Crusaders 14, DHL Stormers 13

imagesThe Crusaders have lost the services of one of their most valuable warriors, Richie McCaw. The Stormers have gained the muscle of one of their most battled-hardened players, Schalk Burger.

And while the loss of one player can be overcome, given the Crusaders’ rich resources among the loose forwards, the return of Burger is seen as crucial to the visitors’ cause.

“It is a vital game, against a strong Crusaders side,” Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said of his team that has one win (by a single point) from two starts this season.

While the loss of McCaw (with a fractured thumb) is a loss, Coetzee was quick to point out that the still have a tried-and-trusted combination with a big forward pack.

“[The] experience [of a player like Burger] will be crucial,” Coetzee said in a teleconference call from Christchurch.

“It is great to also have Peter Grant in the mix,” he said, adding: “That is what we will be needing.

“We have been talking about creating opportunities, [but] our conversion rate is not good at this stage.

“That comes because of the inability to stay calm, because of a lack of composure.”

Coetzee said his players were “a bit frantic” with ball in hand in previous weeks.

“That is what we need to have this weekend [calmness and composure],” he said, adding: “You have to take your opportunities and that comes with the experienced players on the field .”

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder is no doubt frustrated about his team’s defeats to the Chiefs and Blues, which left them second from bottom with no points.

“I don’t like losing at all,” he told Fairfax NZ News.

“I hate losing and we have got a team that is better than the performances we have put on the track,” Blackadder added.

“We have high expectations from everyone, most of all ourselves. We are pretty pissed off.”

He said this week was not just about taking responsibility, but working on executing the game plan.

“And bringing a bloody physical mindset and now the next task is having the ability to deliver it. There’s no point talking about it – I’m over talking about it.”

Recent results:
2013: Crusaders won 19-14, Cape Town
2012: Crusaders won 31-24, Christchurch
2011: Crusaders won 29-10, Cape Town (semifinal)
2011: Crusaders won 20-14, Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 42-14, Cape Town
2009: Crusaders won 11-7, Christchurch


Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Israel Dagg, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Kieron Fonotia.

Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.

Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Watt (New Zealand)

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