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The Crusaders welcome the Hurricanes to Christchurch for what promises to be a thrilling match. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog starting from 2:35pm (AEDT) on Sunday.
The Crusaders will look to continue their winning start to the season against a Wellington side well aware that another loss would make things almost impossible if they want to win the competition.
The visitors are coming in to this match with a handful of changes to the team that lost to the Blues in Round 1. Most of these changes are in the forwards where there’s some shuffling in the second and back rows.
Isaia Walker-Leawere will get his first start of the season and the back row will be made up of Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea and Du’Plessis Kirifi. With Savea at number eight, fans should get to see the club hero with the ball in his hands more often than when he plays flanker and that can only be a good thing for the Canes.
In the backs the only change is Peter Umaga-Jensen, who will line up alongside Ngani Laumape. Both will be wanting to impress the All Blacks selectors and get back into the black jersey.
Meanwhile, for the Crusaders there are fewer changes from their winning Round 1 side. Vice-captain David Havili is back in the starting line-up and Mitchell Drummond will get his 95th club cap when he runs out.
There was debate following the past couple of games about whether the Crusaders had a discipline problem and the coaches have said that they’ve been working harder in training to make sure that the team is playing within the laws.
With the range of Jordie Barrett’s boot, they will need to make sure they aren’t giving away penalties anywhere within 40 metres of their posts.
There are plenty of thrilling players on display in this match but one of the most exciting match-ups will see two of the best wingers in world rugby go head to head.
Sevu Reece has lit up Super Rugby but has not yet been able to lock down a consistent starting jersey for the All Blacks. Julian Savea meanwhile has been there, done that and scored the try – 46 of them, in fact, in 54 Test appearances.
Clashes between these two are usually pretty exciting and hopefully we get to see plenty of free-flowing rugby and not have both sides cancel each other out.
When it comes down to it, the Crusaders’ pack will get on top of the Canes and that dominance up front will be used well by Richie Mo’unga to see his team home.
Crusaders by seven.
Kick-off: 2:35pm (AEDT)
Venue: Orangetheory Stadium
Live stream: Stan Sport
Betting: Crusaders $1.16, Hurricanes $5.20 (odds via PlayUp)
15. David Havili, 14. Sevu Reece, 13. Jack Goodhue, 12. Dallas McLeod, 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Mitchell Drummond, 8. Cullen Grace, 7. Tom Christie, 6. Ethan Blackadder, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Scott Barrett (c), 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 2. Codie Taylor, 1. Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16. Brodie McAlister, 17. George Bower, 18. Fletcher Newell, 19. Quinten Strange, 20. Sione Havili Talitui, 21. Bryn Hall, 22. Fergus Burke, 23. Will Jordan.
15. Jordie Barrett, 14. Wes Goosen, 13. Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12. Ngani Laumape, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9. Jonathan Taumateine, 8. Ardie Savea (c), 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6. Reed Prinsep, 5. Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4. James Blackwell, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 2. Asafo Aumua, 1. Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16. Ricky Riccitelli, 17. Xavier Numia, 18. Tevita Mafileo, 19. Liam Mitchell, 20. Devan Flanders, 21. Luke Campbell, 22. Billy Proctor, 23. Salesi Rayasi.