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Highlanders vs Crusaders
Super Rugby, 17 March, 2018
|Forsyth Barr Stadium|
|Fulltime - Highlanders 25, Crusaders 17|
|Referee: Nick Briant|
|Touch judges: Michael Fraser & James Doleman|
|TMO: Glenn Newman|
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The Crusaders’ Super Rugby title defence has struck an early season speed bump after going down 25-17 to the Highlanders in a rollicking South Island derby.
The Highlanders are coming off a win against the Stormers and will line-up against a motivated Crusaders outfit who despite their loss to the Hurricanes last week, will field a strong team. Join The Roar for live scores from the match, starting from 5:30pm AEDT.
The Highlanders were rusty last week as they were coming off a bye. But boasting arguably the best backline in the business with the premier scrum-half in the world in Aaron Smith, they will be much stronger this week.
The Highlanders are top of the NZ conference after being undefeated this season and they would be hoping to get a crucial win against their neighbours.
The Highlanders love to play at a high tempo and Smith is their heartbeat. If Smith is at his best expect Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith and Lima Sopoaga to dominate the game.
The Crusaders will be without their mid-field supremo Ryan Crotty. The All-Black centre who is the glue that holds the backline together was ruled out due to a concussion which he suffered last week.
They do however get their captain Sam Whitelock back after being taken from the field early along with Crotty last Saturday, Crusaders were dismantled by the electrifying backline of the Hurricanes and this week does not get any easier.
If they are to come home with a win then they need grind down the Highlanders and counter the Highlanders blueprint of fast-paced rugby.
A lot will fall on the shoulders of Mitchell Hunt who came off second best against Beauden Barrett last week.
He comes up against another All-Black in Lima Sopoaga and whoever controls the game better will go a long way in ensuring their team wins.
The loss of key players such as Mo’unga and Crotty will make it extremely difficult against this classy Highlanders unit.
Highlanders by 5.
Join The Roar for live scores from the match, starting from 5:30pm AEDT.