Although the Crusaders had some tight matches in the lats couple of weeks they still manage to come on top.
After 15 weeks of Super Rugby they only had one loss against there name and they will be trying to keep that momentum when they travel this weekend to face the Chiefs.
It will be a desperate Chiefs side that they will face fighting for that slight chance to still make the playoffs.
We can expect the Chiefs to come out firing in this match. Their mission will be to win this one and get a bonus point as well. The only problem is that not many teams have been able to do this against the Crusaders.
The game will be played in front of a passionate Fijian crowd at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.
Chiefs coach Cooper did not make too many changes to his side with Harris that will have a rest this week.
His place will be taken by Taukei’aho at hooker with Slater joining the squad on the bench.
Weber will start in his 70th match for the Chiefs with Debreczeni moving to ten and McKenzie going to cover from the bench.
Anton Lienert-Brown also returns from his week off and start in the midfield with Nanivelle.
We also see Wainui starting at the wing in the absence of Nanai-Seturo who is with the U20’s.
The Crusaders will have Kieran Read, Billy Harmon, Mitch Drummond and Braydon Ennor back in the starting XV.
Harmon comes in for Matt Todd who is being rested this week. Read’s return is a major boost for the team and I am sure Hansen will also be glad to see his captain getting back on the field.
With Read back Douglas moves to the side of the scrum and Taufua to the bench.
Hall and Bridge will take their place on the bench with Drummond and Ennor starting the game for the champions.
We expect a massive clash with some great running rugby from both sides.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The Crusaders have won their last five Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Chiefs, this after having won only one of their seven games against them prior (L6).
- The Chiefs have led at half-time in four of their last five Super Rugby games at home against the Crusaders; however, they’ve gone on to pick up just two wins in that period.
- Eight of the Chiefs’ last nine Super Rugby games as hosts have been decided by a single-digit margin, including their last five on the bounce across which they’ve picked up three wins and a draw (L1).
- The Chiefs have won only one of their last eight derbies in Super Rugby (D2, L5); though, that victory came in their last all-New Zealand clash as hosts.
- The Crusaders have conceded just one try in each of their last three games away from home in Super Rugby, scoring 14 of their own in reply in that time.
- The Crusaders have failed to score 20 points in either of their last two Super Rugby games; the last time they went longer without breaking the 20-point barrier was a three-game stint in March-April 2013.
- The Chiefs have conceded the fewest penalties per game (8) of any team this Super Rugby campaign, while their total of two yellow cards is also a joint league-low.
- The Crusaders have scored more tries (59) and points (404) than any other team thus far in Super Rugby 2019.
- The Chiefs have had six different players attempt a place kick for goal in Super Rugby 2019, more than any other club in the competition (Damian McKenzie, Marty McKenzie, Brad Weber, Jack Debreczeni, Stephen Donald, Shaun Stevenson).
- George Bridge (Crusaders) is on a four-game tryless streak, his longest since a nine-game stretch in 2017; however, he has crossed for a five-pointer in each of his last two games against the Chiefs.
Prediction: Anything can happen when teams want to make the playoffs but unfortunately I can not see the Chiefs getting one over the Saders, Saders by 13
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 George Bower, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge.
Chiefs – 15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Atu Moli.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Daymon Leasuasu, 20 Mitchell Jacobson, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Tumua Manu.