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- 17th Jun 2011
- KO 08:35
- Ground: Eden Park, Auckland
Blues v Highlanders: Teams
At Eden Park, Friday June 17, kick-off 7.35pm (8.35am BST)
The Blues will be looking to end a poor run of form and secure a place in the Super Rugby play-offs when the meet the Highlanders at Eden Park on Friday.
The hosts have slid from top spot in the standings due to a run of four straight defeats and could drop out of the top six altogether if results do not go their way in the final round.
The chance they will miss out is a slim one, however, and a victory could earn them a first-week bye in the play-offs depending on results elsewhere.
They lost the battle for first place in the New Zealand Conference against the Crusaders last weekend but could regain top spot in the last round of fixtures.
The visiting Highlanders are only playing for pride having played themselves out of play-offs reckoning after three straight losses.
They currently sit eighth with an eight-win, seven-loss record, though a month ago they were on course for a top-six spot.
The Blues won their previous meeting against the Highlanders 15-10 thanks to the boot of Luke McAlister, who starts at inside centre for the return clash.
That win in Dunedin in late April was part of nine-match unbeaten run that took the Blues to the top of the table.
The two sides have met on 17 occasions, with the Blues victorious 12 times and losing only five of the clashes, making the Blues firm favourites this week.
Blues: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Lachie Munro, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Charlie Faumuina.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Chris Lowrey, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Winston Stanley, 22 Sherwin Stowers.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Matt Saunders, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Siale Piutau, 10 Tony Brown, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh. (c).
Replacements: 16 Mo Schwalger, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Nick Croswell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Robbie Robinson, 22 Telusa Veainu.
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