Crusaders

Thorne moves to lock for ‘Canes clash

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There are five changes to the Crusaders side to face the Hurricanes in a Super 14 crunch match at Jade Stadium in Christchurch on Friday.

Three of the personnel changes, to the XV which started last weekend’s 38-3 win over the Highlanders at Dunedin, have come in the backline with the other two up front.

Of the backline changes, one has been caused by injury with Rua Tipoki coming in at inside centre for Aaron Mauger, who has not yet fully recovered from the groin strain he suffered against the Highlanders.

That allows Tipoki, who recently returned from a hamstring injury himself, to play his sixth match for the Crusaders and the 48th of his Super rugby career, after scoring a try during his time on the field as a replacement at Carisbrook.

Winger Rico Gear is also back, after being rested from last weekend’s trip to Dunedin. He returns in the place of Scott Hamilton, who moves to the replacement bench.

Crusaders coaches Robbie Deans and Mark Hammett have also opted to continue with their policy of rotating the team’s two scrum-halves. That means Andrew Ellis, who scored a try against the Hurricanes in Wellington last year, will start this week while Kevin Senio comes off the bench.

In the forwards Reuben Thorne starts in the second row after finishing last weekend’s match against the Highlanders at lock. It is a position Thorne is well acquainted with.

He started his Crusaders career as a lock, coming off the bench against the Reds in 1997, and played 11 matches from the position in 1998 before becoming a specialist blindside flanker. Last year, Thorne started three matches of the Crusade at lock and has deputised in the position in-game on a regular number of occasions in recent seasons.

Thorne’s move, in the place of Isaac Ross who goes to the bench, makes room for the inclusion of Kieran Read on the blindside flank.

The well performed Read has appeared in all 10 competition matches played by the Crusaders to date, having started in the position in the opening six games of the campaign.

The final change comes in the front row where the versatile Ben Franks swaps sides, with Wyatt Crockett coming into loosehead prop while Campbell Johnstone goes to the bench.

This change, which Hammett says is associated with sharing the players’ work load, was also employed during the Crusaders’ 49-28 win over the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein in week four of the competition.

“The changes are purely related to what suits us, in terms of the best combination, for every week,” Deans says.

“Obviously Aaron’s injury has been a factor this week but, while we’ve tinkered with the team slightly for each game, the core group has largely remained the same.

“Having said that, Friday night presents a significant challenge. We are playing against an experienced side that is full of quality players and is effectively playing for its season, which will only add to their motivation. Meeting them at this stage will be a good test of our development as a group.”

The match brings together the two teams that contested the inaugural Super 14 final. While the Crusaders lead the overall rivalry 10 wins to three, with one draw, the Hurricanes have enjoyed previous success in Christchurch.

The Hurricanes won 41-29 at Jade in 2001, while the 1999 fixture between the two teams at the ground ended in an 18-18 draw.

The Hurricanes’ most recent win in this contest was in 2004, when they beat the final-bound Crusaders 37-20 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Rua Tipoki, 11 Caleb Ralph, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Kieran Read, 5 Reuben Thorne, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Campbell Johnstone, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Johnny Leo’o, 20 Kevin Senio, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Scott Hamilton

Date: Friday, 20 April
Venue: Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Steve Walsh (New Zealand), Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel

 

365 Digital

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