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In a battle between first-round winners, it was the Crusaders who remained unbeaten and solidify their place as title favourites yet again courtesy of a commanding performance against the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders led 24-nil at the break and effectively won the game by halftime.
The Hurricanes responded with a few late tries in the second half, but by then, it was too little too late.
The Crusaders are head and shoulders the best team in the competition. Numbers don’t lie. Who will stop them?
Another well contested affair awaits between two Super Rugby powerhouses as the Crusaders play the Hurricanes. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 5:35pm AEDT.
Both teams rode their luck last week, with the Crusaders and Hurricanes each relying on missed penalty attempts from the Blues and Waratahs respectively to seal victory in the opening round.
With that said, the Crusaders and Hurricanes were playing away from home and still managed to get the job done against dangerous opposition, further underlining the winning mentality that is prevalent within the best New Zealand Super Rugby sides.
Taking this into account, expect another enterprising and tight affair between two title aspirants who are no strangers to winning the title in recent seasons.
In team news, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has made just one change to his side for the blockbuster derby against the Hurricanes, with All Blacks centre Jack Goodhue overcoming a groin strain to take his place in the side.
Goodhue replaces Braydon Ennor, who was impressive in last week’s win over the Blues, but drops to the bench.
The Crusaders remain without rested senior All Blacks forward Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock and Codie Taylor but will still field a side packed with experience and attacking menace.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach John Plumtree has taken the bold step of naming a fresh-faced starting side for Super Rugby’s most daunting assignment.
Beauden Barrett is again on ice while Ardie Savea, outstanding against the Waratahs, has also been left out of the squad after tweaking his knee at Brookvale Oval.
Hurricanes captain Dane Coles will return to the starting XV while TJ Perenara and Ngani Laumape have been dropped to the bench.
Kiwi Super Rugby teams are required to rest All Blacks stars frequently in a Rugby World Cup year. This provides ample opportunity for lesser known stars to prove that they are perhaps worthy of wearing the All Black jersey in Japan later this year.
The Crusaders and Hurricanes were fortunate to escape with victories last week. Despite both teams missing some key players, the Crusaders still possess a formidable squad and recent championship winning experience to beat the Hurricanes in a tight contest.
Crusaders by 5
David Havili, Manasa Mataele, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Matt Todd (c), Jordan Taufua, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Harry Allan, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor
Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, Finlay Christie, Gareth Evans, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Jeff To’omaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Chris Eves
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Ben May, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Henwood, TJ Perenara, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ngani Laumape
Time: 5:30pm AEDT
Venue: Rugby League Park
Betting: Crusaders $1.37, Hurricanes $3.80