||We head straight to our next game which sees the Waratahs host the struggling Stormers!|
||What an end to a brilliant South Island Derby!|
||The Crusaders are going full out to regain possession with the play taking place close to the Highlanders 22. The hooter sounds and Osborne boots it into touch for a famous victory!|
||The throw in is too strong and the Highlanders come away with possession. They keep it among the forwards to run the clock down|
||The Crusaders are looking to run the ball out of their 22 and a mistake from the Highlanders hands the Crusaders a penalty. The ball is pumped up field and finds touch on the Highlanders 10 metre line|
||Slade makes no mistake with the three points to reduce the deficit to 5 points and the crowd is now in full cheer behind the home side|
||It's all a bit lateral at the moment as Slade attempts to straighten the line. PENALTY! The Highlanders hand Slade a chance to kick at goal from about 25 metres|
||The Crusaders are on a late charge as they look to steal it at the death. Read takes the play inside the Highlanders 22 but the visitors are holding their own in defence|
||The Crusaders steal the line-out ball and throws it to the outside. Dagg fails to hold onto a pass to hand the Highlanders the scrum feed on the halfway line|
||An early shove from the Crusaders hands the Highlanders a short-arm penalty. Banks puts up a high ball and Dagg claims the mark. He then kicks the ball into touch just short of the Highlanders 10 metre line|
||After a kicking battle and a few missed passes, the Crusaders are in possession inside the Highlanders territory but just as they build up some momentum, a forward pass stops them in their tracks|
||Read's attempt for a sneaky pick and go from the back of the scrum goes horribly wrong as he knocks the ball on to hand possession back to the Highlanders|
||Dixon attempts to claim the ball for the Highlanders but it slips out of his hands and play will resume with a Crusaders scrum feed just outside the Highlanders 22|
||Crusaders have managed to teal the line-out and are in possession on the halfway line.|
||Crusaders enjoying a brief spell of possession now inside Highlanders territory. They have made their way to the 22 but go off their feet at the breakdown to hand the Highlanders a PENALTY|
||The throw in is poor and the Highlanders regain possession. Ben Smith makes a run from inside his try line and takes the play up to the 22. The ball is eventually kicked into touch on the 10 metre line for a Crusaders line-out|
||Penalty! The Highlanders front row collapses under the pressure. Slade pops the ball into touch for a line-out 5 metres from the try line|
||Crusaders are awarded a short-arm penalty and have opted for another scrum|
||Turnover! Ben Smith regains possession for the visitors on their 5 metre line. They run the ball out and manage to take the play up to their 22. The Crusaders seemed to have retrieved the ball but they knock the ball on in the process and the Highlanders will have the feed|
||It is now the Crusaders turn to have the momentum as they launch an attack which takes them to the Highlanders 22|
||He splits the uprights to hand the Crusaders their first points of the second half|
||The clearance kicks goes as far as the halfway line and the Crusaders are back on the attack. PENALTY! The Highlanders fail to join the ruck correctly and Slade will have a shot at goal from about 35 metres|
||It's a clean take and finds Nadolo at first receiver. The ball is recycled through the phases as they get to the Highlanders 22. They knock the ball on though and the Highlanders will have the scrum feed on their 22|
||It's all the Highlanders at the moment as they once again find themselves on the Crusaders 22. PENALTY! Hohneck enters the ruck from the side and the Crusaders are able to clear the danger. They will have a line-out just inside the Highlanders' 10 metre line|
||Sopoaga has found his radar again as he slots the conversion to extend the Highlanders' lead|
||The Highlanders opt for a line-out and set up a ruck. A.Smith switches the play to the blindside and finds Naholo who has acres of space on the right wing and he grabs his second try of the match!|
||Naholo gets the pass after a scrappy line-out and gets the visitors within 5 metres from the line. The ball is recycled to the left and finds Fekitoa. He has a go at the line with two players holding him back. He reaches for the line and places it on the line but it's a double movement and is denied the try. Play will resume with a Highlanders penalty for the Crusaders being offside in the build-up|
