PREVIEW: Brumbies v Crusaders
Friday, April 27, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Won: Crusaders 16, Brumbies 6
Since twin losses to the Hurricanes and Highlanders, the Crusaders have bounced back resoundingly with victories over Bulls, Lions, Jaguares and Sunwolves to sit atop the NZ Conference. Their attacking game has been particularly efficient with an average of 4.6 tries per match – more than any other New Zealand side. The Brumbies have been a real mixed bag this season with three wins and five losses. Their best performance was a 45-21 victory over the Reds in round eight.
QUICK TAP: CRUSADERS PREPARED FOR STEELY BRUMBIES CHALLENGE
Veteran 35-year-old first five-eighth Mike Delany did enough in his first Super Rugby start for six years to earn the nod at number 10 again from coach Scott Robertson. The Crusaders coach said Delany and Mitch Hunt are creating great competition in the squad with Richie Mo’unga out injured. “Mike came on and did a job and played extremely well against the Sunwolves. We have kept some faith and know how the mix works. Mitch Hunt can come on and close a game as well, he is really skilled at it,” Robertson said.
It has been almost two years since an Australian team defeated a New Zealand side in Super Rugby, with Kiwi sides going on a 35-match unbeaten streak against Australian opponents since the Waratahs victory over the Chiefs in May 2016. The Brumbies will take no confidence from their recent record against the Crusaders which includes seven straight losses. The Brumbies last win at home against the Crusaders was an 18-16 thriller in 2009.
History is against the Brumbies but the Crusaders cannot afford to take them lightly in Canberra. Despite missing key players David Pocock and Christian Lealiifano, the Brumbies will be desperate to perform in lock Sam Carter’s 100th game for the side. In outside backs Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight, the Brumbies have the firepower to rock the Crusaders. But the question is whether the Brumbies defence can hold for the full 80 minutes against an unrelenting Crusaders side.
Brumbies: Tom Banks, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, Chance Peni, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, Tom Cusack, Blake Enever, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga'a, Scott Sio. Res: Robbie Abel, Faalelei Sione, Ben Alexander, Darcy Swain, Lolo Fakaosilea, Matt Lucas, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Andrew Muirhead.
Crusaders: David Havili, Israel Dagg, Tim Bateman, Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, Mike Delany, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Tim Perry
Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele
Be part of the action this weekend and #DontMissAThing!
???: Hurricanes v Sunwolves: https://t.co/vW5s9XMn9S
???: Blues v Jaguares: https://t.co/PRjjhdvKx9#SuperRugby pic.twitter.com/5w5LIUExoe— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 26, 2018
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