One of those mouthwatering matchups we like to see in this competition, Highlanders hosting the high flying Crusaders on Saturday.
The Highlanders may only have two wins from four matches but they look like a solid outfit this year.
They have impressed in their set pieces this year and they will need it this weekend against the Crusaders.
It is no easy task to take on the Crusaders but when New Zealand teams face each-other it is normally decided by a few points.
The Crusaders have four from four and look again like the team that will lift the trophy. What make this even more impressive is the fact that they have not even picked their strongest side yet this season.
The quality of the Crusaders is just on another level than any other team so far this season.
The Highlanders will challenge them this weekend and they have the team to even cause an upset, but like any test nations playing the All Blacks, they will have to be 100% perfect in all aspects of their game.
It all start in stopping their tight five and set pieces. If you can not dominate them there you have absolutely no chance in beating them.
Defence is the other part of your game that needs to be perfect. They have such a wide range of attacking abilities that makes it very difficult to defend against.
The Highlanders will have to close the space quickly on their play makers and the scrabble for ball in hand will be crucial in this match.
The Crusaders will welcome back a refreshed and rested Sam Whitelock back for the fist time this season.
Whitelock is very happy to be back to lead his team, “I’m sure a couple of the boys will be happy I’m not being held back another week because I’ve been a little bit niggly at training and they’ll be excited for me to just tone it down a little bit,” he said.
On the bench 19-year-old Fakatave gets a start over Hammington.
This is going to be a massive clash and surely a match you need to set a reminder for this weekend.
Some Interesting facts (By: Opta)
- The Crusaders have won 10 of their last 13 games against the Highlanders in Super Rugby, including a 45-22 win in their last meeting.
- The Highlanders have won 14 of their last 15 Super Rugby games at home (L1), including wins over Australian opposition in their last two despite conceding more than 30 points each time.
- The Crusaders have won their last 19 games on the bounce, restricting their opposition to single figures in the first half of their last eight games.
- The Crusaders have won their last eight Super Rugby games away from home; however, their last defeat on the road came in Round 5, 2018 against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
- Will Jordan (Crusaders) has scored three tries, made seven clean breaks, and gained 219 metres from 33 carries in his last two Super Rugby games.
Prediction: It is hard to go against the Saders even if they are not at home, Saders by 13
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Richard Buckman, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (cc), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Dillon Hunt, 22 Folau Fakatava, 23 Marty Banks
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Braydon Ennor, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Will Jordan
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