden Johnstone. Replacements: Liam Coltman, Ethan de Groot, Josh Hohneck, Josh Dickson, Kazuki Himeno, Kayne Hammington, Josh Ioane, Ngantungane Punivai
Odds: [tab.com.au] Force $4, +10.5 $1.90; Highlanders $1.25, -10.5 $1.90 [odds correct as of 11am 19/5]
Verdict: The Force are at home again and will be determined to go one better after they fell just short to the Chiefs with a missed conversion after the hooter. The Highlanders will be full of confidence though after they easily dismantled a wary Reds in Dunedin. The Force have the right mix of talent and experience to make life difficult for the Landers, and the travel may play on their side, but there's no doubt the tourists have the game plan to get a win on the road. This match will be tight with both sides a middle of the road type team. Tip: Force by three
Saturday, May 22
Blues: Zarn Sullivan, Bryce Heem, Reiko Ioane, TJ Faiane, AJ Lam, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Tom Robinson, Josh Goodhue, Gerard Cowley-Tuoti, Ofa Tuungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu'inukuafe. Replacements: Soane Vikena, Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Patrick Tuiopulotu, Dalton Papalli, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer
Waratahs: Jack Maddocks, Alex Newsome, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, James Turner, Ben Donaldson, Jake Gordon, Will Harris, Charlie Gamble, Lachlan Swinton, Max Douglas, Hugh Sinclair, Harry Johnson-Holmes, David Porecki, Angus Bell. Replacements: Joe Cotton, Te Tera Faulkner, Darcy Breen, Jack Whetton, Jack Dempsey, Carlo Tizzano, Jack Grant, Will Harrison.
Odds: [tab.com.au] Blues $1.01, -34.5 $1.95; Waratahs $15, +34.5 $1.85 [odds correct as of 11am 12/5]
Verdict: Waratahs fans, look away now. While last week's match was a 17-try roller coaster, which included seven tries alone to the Tahs, don't expect a similar outing again this week. The Blues made the Rebels look like amateurs last week when they scored a half-century and conceded just three points, and they'll be more than happy to repeat the effort at home against the Waratahs. Tahs meanwhile will need an overhaul in defence after they missed over 30 tackles last week, and their attack will be thoroughly tested with Izaia Perese no doubt in Reiko Ioane's sights. Tip: Blues by 20
Chiefs: Chase Tiatia, Bailyn Sullivan, Anton Leinert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Jonah Lowe, Damian McKenzie, Brad Weber, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Liam Messam, Tupou Vaa'I, Josh Lord, Sione Mafileo, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Aidan Ross. Replacements: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, Atu Moli, Zane Kapeli, Pita Gus Sowakula, Xavier Roe, Rameka Poihipi, Kaleb Trask
Brumbies: Tom Banks, Solomone Kata, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Noah Lolesio, Ryan Lonergan, Rob Valetini, Rory Scott, Henry Stowers, Nick Frost, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa, Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio. Replacements: Connal McInerney, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Tom Hooper, Tom Cusack, Isaak Fines-Leleiwasa, Bayley Kuenzle, Mack Hansen
Odds: [tab.com.au] Chiefs $1.33, -8.5 $1.90; Brumbies $3.35 +8.5 $1.90 [odds correct as of 11am 19/5]
Verdict: Of the two tight finishes last weekend, both teams were involved but were opposite sides of the results. The Chiefs just sneaked home with a one point victory over the Force in Perth, while the Brumbies were just inches away from a draw in Christchurch. Both teams will be bolstered by their efforts, but perhaps the Brumbies may have the edge. It's never easy taking down the Crusaders and they came within inches. Naming a full strength side, they'll be full of confidence that they can get their first win on the road. The Chiefs meanwhile weren't too happy with their discipline last week, leaking 19 penalties, three yellows, one of which turned to a red. They were lucky to leave Perth with the victory, and no doubt the travel back to New Zealand could play a fatigue factor. Tip: Brumbies by five
Reds: Bryce Hegarty, Suliasi Vunivalu, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Jock Campbell, James O'Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Dane Zander. Replacements: Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert, Feao Fotuaika, Seru Uru, Angus Scott-Young, Kalani Thomas, Isaac Henry, Filipo Daugunu
Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Richie Mo'unga, Mitchell Drummond, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sam Whitelock, Mitchell Dunshea, Oliver Jager, Codie Taylor, George Bower. Replacements: Brodie McAlister, Tamaiti Williams, Michael Alaalatoa, Quinten Strange, Sione Havili Talitui, Bryn Hall, Dallas McLeod, Manasa Mataele
Odds: [tab.com.au] Reds $3.70, +10.5 $1.90; Crusaders $1.28, -10.5 $1.90 [odds correct as of 11am 19/5]
Verdict: This is without doubt the blockbuster match up of the weekend. Super Rugby champions from both sides of the ditch playing out what many people hope could be a Trans-Tasman Final preview. The Reds were easily dismantled by the Highlanders last week following a tight six-day turn around, they'll be hoping to bounce back hard this week with the return of many of their key stars, including Hunter Paisami in the midfield. The Crusaders, meanwhile, were lucky to take home a victory after they allowed the Brumbies within a conversion of a draw. They'll be determined not to have such a close call again this week, but cauldron Suncorp has been a hard venue for any visitor. This will be tight. Tip: Reds by three