Super Rugby preseason fixtures 2018: who's playing who, when and where?

The looming Rugby World Cup means the southern hemisphere season begins a fortnight earlier in the 2019, with the Super Rugby opener set down for February 15.

Before that, however, each of the 15 teams will engage in some preseason fixtures to prepare for the season proper.

Check out when your team returns to the field below.

Brumbies 52-38 Rebels

The Brumbies and Rebels have officially returned to action for 2019, contesting an open preseason trial in blistering conditions at Viking Park in Canberra.

And it was the hosts who got off to a winning start in the first of their two trials, the Brumbies running out 52-38 winners as the mercury hit a top of 37 Degrees.

Wallabies outside centre Tevita Kuridrani was the star of a match played across three 30 minute periods, the veteran back picking up a hat-trick while Leni Ikitau also picked up a double for the Brumbies.

But it was Kuridrani's powerhouse return that will have hopes high in the Aussie capital, and come as welcome relief to Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, after the centre missed the back half of the year with a pectoral injury.

Bulls 21-17 Lions

The Bulls' three first-half tries were enough to secure the verdict in a mistake-riddled match featuring a number of fringe players in Pretoria.

The Bulls' midfield pairing of J.T. Jackson and Franco Naude each scored a try, the South Africa Under-20 players both powering over the line after a strong scrummage from the forwards. Rosko Specman, who has joined the Bulls from South Africa's Blitzboks sevens program, displayed his speed in sprinting 70 metres to score after the Lions had lost the ball. Manie Libbok converted all three tries.

The impressive Wandisile Simelane sparked a Lions revival, and Morne van der Berg and Stiaan Pienaar crossed the stripe in quick succession, on the back of five successive penalties, and the teams went to halftime with the Bulls leading 21-10.

Neither team showed much in the second half, although James Venter scored a try for the Lions late in the piece, converted by Jan-Luc Cilliers.

Combined Club XV and False Bay RFC vs. Stormers,

The Stormers scored 14 tries in their first warm-up of the season, posting six in the first half against hosts False Bay RFC and eight tries in the second stanza against a Combined Club XV consisting of local non-University club players.

Centre Dan du Plessis starred with four tries in the first half, with scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and No.8 Juarno Augustus. The Stormers made wholesale changes for the second half, and the pack impressed with No.8 Jaco Coetzee, tighthead prop Neethling Fouche, hooker Dan Jooste and lock Salmaan Moerat scoring tries. Craig Barry grabbed a brace in the final quarter, while Dan Kriel and Nico Leonard also scored.

Uruguay 0-61 Jaguares

The Jaguares dismantled Los Teros in front of nearly 10,000 spectators in Montevideo, although they failed to trouble the scorers until the end of the first quarter. No.9 Rodrigo Bruni opened the scoring, and then the floodgates opened and the Jaguares posted nine tries -- with hooker Julián Montoya scoring twice. Joaquin Díaz Bonilla, Santiago González Iglesias and, who are vying to replace Nicolas Sanchez in the No. 10 jumper, shared the playmaking duties and combined to convert seven of the nine tries.

Highlanders 59-38 Waratahs

The Waratahs were found wanting late in their opening trial match of the Super Rugby season, going down 59-38 to the Highlanders in Alexandra.

The Kiwi side ran in nine tries to six in a typically loose early-season hit-out at the small South Island holiday town on Friday.

A Waratahs side missing most of their Wallabies players led 31-14 midway through the second third but their defence was prised apart easily from that point on.

Former Queensland Reds back Karmichael Hunt made a sound debut at inside centre for the Waratahs, hitting the ball up strongly at times.

Tevita Nabura bagged a hat-trick for the Highlanders, helping the Fijian-born winger brush aside the memory of last year's Super Rugby match against the Waratahs in Sydney, when he was sent off.

Rebels 29-26 Reds

Quade Cooper has shrugged off a minor knee injury to help steer the Melbourne Rebels to a thrilling win over his former Super Rugby side Queensland in their pre-season trial in Ballarat.

Cooper's Rebels looked headed for a tight loss until reserve five-eighth Stu Dunbar scored with the final play of the game on Friday to clinch a 29-26 win.

Unwanted by Reds coach Brad Thorn during the 2018 season, Cooper shifted south in the hope of reigniting his international career.

After missing last week's trial against the Brumbies with the knee injury he played the first 35 minutes, lining up at No. 10 against Reds prodigy Hamish Stewart with the pair splitting the points.

Cooper was busy in attack, particularly with his boot as he looked to chip kick over the willing Queensland defence with varying levels of success.

