PREVIEW: Crusaders v Chiefs

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Thursday, March 7, 2019    Getty Images

Match details:
Crusaders v Chiefs, Christchurch, 5.15pm, Saturday March 9. TICKETS.

Played: 33
Won: Crusaders 20, Chiefs 13
Last time: Crusaders 34, Chiefs 20 (2 June 2018)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill


It will be the top of the New Zealand conference against the bottom of the conference in Christchurch. The Crusaders started the season with a tight win over the Blues before picking up comfortable wins over the Hurricanes and Reds to sit at the top of the ladder. The Chiefs came up short against the Highlanders 27-30 in round one but have since been thumped by both the Brumbies and Sunwolves to remain winless. 


Any team that can roll out world class attacking threats like Damian McKenzie, Solomon Alaimalo and Anton Lienert-Brown in their starting line-up deserves to be taken seriously. When adding in exciting young game-breaker Etene Nanai-Seturo and two quality halfbacks in Brad Weber and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, the Chiefs have the ability to hurt any team in the competition. Although the Crusaders are one of the most defensively sound units in the competition, they will need to be at their best to contain a Chiefs side desperate to get their first win in 2019.

With Sam Cane yet to return from injury, Lachlan Boshier has taken over the mantle as the leading defender for the Chiefs. The 24-year-old loose forward has made 33 tackles in the opening three rounds, the most of any player who is yet to miss an attempt. For the Crusaders, Whetu Douglas (41 tackles) and Matt Todd (35 tackles) have been at their hard-working best.
In the regular season, the Chiefs have won three of their last four away games against the Crusaders.

The Crusaders are aiming for a remarkable 22nd straight victory at home while the Chiefs have lost their last four Super Rugby games stretching back to 2018. On statistics alone the average punter wouldn’t give the Chiefs much hope of toppling the defending champions. Fortunately for the Chiefs the game is not played out on paper and they have a chance to throw a major spanner in the works of the competition. With a backline full of game breakers and a pack including Brodie Retallick, Nathan Harris and Nepo Laulala, the Chiefs could well pull off the unthinkable in Christchurch.

15: Will Jordan 14: Sevu Reece 13: Jack Goodhue 12: Ryan Crotty (C) 11: Braydon Ennor 10: Richie Mo’unga 9: Ere Enari 8: Whetu Douglas 7: Billy Harmon 6: Jordan Taufua 5: Scott Barrett 4: Mitchell Dunshea 3: Michael Alaalatoa 2: Andrew Makalio 1: Joe Moody
Reserves: Codie Taylor, Harry Allan, George Bower, Luke Romano, Ethan Blackadder, Bryn Hall, Brett Camerson, David Havili

15: Solomon Alaimalo 14: Sean Wainui 13: Tumua Manu 12: Anton Lienert-Brown 11: Etene Nanai-Seturo 10: Damian McKenzie 9: Brad Weber 8: Taleni Seu 7: Lachlan Boshier 6: Mitchell Brown 5: Tyler Ardron 4: Brodie Retallick 3: Nepo Laulala 2: Nathan Harris 1: Aidan Ross
Reserves: Samison Taukei’aho, Tevita Mafileo, Angus Ta’avao, Jesse Parete, Mitchell Karpik, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Jack Debreczeni, Alex Nankivell