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Preview: Crusaders v Stormers

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Thursday, March 6, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 19, Crusaders 14, Stormers 4, Drawn 1

LAST TIME: Stormers 14 lost to Crusaders 19 at Cape Town, March 30, 2013

WALKING WOUNDED: The Crusaders have suffered a massive loss in flanker Richie McCaw. His broken thumb will keep him out for more than the first half of the competition and while he has a good replacement on hand in Matt Todd, there is still a wealth of experience lost to the side. George Whitelock has an adductor strain and his replaced by brother Luke. In the backs Nafi Tuitavake has a hamstring strain and his place is taken by Israel Dagg. The Stormers will miss lock Rynhardt Elstadt who is returning home with a shoulder injury which could keep him out of action for six weeks. Loose forward Siya Kolisi has an AC joint injury and has been given this week off. The Stormers are already down on locking resources after Argentinian Manuel Carizza was unable to tour due to a wrist injury. De Kock Steenkamp will make his first appearance at lock this year after a groin injury delayed his start. Flanker Schalk Burger is also back in the team after a groin strain prevented him from playing against the Hurricanes.

FORM: The Crusaders are still to get a point in the competition while the Stormers were lucky to get their first, just, over the Hurricanes in Cape Town last week. It is individual lapses that have proven costly for the Crusaders. They were unable to shut down a Blues side that was rampant through the middle stages of last weekend's game in Auckland and it is that area that will need to be dealt with on Saturday. The Stormers have issues in their attacking game but they remain a formidable unit up front who can take advantage of indiscretions by opponents. The need for discipline will have been hammered home to the Crusaders to eliminate this area of scoring from the visitors' plans.

WE THINK: Given yet another physical blow to Cantabrians this week with the flooding in the city they will have plenty of incentive to turn on the power for their fans. That will unite them and they should produce a big defensive effort. The Stormers have had their own plans disrupted due to the weather in Christchurch and will need a massive uplift in their form to overcome a home side which may just be in the mood to demonstrate they are not yet a spent force.

TEAMS:

Crusaders:
1.Wyatt Crockett, 2.Corey Flynn, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Luke Romano, 5.Samuel Whitelock, 6.Luke Whitelock, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Kieran Read (captain), 9. Willi Heinz, 10.Tom Taylor, 11.Israel Dagg, 12.Ryan Crotty, 13.Rey Lee-Lo, 14.Johnny McNicholl, 15.Colin Slade.

Reserves: 16.Ben Funnell, 17.Tim Perry, 18.Nepo Laulala, 19.Dominic Bird, 20.Jordan Taufua, 21.Andy Ellis, 22.Tyer Bleyendaal, 23.Keiron Fonotia.


Stormers:
1. Steven Kitshoff, 2.Scarra Ntubeni, 3.Frans Malherbe, 4.Michael Rhodes, 5.De Kock Steenkamp, 6.Deon Fourie, 7.Schalk Burger, 8.Duane Vermeulen, 9.Nic Groom, 10.Demetri Catrakilis, 11.Gio Aplon, 12.Damian de Allende, 13.Jean de Villiers (captain), 14.Kobus van Wyk, 15.Jaco Taute.

Reserves: 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