He also fumbled a kick over the sideline right in front of the Queensland bench, who were happy to wind up their former teammate who played 118 times for the Reds.

Cooper said it good to have his first hit-out with his new team.

"It felt great, it was a great opportunity to put the jumper on and play some football," Cooper said.

Hurricanes 19-34 Crusaders

Defending champions the Crusaders have got their preseason off to a flyer, defeating the Hurricanes 34-19 at Levin on Saturday afternoon in their first of two trial matches.

The Hurricanes showed encouraging signs early with Vince Aso crossing following a Jackson Garden-Bachop brea, but it was all Crusaders for the rest of the match, scoring five tries to three in perfect running rugby conditions.

Blues 43-10 Chiefs

A promising Blues side have won their opening trial match of the year with a dominating 43-10 victory over the Chiefs in hot conditions Kaikohe.

Hat-trick hero Caleb Clarke proved an exciting young prospect for the Blues, leading the charge for his side as they made easy work of a scrappy Chiefs team. The Blues were physical upfront and dominated the breakdown to keep the Chiefs on the backfoot for much of the match.

New Blues coach Leon McDonald was impressed by the performance and believed it reflected the hard work the side had put in throughout the preseason. "We needed the hitout to see where we're at, and overall we're pleased with the way we were able to maintain a good pace and stayed pretty close to our structures we've practised," McDonald said.

Lions 19-14 Sharks

Replacement wing Sylvian Mahuza clinched victory for the Lions when he dotted down an intercept try late in the piece, the second such score after Sharks flyer Makazole Mapimpi had crossed for the first of the game after 25 minutes.

The fixture, the first of the double-header featuring all four South African sides in their Marvel Super Hero jumpers, saw standout performances from Lions stars Malcolm Marx, Warren Whiteley and Elton Jantjies, in particular, with the hooker carrying Sharks defenders over the line for a converted try that sent the teams to halftime at 7-7.

Springboks winger Courtnall Skosan touched down off a Jantjies grubber kick in the second half to extend the Lions' lead, but Marx's counterpart for the Sharks, Akker van der Merwe, scored with virtually his first touch as a replacement to reduce the deficit. The Sharks, then, were chasing the game when Mahuza raced clear for the decisive score.

Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am showed up well for the Sharks, for whom youngsters Phendulani Buthelezi and Aphelele Fassi also showed great promise for the season ahead.

Stormers 33-28 Bulls

Stormers captain Chris van Zyl scored late to secure victory for the hosts in the fluctuating second game of the Marvel Super Hero double-header at Cape Town Stadium.

The Stormers raced to a 21-0 lead, at a point a minute, through tries from Seabelo Senatla‚ Josh Stander and S.P. Marais, but the Bulls would not lie down.

Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard opened the Bulls' account and then former Stormers hero Duane Vermeulen sparked a move on the right flank that ended with scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl touching down.

Juarno Augustus, who had gone close for the Stormers early, extended their lead when he charged down a kick, only for Warrick Gelant to strike back for the Bulls and the hosts went to the break leading 26-21.

Paul Schoeman scored a try converted by Manie Libbok, to lead with eight minutes to play, but the hosts would not be denied and van Zyl scored after a spell of pressure in the Bulls' 22.

Lood de Jager was immense for the Bulls, who lost Jesse Kriel with a head knock, while Senatla, Scarra Ntubeni and Augustus starred for the Stormers.

Brumbies 34-28 Waratahs

In a soggy battle, the Brumbies held strong in the death to win their final trial match 34-28 against the Waratahs in Goulburn.

Both sides were without their Wallabies stars, but several Brumbies players stepped up in their teammates absence including Lausii Taliauli and new signing Irae Simone.

But several injuries cruelled both sides the match with Taliauli unable to finish the game, alongside James Slipper and Tahs centre Lalakai Foketi also helped off the pitch.

Taliauli was impressive during his time on the ground, scoring the opening try off the match with a bulldozing run, before centres Simone, Tevita Kuridrani, along with hooker Folau Faingaa and reserve prop Tom Ross scoring the rest of the Brumbies points.

Scores from Will Miller, Lachlan Swinton, Jed Holloway and Ned Hanigan weren't enough to chase down the Brumbies total.

Crusaders 43-38 Highlanders

Crusaders fullback Will Jordan scored the match-winning try in the 78th minute of this trial match in Southbridge.

The Highlanders had seemed certain to retain the Farmlands Cup when they led by seven points with 10 minutes to play, after winger Josh McKay, who plays for Canterbury in the New Zealand domestic competition, had scored.

