June 28, 2020

Preview: Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa – Crusaders v Chiefs

The Crusaders get their first home game of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa on Sunday and it is against a Gallagher Chiefs side who are hurting. Having not won a game so far in this competition, they are desperate to get on the board. The Crusaders however, looked their dangerous best at times against the Hurricanes last week.

But will be wanting to sort out their discipline at the breakdown, having had a few issues adjusting to the way it’s being officiated. We’re hoping the rain can stay away for these two sides to showcase their brilliant and exhilarating brands of rugby.

Match Details: Sunday 28 June, 3:35pm, Orangetheory Stadium Christchurch
Referee: James Doleman
Played: 36
Won: Crusaders 21, Chiefs 15
Last match: Chiefs 25 Crusaders 15 on 8/2/2020
Watch: Sky Sport 1

The Gallagher Chiefs know they need to be much better and they find themselves almost in must-win territory, having lost their two opening games of the 10-week competition. They haven’t been trounced in either match, but they are struggling to make the most of key opportunities and errors have been slipping into their game. Gallagher Chiefs assistant coach Neil Barnes said during the week that they expect a response form their troops this weekend. The Crusaders will now be led by hooker Codie Taylor after the club confirmed regular skipper Scott Barrett will miss the remainder of the season, requiring surgery on an injured foot. Taylor relished his first opportunity to lead the Crusaders against the Hurricanes last weekend and will captain them for the rest of the campaign. Their penalty count was high on Sunday, but they scored a try in the opening minute of the match and although the score was tied up with 10 minutes to go, the Crusaders never looked like losing. Expect them to be on form in front of their home fans.

Finally, we get to see Sam Cane in action in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. The new All Blacks skipper has been out of action for their last two matches with a back strain but is back to lead the Gallagher Chiefs against the Crusaders. Cane joins a more experienced Gallagher Chiefs line up this weekend, with lock Mitchell Brown also returning from injury alongside Mitchell Karpik who’s on the bench. Cane’s return sees turnover master Lachlan Boshier shift back to the blindside. It will be Cane’s first appearance since being named All Blacks captain. Gallagher Chiefs fans and New Zealand rugby fans alike will be stoked to see the 28-year-old back.

The Crusaders have named an unchanged 23 to face the Gallagher Chiefs and we’re looking forward to the matchup between the blindside flankers. Cullen Grace up against Lachlan Boshier. Both have huge work rates. Boshier had made the most turnovers in Super Rugby before the break and in the new competition, both player’s tackle success rate is over 87%. They are very evenly matched; 191cm plays 190cm and 104kg plays 106kg. This promises to be an exciting battle and it will be interesting to see how they go with the new breakdown interpretations.

Speaking of Cullen Grace. He was just 16 and playing First-XV rugby for Timaru Boys’ High School the last time the Crusaders lost in Christchurch. Their last loss at home in Super Rugby came against the Hurricanes in the final round of 2016. On the 3rd of May last year, the Crusaders drew with the visiting Sharks, meaning their record is an undefeated streak rather than a winning one. On Sunday afternoon, the Crusaders are going for 35 undefeated games on the trot in front of their home fans.

Occasional rain is expected to clear in the morning, and then it’s set to become fine. You’ll have to wrap up warm though, with a high of 14 degrees expected and a low of 1 degree.

The Gallagher Chiefs have won each of their last two Super Rugby matches against the Crusaders, despite trailing at half-time in each of those games.

If recent matches are anything to go by, expect to see Sevu Reece score for the Crusaders on Sunday. He’s scored five tries in his last five Super Rugby games against New Zealand opposition.

Crusaders: 1. Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor © 3. Michael Alaalatoa 4. Samuel Whitelock 5. Mitchell Dunshea 6. Cullen Grace 7. Billy Harmon 8. Whetukamokamo Douglas 9. Bryn Hall 10. Richie Mo’unga 11. George Bridge 12. Jack Goodhue 13. Braydon Ennor 14. Sevu Reece 15. Will Jordan

Reserves: 16. Brodie McAlister 17. George Bower 18. Oliver Jager 19. Luke Romano 20. Ethan Blackadder 21. Mitchell Drummond 22. David Havili (vc) 23. Leicester Faingaanuku

Gallagher Chiefs: 1. Aidan Ross 2. Bradley Slater 3. Nepo Laulala 4. Mitchell Brown 5. Naitoa Ah Kuoi 6. Lachlan Boshier 7. Sam Cane © 8. Pita Gus Sowakula 9. Brad Weber 10. Aaron Cruden 11. Sean Wainui 12. Anton Lienert-Brown 13. Quinn Tupaea 14. Solomon Alaimalo 15. Damian McKenzie

Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho 17. Reuben O’Neill 18. Ross Geldenhuys 19. Adam Thompson 20. Mitchell Karpik 21. Lisati Milo-Harris 22. Kaleb Trask 23. Tumua Manu

Preview: Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa – Crusaders v Chiefs