Crusaders v Hurricanes preview




Jade Stadium, Christchurch, 19.35 (07.35 GMT)

The Hurricanes have only ever once won in Christchurch (back in 2001) and their last victory against the Crusaders was three years ago, in Wellington.

Overall, in 14 Super Rugby encounters between the two sides, the Hurricanes have managed just three wins.

However, ‘Canes hardman Jerry Collins does not believe in statistics and remains confident the Class of 2007 will produce the kind of performance that will secure a win and keep their S14 play-off hopes alive.

He also felt last year’s Final will have no bearing on what happens this week.

“Half of the guys that will play on Friday did not play in last year’s Final [at a misty Jade Stadium],” he said, adding that he simply does not believe in looking to past results for guidance as to what will happen now.

“The record books are for those dudes who sit in front of the TV and eat twisties, and sit with their clipboards,” Collins said.

The Crusaders have also made it clear that past events will have no bearing on this game.

In fact it is certain personnel changes in the Hurricanes team that will ensure the Crusaders remained focussed.

Utility back Scott Hamilton said the selection of scrum-half Piri Weepu at fly-half has changed the dynamics of the Crusaders altogether.

“There is a solidity to his game,” Hamilton said.

However, the ‘Canes have other equally effective “weapons of mass destruction” – the loose trio of Rodney So’oialo, Jerry Collins and Chris Masoe.

They are up against Richard McCaw, Mose Tuiali’i and young Kieran Read.

The battle of the breakdown will certainly be crucial in the final wash.

There are also other reasons why this game will be a cracker. The desperation for points to stay in the play-off hunt will raise the bar considerable.

‘Canes coach Colin Cooper also spoke of the fact that defeat could rule his team out of the play-off race.

“The game and the position we’re in and the respect we have for the Crusaders is enough motivation to get up for this one,” Cooper said.

Prediction: The Crusaders have looked ominous in recent weeks and even on a bad day – like the outing they had against the Waratahs a couple of weeks ago – they are good enough for a win. The Hurricanes will need something very special and they haven’t looked like producing it this year. The Crusaders will overcome some initial resistance win convincingly. The Crusaders by 15 points.


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

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Paul Tito/Luke Andrews, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Tone Kopelani, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Luke Andrews/Bernie Upton, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 Jimmy Gopperth, 21 David Smith, 22 Tana Umaga.

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

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