Planet Rugby

Preview: Crusaders v Highlanders

19th April 2013 07:53

Share:

Zac Guildford in the clear for Crusaders

Starting chance: Zac Guildford

Saturday's first of four derbies kick off in Christchurch where the ninth-placed Crusaders tackle Super Rugby basement franchise the Highlanders.

Asked pre-tournament the majority would have most probably predicted these two sides to be battling at the top of New Zealand's conference.

However things have not gone as planned for the duo as Saturday's hosts have been beset with injuries while the Highlanders are worse.

Jamie Joseph was this week given the backing of Highlanders general manager Roger Clark but it remains to be seen whether that is the old kiss of death. After spending on the likes of Brad Thorn, Ma'a Nonu and Tony Woodcock, a zero from seven record could not have been imagined by the board in Dunedin. That unfortunately is the case and their most recent loss against the Brumbies - their fifth on home soil in 2013 - reinforced how much of a pickle they are in.

What they won't want mentioning is that it's now ten-straight losses dating back to June.

Climbing out of the mire does not get any easier this week and wouldn't it just be the icing on the cake if old boy Israel Dagg kicked them while they are down. The Crusaders full-back was back in top form last weekend - despite being on the losing side - and is a key threat.

Another player Todd Blackadder can be impressed by is young back-row Jordan Taufua, who again made an impact off the bench last week and has a big future. It seems a new batch of Crusaders is on its way as Luke Whitelock and Dominic Bird learn their trade.

Taufua doesn't yet get his starting chance as Matt Todd returns to solidify the back-row while Sam Whitelock is also back, alongside Zac Guildford, who is in for Adam Whitelock. That means four Whitelocks are again in the squad while cousin Ben Funnell is on the bench.

For the Highlanders there is no Kade Poki or Buxton Popuali'i so Tony Ensor gets a run on the wing while Jason Emery faces a defensive test up against Robbie Fruean. It doesn't get any easier for Joseph too as number eight Mose Tuiali'i has sustained a knee injury ahead of a clash that could lead to them being kicked whilst they are down. When it rains it pours.

Prediction: The hosts will have too much on home soil. The Crusaders to win by 12!

The teams:

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (c), 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Tony Ensor, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (capt), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Jamie Mackintosh, 19 Elliot Dixon, 20 Fumiaka Tanaka, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Jake Paringatai.

Date: Saturday, April 20
Kick-off: 19:35 (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

  • Super Rugby Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , April 19
Sharks vs CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Preview
Stormers vs LionsStormers vs Lions Preview
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
Friday , May 2
Blues vs Reds19:35
Melbourne Rebels vs Sharks19:40
More Super Rugby fixtures
  • Super Rugby Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
Saturday , April 12
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Friday , April 11
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
  • Super Rugby Table
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Sharks727
2Brumbies825
3Chiefs825
4Waratahs824
5Western Force823
6Crusaders822
7Hurricanes821
8Highlanders719
9Bulls919
10Lions816
11Blues816
12Reds816
13Melbourne Rebels816
14Cheetahs89
15Stormers76
Australian Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Brumbies825
2Waratahs824
3Western Force823
4Reds816
5Melbourne Rebels816
New Zealand Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Chiefs825
2Crusaders822
3Hurricanes821
4Blues816
5Highlanders615
South African Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Sharks727
2Bulls919
3Lions816
4Cheetahs89
5Stormers66