S15: Rebels 19, Crusaders 25

imagesThe Rebels, the Jekyll and Hyde of Super Rugby, return to Melbourne for their second home game of the season, as seven-time Super Rugby champion Crusaders travel across the Tasman Sea for their first ‘international’ game of the season.

The Crusaders, the competition’s most successful team, have not missed the play-offs since 2001. However, they have struggled this season – their only win last week’s one-point (14-13) squeaker over the Stormers. Before that they lost their first two games – to Kiwi rivals, the Chiefs and Blues. After a disappointing 7-32 defeat against the Force in Perth last week, which came on the back 35-14 demolition of the Cheetahs, the Rebels will be looking to make amends when they host the Crusaders.

The Rebels have only met the Crusaders twice in their history, with the sides taking a win each. In their only previous meeting in Melbourne the Rebels recorded one of their most historic victories, beating the Red and Blacks in a come-from-behind win, holding the visitors scoreless in the second half. While the Crusaders are sure to test the Rebels’ pack, particularly at the scrum, the home side will come into the match with an edge over the Crusaders’ backline, which has struggled in the opening rounds.

Crusaders assistant coach Aaron Mauger conceded their backline are only operating at around 50 percent. While last week’s ugly win over the Stormers finally got the Crusaders on the Super Rugby points log, concerns remain about their inability to rip through defensive screens and create linebreaks. In three matches the Crusaders have scored just five tries – with Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty and Kieron Fonotia the backline’s contributors.

With Dan Carter on sabbatical, Tyler Bleyendaal and Tom Taylor have been the starting No.10s. However, the backline functioned best when Slade switched from fullback to flyhalf in the final quarter against the Stormers. Shifting Slade also allows Israel Dagg to return to his rightful position at fullback, after he ran on the left wing.

Coach Todd Blackadder acknowledged Slade’s influence on the backline in the final quarter last week. ”Just his [Slade’s] experience shone through a little bit,” Blackadder told Fairfax NZ News. ”He can just step up there and be a little more confident.” Blackadder also admitted former Hurricanes centre Reynold Lee-Lo’s confidence was down and has been instructed to play for the Crusaders development side this weekend.

”We know he’s a fine player, but we just went back to the experience of Colin Slade and a midfield pairing that worked bloody hard for us last year and got us to the semifinal against the Chiefs.” The message from the coaches is they want to square-up his running game, not put his outsides under pressure by crabbing across the park and to reduce his errors.

Although the Rebels were walloped by the Force last weekend, the Crusaders are cautious about their running game. ”Our away record [in the past] has been poor and we have put a lot of work into addressing that,” Blackadder ‘Part of that is respecting the opposition. It is easy to get up for these big New Zealand games but we have probably lacked intensity on the road.”

In their two matches so far, the Rebels have averaged more carries, metres, defenders beaten and time in possession than any other side. The Melbourne side have won 30 turnovers in two matches, a higher average than any other team. However, their goal-kicking is the worst in the competition – they have converted just 40 percent of their shots. The Crusaders make more passes (169.7) per game than any other side this season. They have also mustered 10 line-out steals, more than any other side (also the best average).

Previous results:
2013: Crusaders won 30-26, Christchurch
2012: Rebels won 28-19, Melbourne

Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Angus Roberts, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Nemani Nadolo.

Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Source: Rugby365

  22 comments for “S15: Rebels 19, Crusaders 25

  1. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:34 am
    Will the Crusaders build on their scrappy win against the Stormers from last week or will the Rebels spoil their comeback party…..

    This is the next game up and should be a cracker in Aus after the Rebels was humiliated last week by the Force after their great win in their first game against the Toyota Cheetahs

  2. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:43 am
    Rebels gets first change for points with a penalty kick from almost half way…..

    And it is over and Rebels take the lead 3-0

  3. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:49 am
    Crusaders get a penalty as well and draw level with Rebels, Score 3 all
  4. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:51 am
    One for you and one for me at this stage with the Rebels getting another kickable penalty

    Over!!! Rebels lead 6-3 in the 10 min of the game

  5. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:53 am
    Hope this game goes a bit more on just penalties as the Crusaders gets now a one which they opted to go for points

    Over!! and it is 6 all

  6. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:57 am
    This game was difficult to choose for me on superbru, as the rebels do not have the worst record against the saders. But go Saders!!!
  7. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:57 am
    And another one for the Rebels and what do you know they opted to go for points once again

    Missed it hopefully they will start playing now

  8. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 10:59 am
    Crusaders on attack and gets penalty 5 meters out but decide to take it quickly and spill it, Crusaders still on attack with scrum in Rebels 22
  9. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:00 am
    @Aldo: Rebels do attack much more but I am with you
  10. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:05 am
    Penalty from scrum for Crusaders and they go for points…

    Over and Crusaders lead by 9-6

  11. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:10 am
    Crusaders gets the penalty and Rebels get a talked to by the ref….

    Crusaders goes for points straight in front…

    Crusaders now lead 12-6 with 27 min gone….boring game….

  12. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:11 am
    At this stage the Crusaders do look better on attack and making less mistakes…..
  13. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:13 am
    Still do not understand how teams can kick a ball just away when they get turn over…Rebels playing stupid rugby
  14. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:14 am
    Mistake from Crusaders and they take ball over gaol line after charge down and Rebels with 5 meter attacking scrum…..
  15. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:15 am
    Crusaders turn over the ball on their gaol line and kick the ball out of their 22…

    Rebels lineouts are useless

  16. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:20 am
    No momentum for either team as too many mistakes in their attacks and making this a real stop start affair
  17. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:21 am
    Penalty count will just show you one thing and that is that both teams discipline is not good enough
  18. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:23 am
    A team who kicks after 10 phases shows you one thing and that is that they are running out of plans…

    Score Still 12-6 to Crusaders and half time creeps up on us.

  19. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:28 am
    Thankfully the half is gone and this is me hoping the teams will come out after the break and play some rugga’s

    Half time Score: Rebels 6 Crusaders 12

  20. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 11:44 am
    Another penalty for Crusaders and they extend their lead

    Crusaders 15, Rebels 9

  21. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm
    Finally the Crusaders score in the corner and lead now 22-12
  22. avatar
    March 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm
    Final score 25-19 to Crusaders thank god this one is over

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