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Crusaders vs Chiefs: Super Rugby live scores, blog

24th February, 2018
When: 5:35pm AEDT
Where: AMI Stadium
TV: Fox Sports
Betting: Crusaders $1.40, Chiefs $3

Crusaders (15-1)
David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Peter Samu, Sam Whitelock (captain), Luke Romano, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett.

Reserves: Ben Funnell, Chris King, Oliver Jager, Scott Barrett, Billy Harmon, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele.

Chiefs (15-1)
Charlie Ngatai (cc), Shaun Stevenson, Anton Lienert-Brown, Johnny Fa'auli, Solomon Alaimalo, Damian McKenzie, Brad Weber, Taleni Seu, Sam Cane (cc), Mitchell Brown, Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Aidan Ross.

Reserves: Liam Polwart, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avo, Liam Messam, Lachlan Boshier, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Marty McKenzie, Sean Wainui.
The Crusaders celebrate their 2017 Super Rugby final win. (Photo by Gallo Images)
Roar Guru
24th February, 2018
38
1782 Reads

Match result:

The Crusaders started their title defense in strong fashion, defeating the Chiefs by 22 points on Saturday.

Final score
Crusaders 45
Chiefs 23

Match preview:

The Crusaders defense of their Super Rugby title starts in Christchurch with a tough tussle against the Chiefs. Will the Crusaders continue their winning habits or will the Chiefs win in the opening round at AMI Stadium as they did in the corresponding fixture two years ago? Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 5:35pm (AEDT).

The Crusaders pre-season form was far from convincing. Eliminated in the semi-finals at the Brisbane 10s the reigning champions were then beaten 42-26 by the Highlanders in Waimumu last week.

Is this cause for panic? Not likely in February. There are just two changes from the side that lost their final pre-season match.

Luke Romano joins the starting line-up, and will appear in his 100th match for the Crusaders, while Scott Barrett will provide locking cover on the bench.

Led by captain Sam Whitelock and vice-captains Matt Todd and Ryan Crotty, the team will include nine All Blacks with 281 Test caps among them.

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Jack Goodhue, George Bridge and David Havili all had breakout seasons last year and will look to hit the ground running in 2018.

Richie Mo’unga has a chance to stake a claim as backup All Blacks first-five to Beauden Barrett. Mo’unga had an outstanding 2017 and will be keen to outshine Damian McKenzie who will be vying for the same spot.

Bryn Hall and Mitchell Drummond are two servicable halfbacks and will share regular time this season.

Historically the Chiefs field an abrasive and accomplished pack, and up front five All Blacks have been named to start. Prop Kane Hames isn’t one of them though falling ill early in the week.

However his replacement Aidan Ross is very promising and stood up stoically to the might of the British and Irish Lions for the Barbarians last year.

Brad Weber and Damian McKenzie are a fast, young and potentially thrilling 9/10 combination. Weber is back after missing most of 2017 injured while McKenzie moves into his high school position.

With good ball this pair could cause chaos. McKenzie moving into first-five is one of the seasons most exciting prospects.

Charlie Ngatai at fullback provides a strong kicking option of both feet which could be vital if it becomes a territory scrap

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There are three players on the bench awaiting a first Chiefs cap, in Taranaki trio Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Sean Wainui and Angus Ta’avo, with the latter two not part of the original squad, before then having taken part pre-season.

It will be a torrid and exciting affair, but the Crusaders didn’t lose at home last season and are favourites to edge this contest.

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