Planet Rugby

Preview: Crusaders v Hurricanes

26th March 2014 22:40

Share:

owen franks ben franks hurricanes crusaders

Franks on Franks: Friday

Round Seven of Super Rugby kicks-off with another New Zealand derby as the Crusaders host the Hurricanes, with both teams desperate for points.

AMI Stadium is the venue for this clash as the attack-minded 'Canes look to inflict a second home loss of 2014 on Todd Blackadder's men.

The Hurricanes have scored 91 points in the last two outings while the Crusaders have amassed only 73 in all four of their games so one gets a sense this one will see two styles collide. The question is though, will the home pack do the necessary damage as defence ekes out a win.

It has been a long time, possibly the first ever, since we did not know what Crusaders side would turn up for a match but that is where things stand presently after two defeats in their opening four games. All four of those clashes have seen the winner prevail by eleven points or less, with their biggest defeat coming against the attacking potency of the Blues, before they edged out the Stormers and Rebels in recent weekends.

Whether they have turned the corner is difficult to assess and while we're sure many will say the Chiefs were fortunate to win by eight in that opening match - a long-range intercept for replacement James Lowe ultimately sealing the victory - the seven-time Super Rugby champions don't look the force they once were.

That issue has subsequently seen Blackadder change things up in his backline as three players have worn number ten in their opening games, with Colin Slade retained this week following the bye. He continues alongside Andy Ellis in what is an unchanged backline from the Rebels' scalp. In fact there is just one alteration to the 23 as loosehead prop Daniel Lienert-Brown comes in for Tim Perry, who is nursing a hamstring strain, on the bench.

As mentioned, their opponents this week enter Christchurch on the back of improved performances which saw them beat the Cheetahs before going down 35-31 at the Highlanders. Unlike the Crusaders, they have had no such trouble scoring tries but as always, their underbelly is a concern so the spotlight will again focus on how they front up.

The last time these two outfits met at AMI Stadium was in June last year as the Crusaders won 25-17, but that was a backline that included the likes of Daniel Carter, Tom Marshall and Zac Guildford. The loss of Marshall's underrated work has been a bigger blow than possibly expected while Johnny McNicholl has not yet blossomed into the wing many were expecting, with All Black full-back Israel Dagg also out of form thus far in black and red.

If, and this also goes for Dagg due to Ben Smith's excellent form for the Highlanders, they do not buck up their ideas, missing out on bigger and better things will happen.

Prediction: While they have looked much better of late, the 'Canes are not the Chiefs and winning at AMI will be a task too big in size at the current time. The home pack should have enough and while they won't score many, Taylor will kick enough. Crusaders by 10!

The teams:

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieran Fonotia, 23 Nemani Nadolo.

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Marty Banks.

Date: Friday, March 28
Venue: AMI Stadium
Kickoff: 19:35 (local, 06:35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Watt (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
Friday , December 5
Brive vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Rovigo18:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Stade Francais20:00
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath 25 - 6 HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Report
Munster 21 - 20 UlsterMunster vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath933
2Northampton830
3Exeter828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821