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The Crusaders’ winning streak has come to an end at the hands of the Waratahs at the SCG, the hosts earning a 20-12 win.
The Waratahs raced out of the blocks, scoring two tries to lead 12-nil. The Crusaders fought back and went into the break down 15-7.
The Waratahs though held firm and scored through Israel Folau in the second half to put just enough daylight between the two teams to secure victory.
The Waratahs show they have what it takes to beat anyone. Can they go on with this though? Time will tell.
Can the NSW Waratahs play to their potential or will the Canterbury Crusaders reaffirm their status as overwhelming favourites for the Super Rugby title when the two teams clash at the SCG? Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 7:45pm AEDT.
The Waratahs continue to underperform despite posting a few wins on the board thus far this season. A derby win over the Reds was marred by another below-par performance in a defeat to the Brumbies last week.
In contrast, the Crusaders continue to be unbackable favourites in all their matches, home or away. The professionalism of this outfit doesn’t appear to be fading anytime soon and it will take the complete Waratahs performance to end the Crusaders winning streak.
Throw in the fact that the Crusaders will dedicate any victory from here on out to the Christchurch victims and it is clear to see why it will take a special effort to stop the two-time reigning champions.
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has reacted to last weekend’s poor performance by introducing Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps and former sevens star Cam Clark to his starting line-up to play the Crusaders.
Phipps and Clark replace Jake Gordon and Curtis Rona respectively while Karmichael Hunt has to make do with a spot on the bench after missing the loss to the Brumbies through injury.
It will be Phipps’ first start of the season, having missed the opening rounds because of a calf injury sustained in Wallabies camp.
Hooker Andrew Tuala comes onto the bench in place of Test veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau, whose loan stint ended after just two weeks after being recalled to English Premiership club Leicester.
Backrower Michael Wells — last season’s NSW forward of the year — also gets a spot on the bench after returning from World Series sevens duty.
Flanker Will Miller remains on the injury list.
It will be the Crusaders’ first game since the Christchurch mosque massacre that killed 50 people.
The Crusaders have made two changes to their starting team with Quinten Strange in for Scott Barrett and Brett Cameron in for Richie Mo’unga.
The Crusaders consistency, professionalism and squad depth should have NSW covered here. The Waratahs at their best can certainly challenge anyone, but they remain far too volatile to back them in for a win.
Crusaders by 10
Time: 7:45pm AEST
Betting: Crusaders $1.24, Waratahs $4.50
Israel Folau, Cam Clark, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper (c), Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons, Jed Holloway, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Harry Johnson-Holmes
Reserves: Andrew Tuala, Rory O’Connor, Chris Talakai, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Wells, Jake Gordon, Mack Mason, Karmichael Hunt
David Havili, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Brett Cameron, Bryn Hall, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (c), Quinten Strange, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, George Bower
Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Harry Allan, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Tom Sanders, Ere Enari, Mitchell Hunt, Will Jordan