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The Crusaders and Brumbies will look to get their Trans-Tasman campaigns off to a winning start as two of the best teams in the competition go head to head in Christchurch. This is the game of the round so make sure you join The Roar for live scores and a blog starting from 5:05pm (AEST).
The Crusaders will be full of confidence after their impressive victory in last week’s Super Rugby Aotearoa final, while the Brumbies may well still be wondering how on earth they lost again in injury time to the Reds.
Both sides have made a number of changes from the starting lineups that ran out for their respective finals last weekend. For the home side, Scott Robertson has chosen to rest Mitch Drummond and Will Jordan for the week and has moved club captain Scott Barrett and winger Sevu Reece to the bench.
This will see Codie Taylor wear the skipper’s armband in his 100th game for the club with Mitch Dunshea joining Sam Whitelock in the second row and Bryn Hall getting the chance to start the match.
Whilst the Crusaders are missing some genuine talent, the Brumbies will know that they are in for one hell of a game. The challenge will be made harder thanks to some forced personnel swaps due to injury.
Nic White is out sadly and replaced by Ryan Lonergan whilst Nick Frost will get a chance to start at lock and Henry Stowers will get his run-on debut. Solomone Kata will also start and club hero Folau Fainga’a will return from injury to get his 50th Super Rugby cap.
The Brumbies are one of Australia’s best hopes in the Trans-Tasman competition and there will be lots of eyes as they take on the best the Kiwi comp has to offer. Especially interesting will be the battle between the fly-halves as young up-and-comer Noah Lolesio will see if he can impress compared to arguably the best player in the world right now in Richie Mo’unga.
Both sides don’t have their ideal first XVs taking the field but that’s no excuse. Whilst the Brumbies are a very good side, they are not going to be a match for the Crusaders at home.
Crusaders by 15
Kick-off: 5:05pm (AEST)
Venue: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Live stream: Stan Sport
Betting: Crusaders $1.09, Brumbies $7.30 (odds via PlayUp)
1. George Bower, 2. Codie Taylor (c), 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 4. Mitchell Dunshea, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. Ethan Blackadder, 7. Tom Sanders, 8. Cullen Grace, 9. Bryn Hall, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12. David Havili, 13. Braydon Ennor, 14. Manasa Mataele, 15. George Bridge
Bench: 16. Brodie McAlister, 17. Tamaiti Williams, 18. Oliver Jager, 19. Scott Barrett, 20. Brendon O’Connor, 21. Ereatara Enari, 22. Fergus Burke, 23. Sevu Reece
1. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Nick Frost, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Rory Scott, 8. Rob Valetini, 9. Ryan Lonergan, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Solomone Kata, 15. Tom Banks
Bench: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Tom Hooper, 20. Luke Reimer, 21. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22. Reesjan Pasitoa, 23. Mack Hansen