||The game has really opened up now with both sides going hammer and tongs! The to-and-fro nature of the play comes to an end with a Highlanders penalty on the halfway line as the Crusaders are caught in an offside position. The ball is kicked into touch close to the Crusaders' 22|
||Sopoaga's conversion is pulled left and the try goes unconverted|
||Nadolo is at first receiver and passes it to Fonotia who attempts a quick tap pass down the line but it's intercepted by Naholo who sprints his way for a 50 metre try!|
||After a few phases, Fekitoa attempts to wriggle his way through two tacklers but knocks the ball on and the Crusaders have the scrum feed on the halfway line|
||The play is now in Highlanders territory with the visitors in possession as they make their way closer to the halfway line. Smith's kick is charged down by Read but the Highlanders manage to scramble to retain possession. Fekitoa releases Ben Smith who takes the ball to the halfway line|
||Sopoaga gets the second half underway. Ellis claims the restart and puts it into touch on the Crusaders' 10 metre line. The line-out is claimed by the Highlanders who swings it left but the ball is knocked on and the Crusaders will have the feed just inside their 10 metre line|
||Sopoaga slots another kick to reduce the deficit to a solitary point as the HALFTIME hooter sounds|
||The Highlanders claim the ball close to their 22 with Naholo setting up the next phase. The pass finds Sopoaga, who runs through a huge gap and takes the Highlanders over the Crusaders' 10 metre line before finding Ben Smith who skips through a tackle and runs in unopposed for an easy try!|
||Read peals off the back and hands the pass to Ellis. He runs across the field but the Highlanders get a penalty for crossing in the midfield. Smith's attempt to find as many metres goes begging as all he could do is keep it in-field, which allows Nadolo to calmly touch the ball down in-goal for a 22 metre restart|
||A.Smith puts in a high ball to clear the danger. Nadolo rises to claim the catch under severe pressure from Naholo but the latter knocks the ball on to hand the Crusaders the scrum feed on the Highlanders 10 metre line|
||The ball is passed through the hands and they find themselves 8 metres from the try line. Once again, they knock the ball on to hand possession back to the Highlanders. Nadolo charges down a Sopoaga clearance kick via a superman dive! Line-out to the Highlanders on their 22|
||Play will resume with the Crusaders in an ideal attacking position through a line-out inside the Highlanders 22|
||A promising attack by the Crusaders goes amiss as Dagg fails to hold onto a pass. The Highlanders come away with a penalty as the Crusaders seal the ball off at the breakdown. Line-out to the visitors on their 10 metre line|
||The high ball continues to cause problems for both sides. This time it's Naholo's chance to show that he, too, can't hold onto the ball. Crusaders with a scrum in Highlanders territory|
||The high ball is causing all sorts of problems for the Crusaders. This time Nadolo misjudges one and knocks it back into the hands of the Highlanders. They swing the ball left and gets to the Crusaders 5 metre line but the Crusaders have managed to turn the ball over an will have a defensive scrum|
||After spending 10 minutes in the bin, Sopoaga returns to the field and slots his second penalty of the match|
||Ben Smith puts in a huge high ball and Dagg looks in two minds with Smith appraoching. He knocks the ball on and gets caught by a fellow player. PENALTY! Sopoaga will have a shot at goal|
||Slade lands his first conversion of the match to stretch the lead|
||Nadolo gets the ball at first receiver and takes the ball within a metre from the line. Taufua is there in support, who picks the ball from the ruck and dives over for an easy score|
||The Crusaders are in full attack mode and will have a scrum 6 metres from the Highlanders try line after being a awarded a penalty right in front of the posts|
||The Crusaders win the ball back and boots it up field. Osborne attempts to keep it in field but only manages to knock it into touch|
||The counter-attack is on but as the Crusaders approach the Highlanders 22, they once again knock the ball on and allows the Highlanders to clear the ball back up-field. It all ends with Dagg kicking the ball into touch just outside his 22 for a Highlanders throw-in|
||Good continuity being shown by the Crusaders as they inch their way up the field however they cough up possession and the Highlanders manage to clear it back into Crusaders territory|
||A solid scrum on the Crusaders' 10 metre line sees Read having a run down the blindside and has taken his side into Highlanders territory|
