Super Rugby preview: Brumbies host Auckland Blues at Canberra Stadium
Last Updated: 04/04/14 7:10am
The Blues could leapfrog their way into second place on Friday as they travel to the Canberra Stadium to take on the Brumbies as Round 8 of Super Rugby gets underway.
Sir John Kirwan's men cruised to victory over the Highlanders at Eden Park last weekend, with tries from George Moala, Ma'a Nonu and Charles Piutau gifting them a 30-12 triumph.
The Blues recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this season - having lost three of their first four outings - and could move second should they manage to complete a hat-trick.
Brumbies lost pace with league leaders the Sharks last weekend, as they slipped to a shock 32-24 reverse at the hands of Melbourne Rebels.
A slovenly 10 minutes cost the Brumbies dear as the Rebels cruised home, with defeat leaving them six points adrift of the Sharks.
Despite their unexpected blip, four wins from their opening six fixtures leaves Brumbies in second, level on points with defending champions Chiefs, while opponents Blues, Lions and the Waratahs are all just one point behind.
The Brumbies have made just one change to their starting side for Friday's clash as Siliva Siliva starts at hooker.
Stephen Moore will miss his first Brumbies game through injury since 2011 after the Wallaby hooker was given a week to recover from a niggling knee concern.
With Siliva moving into the starting side, Josh Mann-Rea comes on to the Brumbies bench in what is an otherwise untouched squad from the one which lost to the Rebels in Melbourne last Friday.
Director of Rugby Laurie Fisher said the Blues presented a significant challenge to the Brumbies.
"Like all New Zealand teams the Blues like to play, they've got tremendous attacking potential. They like to throw it around a bit and they can certainly score points," Fisher said.
"But you look at their side this year they've introduced a bit more structure there too which is a point of difference for them.
"They've got some tidy pick and drive, a little bit of mauling so they're a different team to what they've been in the past."
Blues boss Kirwan has made just two changes to the side that overcame the Highlanders last week, with Brendan O'Connor returning for the Blues, while Tevita Li gets a call-up.
Jerome Kaino assumes captaincy duties from the injured Luke Braid, who is replaced by O'Connor at openside flanker.
After featuring heavily against the Highlanders, Jackson Willison has been ruled out with a rib injury, meaning George Moala switches into midfield and livewire Li gets a run on the left flank.
Brumbies: 15 Mogg, 14 Tomane, 13 Kuridrani, 12 McCabe, 11 Coleman, 10 Toomua, 9 White; 1 JP Smith, 2 Siliva, 3 Alexander, 4 Fardy, 5 Carter, 6 Smiler, 7 Butler, 8 Mowen (c).
Replacements: 16 Mann-Rea, 17 R Smith, 18 Murphy, 19 Whetton, 20 McCaffrey, 21 Hoffmann, 22 A Smith, 23 Lealiifano.
Blues: 15 Piutau, 14 Halai, 13 Moala, 12 Nonu, 11 Li, 10 Hickey, 9 Hall; 1 Woodcock, 2 McCartney, 3 Faumuina, 4 Moli, 5 Triggs, 6 Kaino (c), 7 O'Connor, 8 Luatua.
Replacements: 16 Parsons, 17 Prattley, 18 Ta'avao, 19 Manihera, 20 Braod, 21 Takulua, 22 Saili, 23 Marshall.
You can see all the action from the Canberra Stadium as the Brumbies take on the Blues live on Sky Sports 3HD from 9:30am.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 8
Highlanders wing Kurt Baker has been hit with a six-week suspension for a dangerous tackle.
The Crusaders broke Super Rugby's away-day hoodoo with a comfortable 28-7 win over the Lions in Johannesburg.
The Chiefs fought back from 34-10 down against the Cheetahs to claim a remarkable 43-43 draw in Super Rugby action.