Crusaders want to maintain winning rhythm

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Thursday, April 27, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Bryn Hall will start at halfback with Mitchell Drummond back on the bench.

Assistant coach Jason Ryan said the management wanted to keep rhythm in the side which they felt they achieved against the Stormers and with three South African games in a row they didn't want to change too much.


"They're a really proud team and if you look at all the games they've started really fast and they've also got a lot of variation to their game so undoubtedly it will be a tough contest and we've prepared for that," he said.

The side's defensive effort had been solid where they had made some good inroads with their defence and line speed against the Stormers and they wanted to grow that effort against the South African sides. But on the other hand they had shown they could hold the ball for long phases, with 16 preceding a try just before half-time last week, and they would be looking to do that in African conditions.

Flanker Matt Todd said it had been a physical challenge against the Stormers who had been going very well up until they met the Crusaders.

"The boys responded to the challenge but there was no doubt there were some sore bodies after that game," he said.

But the side's medical team made sure the side recovered well from their lengthy travel from Christchurch to Bloemfontein.

"They've got the bodies right so we can build up this week for another big game this weekend," he said.

The side were aware of the impact the Cheetahs had when getting 24-0 up before the Chiefs ground their way back into the game two weeks ago.

"The boys have talked about that, we're aware they are a fast-starting team. They fly out of the blocks and we know we have to start well and we also know that if you give them too much ball in good position they will make you pay.

"They like to use the ball, chuck it around and they've got some very dangerous backs so we've certainly talked about how we limit how much possession we give them and making sure that if we do have to kick that we kick on our terms," he said.

"They play the game at pace, are unconventional and will try tap kicks and little chip kicks and they'll attack from anywhere on the field so you can never really switch off. If you give away a penalty you can't turn your back because they'll quick tap and be off."

Todd will play his 100th Super Rugby game for the Crusaders in Bloemfontein – he reached his 100th first-class game for the side last week, having made one appearance against England – and said it was a nice feeling having grown up in the Canterbury region to play 100 games for the side he had watched as a youngster.

He said it was a milestone he would probably think about more when he retired from the game.