Second-rower Mitchell Dunshea crashed over for an unconverted try just a couple minutes later, and then Jordan to have the final say. Southbridge had got its money's worth.

Tom Sanders previously scored a brace for the Crusaders, for whom Tim Bateman, Jordan Taufua and Manasa Mataele also crossed, while Sio Tomkinson, with a pair, Liam Coltman, James Lentjes and Folau Fakatava crossed for the Highlanders.

Reds 19-21 Chiefs

The Chiefs prevailed at Ballymore, where the Reds mixed dropped ball with scrum dominance in a fightback that fell just short.

Brad Thorn's men were slow out of the blocks but levelled at 14-14 when both Harry Hoopert and Tate McDermott finished probing sequences for the hosts.

Tyler Campbell ran onto a cross-field chip kick to put the Chiefs ahead again before Ruan Smith scored for the Reds, with a missed Filipo Daugunu conversion from the left touchline the difference in front of nearly 5000 rowdy fans.

"We worked hard for a loss," Thorn said, while complementing the side's scrum dominance and fitness on a muggy Brisbane night.

"It's disappointing because if someone's going to score against you, you want it to be an absolute tussle.

"Two easy ones, then we spent the game getting back to that space then another easy one."

The Chiefs fielded just five members of the side that lost a tight Super Rugby quarterfinal to the Hurricanes last season.

But they were the sharper outfit early, exposing the Reds twice inside the first 10 minutes with kicks to build a 14-0 lead.

First Shaun Stevenson ran onto a long kick to score in the right corner after an innocuous spilled Reds ball on halfway.

Bailyn Sullivan then added a second for the Chiefs, jumping on a simple grubber that found new Reds fullback Bryce Hegarty out of position.

There was no shortage of scrum practice at least, with the Reds holding sway in that department and drawing a yellow card after repeated offences by the visitors.

But repeated dropped ball meant the Reds couldn't capitalise on the numerical advantage.

Caleb Timu ran the ball strongly for the Reds, while the young bench, led by Smith, Hoopert, McDermott and Isaac Lucas, showed plenty once promoted in the second half.

"Our attack; there wasn't much going on and finally some life (in the second half)," Thorn said.

"The first half I imagine would've been a tough one for the fans."

Wallabies lock Izack Rodda and veteran prop JP Smith were rested from the clash, with no major injuries reported in what was an otherwise full-strength Queensland line-up.

The Reds have a first-round Super Rugby bye, with their first game away to the Highlanders on February 22.

Boland 5-87. Stormers

The Stormers scored 13 tries to defeat Boland in sweltering conditions in Wellington, SP Marais, Nico Leonard J.D. Schickerling and Jaco Coetzee each bagging a brace of tries.

Springboks players Pieter-Steph du Toit, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Siya Kolisi also touched down at Boland Stadium, with Neethling Fouché, Ruhan Nel and Juarno Augustus rounding out the tryscorer. Marais, Damian Willemse and Jean-Luc du Plessis combined to kick 11 of the 13 conversions.

Gavern Skippers scored for the hosts.

The majority of the Stormers' Springboks players produced solid performances given that had not featured so much in the previous pre-season fixtures, while, Leonard, Augustus and Dan du Plessis pressed their claims for inclusion against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in round one of the competition proper.

Hurricanes 31-38 Blues

The Blues wrapped up an undefeated Super Rugby season with a seven-point victory in this high-profile fixture at Mangatainoka.

The Canes led 14-0 inside 11 minutes, through James Blackwell and Ben Lam finished, but the Blues roared back in front of the temporary stands and stock truck on the field opposite the Tui Brewery.

Ma'a Nonu scored a try and Melani Nanai touched down for two more as the Blues claimed a 38-19 lead midway through the second half.

Leni Apisai, Hoskins Sotutu and Harry Plummer also scored for the Blues, while Asafo Aumua, Ben May and Wes Goosen crossed in the final quarter for the Canes to reduce the margin.

Sharks 7-7 Bulls

The teams combined to produce an error-strewn final Super Rugby preseason fixture in South Africa, both struggling to retain the ball in sweltering conditions at Ashton International College in Ballito.

The Bulls opened the scoring after kicking a penalty to the corner, Schalk Brits touching down a lineout drive from the ensuing set-piec. Handre Pollard converted but the Sharks were level within five minutes when Cameron Wright concluded a well-worked move that had started on the other side of the field. Curwin Bosch converted to square the ledger, although the scoreborad did not reflect the successful kick until well after halftime.

Heavy-hitting defence dominated the game thereafter, with the Bulls in particularly impressive given the manner in which the Sharks dominated possession and territory in the second half.