Battle of the Rugby Titans

Top teams clash in Christchurch

By Roger Childs

The Crusaders are a hard team to beat at home

It’s the Super Rugby match fans have been eagerly awaiting. At AMI Stadium in Christchurch tonight the top of the table Crusaders play the second placed Hurricanes. A win to the latter will give them the number one spot in the New Zealand franchise.

When it comes to finals time in the competition that top spot means playing at home for those games and no travelling to Australia or South Africa.

The Hurricanes won the first match between the two sides in Wellington two months ago, however home advantage tonight should give the Crusaders the edge.

Punishing mistakes

Brad Shields has been playing very well for the Hurricanes

Both teams will be very conscious of the need to keep errors to a minimum. The Canterbury based team made a number of mistakes in the first half of the match against the Waratahs a couple of weeks ago and were 29-0 down after 30 minutes.

Then in their game against the Reds last weekend, the Hurricanes were guilty of sloppy play, giving the ball away and missing tackles, and had to dig deep to get the narrow victory.

Both teams playing tonight are very capable to capitalizing on mistakes made by the other side..

Strong backlines and forward packs

The Hurricanes probably have the edge with six All Blacks in the back division. Perenara at half back is in great form, the Barrett brothers are capable of magic and  the one non-All Black, Ben Lam, has touched down 14 times this year: one off the record.

However, for the Crusaders, George Bridge, Richie  Mo’unga and Sata Tamanivalu are talented players who are capable of rapidly turning defence into attack.

The home side has the advantage in the forwards and may win the scrumming battle. The contest between the front rows will be fascinating.

The Hurricanes pack is fast and mobile and Ardie Savea is playing superbly. Crusaders captain Matt Todd is having a great season, but he will not have Jordan Taufua or Sam Whitelock in his pack.

It should be an absorbing match especailly as the top of the competition standings is at stake.




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