The Highlanders will be determined to deliver an impressive performance when they take on the Reds in Dunedin on Friday.
With the quarter-finals looming on the horizon, the 2015 champions will be hoping to make a statement of intent ahead of the play-offs by hitting their straps against the Reds who are amongst the tournament’s also-rans.
Things will not be easy though as the Reds head into this match with some confidence after they beat the Australian Conference table-toppers, the Brumbies, in Brisbane last weekend.
Although the Highlanders are at home and will start this fixture as favourites, they can expect a tough assignment from the Reds who have been very competitive in this fixture over the years. Each of the last eight games between these teams have seen the losing team pick up a bonus point and on six occasions in that span it has been the Queensland-based side who have emerged victorious.
However, only once from nine attempts in Super Rugby history have the Reds defeated the Highlanders when playing away from home, earning a one-point win against them when these sides clashed in Round 7, 2013.
The Highlanders have earned competition points from each of their last 21 regular season games against teams from outside New Zealand, winning 18 of those games and earning a bonus point in the three losses in that period.
The last time the Reds ended their Super Rugby regular season with a game against New Zealand opposition saw them net a 19-11 win against the Chiefs in 2011.
The Highlanders have won their last three games played on a Friday, scoring an average of 51 points per game across that period.
Although they have already booked their play-off berth, this match is still quite important for the Highlanders. They are currently in seventh spot position in the overall standings and will be keen to hold on to their ranking for the finals.
If they lose to the Reds, and the Sharks claim a bonus-point triumph against the Lions on Saturday, the Durban-based outfit could finish seventh and the Highlanders eighth on the final table.
2016: Reds won 28-27 in Brisbane
2015: Highlanders won 20-13 in Dunedin
2014: Reds won 38-31 in Brisbane
2013: Reds won 34-33 in Dunedin
2012: Reds won 19-13 in Brisbane
2010: Reds won 38-36 in Brisbane
2009: Highlanders won 24-19 in Invercargill
2008: Reds won 22-16 in Brisbane
Highlanders: 15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock (cc), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (cc), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Gareth Evans, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Patelesio Tomkinson
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Adam Korczyk, 7 George Smith, 6 Caleb Timu, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Sef Fa’agase
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Markus Vanzati, 18 Sam Talakai, 20 Reece Hewat, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Jayden Ngamanu
Date: Friday, July 14
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick–off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown, James Doleman
TMO: Aaron Paterson