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PREVIEW: Brumbies v Crusaders

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Friday, April 22, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 9: Brumbies v Crusaders, Sunday 24 April, 6.05pm (NZT), Canberra

TALE OF THE TAPE
This is a clash of two teams in hot form. The Crusaders have won six in a row while the Brumbies have won five out of seven. Recent history gives the edge to the Crusaders. The red and blacks have won their last five matches against the Brumbies, racking up almost 40 points per game in the process. The Brumbies are a tougher prospect at home though and will be hoping their faithful fans can give them the advantage in Australia’s capital.
FAMILY BUSINESS
Mate v mate? In the case of the Crusaders and Brumbies it is family v family. On the reserves bench, Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa will face his brother Allan in the Brumbies while Nemani Nadolo will keep a close eye on his cousin Tevita Kuridrani in the backline. Ahead of the clash, Allan Alaalatoa told brumbies.com.au: “We’re both excited with the opportunity we’re going to get. Obviously we’re going to play against each other and my family is coming down and watching the game.”

CROTTY-LESS

The Crusaders have lost 100 caps of Super Rugby experience with Ryan Crotty being ruled out through a hamstring injury. The classy mid-fielder has brought direction and defensive steel to the Crusaders backline this year and will be sorely missed in this clash. The new mid-field combination of Kieron Fonotia and David Havili will have to work in unison to combat the dynamic Brumbies pairing of Tevita Kuridrani and Matt Toomua.

SECOND ROW STRENGTH
Scott Barrett and Luke Romano did such a good job in the engine room against the Jaguares that Coach Todd Blackadder has retained the pair this week at the expense of All Black Sam Whitelock. Barrett has been a revelation for the Crusaders this year. Proficient at the set piece and strong with ball in hand, the younger brother of All Blacks star Beauden Barrett is fast working himself into the reckoning for higher honours.

X-FACTOR
This game is sure to be a tight contest and could be decided by one moment of individual brilliance. Both teams are scattered with quality players who could provide just that moment. For the Crusaders, Israel Dagg showed last week that he is still capable of blowing a game wide open while Jone Macilai and Nemani Nadolo can score from anywhere on the park. The Brumbies boast one of the hottest players in the competition in Joe Tomane while Tevita Kuridrani and Christian Lealiifano are noted game-breakers.
TEAMS
Brumbies: 15: Aidan Toua 14: Robbie Coleman 13: Tevita Kuridrani 12: Matt Toomua 11: Joe Tomane 10: Christian Lealiifano 9: Tomas Cubelli 8: Jordan Smiler 7: Jarrad Butler 6: Scott Fardy 5: Sam Carter 4: Rory Arnold 3: Ben Alexander 2: Stephen Moore (C) 1: Scott Sio
Reserves: 16: Josh Mann-Rea 17: Allan Alaalatoa 18: Leslie Leulua’iali’i 19:Tom Stainiforth 20: Michael Wells 21: Michael Dowsett 22: James Dargaville 23: Nigel Ah Wong

Crusaders: 15: Israel Dagg 14: Jone Macilai 13: Kieron Fonotia 12: David Havili 11: Nemani Nadolo 10: Richie Mo’unga 9: Andy Ellis 8: Kieran Read 7: Matt Todd 6: Jordan Taufua 5: Scott Barrett 4: Luke Romano 3: Owen Franks 2: Codie Taylor 1: Joe Moody
Reserves: 16: Ged Robinson 17: Wyatt Crockett 18: Mike Alaalatoa 19: Sam Whitelock 20: Tim Boys 21: Mitchell Drummond 22: Sean Wainui 23: Marty McKenzie