PREVIEW: Crusaders v Hurricanes

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Thursday, February 21, 2019    Getty Images

Match details: Crusaders v Hurricanes, Christchurch Stadium, 7.35pm Saturday 23 February (GET TICKETS)

Played: 35
Won: Crusaders 20, Hurricanes 12
Drawn: Three
Last time: Crusaders 30, Hurricanes 12 (28 July 2018)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Both teams came away with a win in round one, but only by the skin of their teeth. A late try to debutant Du Plessis Kirifi gave the Hurricanes a 19-20 win over the Waratahs in Sydney while the Crusaders held out the Blues 24-22 at Eden Park. For the Crusaders, youngster Braydon Ennor was a stand out in the midfield with 80 run metres, three clean breaks and eight defenders beaten. All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea shone for the Hurricanes with an energetic display that included 10 tackles, a number of his trademark ball carries and a well taken try. 


The Hurricanes have made a number of changes to the side that beat the Waratahs last week with some brought on by injury and others due to the All Blacks’ return to play protocol. Regular starting backs TJ Perenara and Ngani Laumape have been moved to the bench to manage their workload while Ardie Savea is out altogether due to a knee strain. Fletcher Smith starts at first five-eighth with Beauden Barrett’s return to Super Rugby set to be another week away at least. The biggest talking point out of the Crusaders camp is the return of Jack Goodhue at centre to partner Ryan Crotty in an all-star midfield.


Last year Ben Lam and George Bridge were part of a captivating race to the top of the try-scoring ladder. Ben Lam ended the season with an all-time Super Rugby record of 16 tries in a single season while George Bridge was just one behind on 15 tries. Neither player managed to dot down in round one but will be eager to get over the chalk this weekend and challenge for the top try scorer mantle again in 2019.
Victory for the Crusaders will bring up a club record of 17-straight Super Rugby wins. They previously won 16 straight games between April 2005 and April 2006.

There’s no harder challenge in Super Rugby than to take on the defending champions the Crusaders on their home patch. When adding in the fact that the Hurricanes are missing some of their top performers and the Crusaders are chasing a club record of 17 straight wins, the task seems markedly harder. The Crusaders should have too much firepower for the Hurricanes but expect a fierce battle all the way to the final whistle given the depth of the rivalry between these two teams.

David Havili, Manasa Mataele, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Matt Todd (captain), Jordan Taufua, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Harry Allan, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor.

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, Finlay Christie, Gareth Evans, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (captain), Chris Eves. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Ben May, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Henwood, TJ Perenara, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ngani Laumape.