PREVIEW: Crusaders v Kings

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Thursday, March 17, 2016    Getty Images

ROUND FOUR: Crusaders v Kings, Saturday 19 March, 7.35pm, Christchurch

In the one previous encounter between these two sides in 2013, the Crusaders ran away with a convincing 55-20 win. The Kings have struggled on their return to Super Rugby this year, conceding 101 points across two games and failing to secure a competition point. The Port Elizabeth-based side will need to improve their defence and ball retention if they are to compete against the Crusaders.

This stage is set for some Nemani Nadolo heroics. The forecast is for a warm evening in Christchurch, the Kings defence has leaked 13 tries and Nadolo is in ominous form. After turning the Blues defence on its head last week, Nadolo will be looking to cash in with some tries of his own and bring the home crowd to its feet against the Kings. CLICK HERE to get your tickets to see the action unfold LIVE!

Not wanted after stints with the Sharks and Cheetahs, 25-year-old lock JC Astle is making his mark with the Kings. Noted as a strong lineout exponent, Astle has 11 takes from just two matches to underscore his ability at the set piece. At 6’6 and 105kg, Astle will test the Crusaders with his mobility around the park and high work rate.

Crusaders and All Blacks veteran Wyatt Crockett gets his first start in the front row with the resting of Joe Moody. The 154-cap Crusader will be looking for a big performance against the Kings to reclaim the number one jersey from the dynamic Moody. It will be a new-look front row for the Crusaders with Ben Funnel coming in for All Black Codie Taylor while Owen Franks keeps his place on the tighthead side of the scrum.

Crusaders: 15: Ben VolaVola 14: Johnny McNicholl 13: Kieran Fonotia 12: David Havili 11: Nemani Nadolo 10: Richie Mo’unga 9: Mitchell Drummond 8: Jimmy Tupou 7: Matt Todd 6: Jordan Taufua 5: Samuel Whitelock (C) 4: Luke Romano 3: Owen Franks 2: Ben Funnel 1: Wyatt Crockett

Reserves: Ged Robinson, Alex Hodgman, Mike Alaalatoa, Tim Boys, Pete Samu, Leon Fukafuka, Ryan Crotty, Jone Macilai

Kings: 15: Jurgen Visser 14: Luzuko Vulindlu 13: Stefan Watermeyer 12: Shane Gates 11: Malcolm Jaer 10: Louis Fouche 9: Kevin Luiters 8: Jacques Engelbrecht 7: Thembelani Bholi 6: Chris Cloete 5: JC Astle 4: Steven Sykes 3: Jacobie Adriaanse 2: Martin Ferreira 1: Schalk Ferreira

Reserves: Edgard Maruttule, Sti Sithole, Tom Botha, Schalk Oeloise, CJ Vellemann, Ntando Kebe, Elgar Watts, JP Du Plessis