||And it is an absolute shocker! The only way to describe that kick is by calling it a snap hook (you golfers out there will know what that looks like)|
||The Highlanders are back on the attack and are close to the Crusaders' 22. PENALTY! Crusaders are caught in an offside position and A.Smith will have a shot at goal|
||Dagg makes no mistake with the extra points|
||Sopoaga is sent to the bin for a late shoulder charge on Slade in the build-up to that try|
||The Crusaders go on the attack straight away and throw the ball around with some confidence. It finds Slade who breaks through the heart of the Highlanders defence. His long pass finds Nadolo who gives a nifty and cheeky little offload in the tackle to Todd and he dots it down in the left corner|
||First blood to the Highlanders as Sopoaga splits the uprights for the first points of the match|
||The Crusaders have managed to turn the ball over and opt to clear the danger, However, the ball goes out on the full and the Highlanders have a line-out just inside the Crusaders 22. PENALTY! Whitelock goes off his feet at the breakdown and Sopoaga will have a shot at goal from about 25 metres|
||The Crusaders attempt to run the ball out from just in front of their 22 but a pass goes forward to hand the Highlanders the scrum feed on the Crusaders' 10 metre line|
||Aaron Smith gets a good kick off the ruck of the ruck to hand the Crusaders a line-out on the 10 metre line. The ball is caught and swung to the right but it's knocked on and the Highlanders make their way into Crusaders territory.|
||KICK-OFF! The Crusaders get the big South Island derby underway in Owen Franks' 100th Super Rugby match|
||It is a great evening in Christchurch - a little nippy - but clear skies overhead as the teams make their way onto the field for this BIG SOUTH ISLAND derby|
||We have to go all the way back to 2012 - in Dunedin - for the last time the Highlanders managed to beat the Crusaders. Since then, however, the Crusaders have won all six matches they have played against each other. The most recent being a 26-20 victory in Round Two of the current campaign|
||A solitary point separates these teams on the log! The Highlanders currently occupy fifth place on 20 points after six matches while the Crusaders are on 19 points, in sixth place, after having played seven matches|
||Welcome to the second Super Rugby match of Round Nine! It's the Crusaders at home in Christchurch against the Highlanders!|
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It may be a well-worn cliche, but it certainly rings true for a few of the teams in Round Nine.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It may be a well-worn cliche, but it certainly rings true for a few of the teams in Round Nine.
We have just one Friday game and that includes a very desperate - winless - Blues team hosting the Australian conference leaders, the Brumbies, at Eden Park in Auckland.
The media have not let up on Blues coach John Kirwan and according to some publications in Aotearoa he has already been fired. All that must be determined is his departure date.
However, Kirwan has stood his ground and remains adamant his tem is still in with a chance of reaching the play-offs, although he admitted this week the Blues were "running out of runway".
Saturday starts with the big New Zealand South Island derby, the sixth-placed Crusaders hosting the fifth-placed Highlanders in Christchurch.
One point separates them on the standings, but even if they were poles apart, there is always plenty of feeling in these derbies and emotions tend to boil over.
The first half of our preview for this week concludes with the encounter between the defending champion Waratahs and the Stormers, desperate to break their tour duck.
We look at the first half of the weekend's matches!
Friday, April 10
Blues v Brumbies
(Eden Park, Auckland - Kick-off: 19.35; 17.35 AEST; 07.35 GMT)
The winless Blues, according to coach Kirwan, can't buy a trick.
"It's about those small moments, we had our chances and didn't take them," Kirwan said this week, after their seventh straight loss.
The Brumbies are well aware that a team as desperate as the Blues will not be holding anything back - making them a tricky hurdle.
Prop Scott Sio made no secret of the Brumbies' apprehension ahead of the trip across the Tasman Sea.
Even though the Blues are winless and stone last, they will play their first real home match this season - after Eden Park was used for the cricket World Cup and they were forced to play their other 'home' matches in Albany.
"It's a massive test this week," Sio said.
"We've got a lot of respect for them and we know we have to front up.
The scrum and the set-piece will be another big part in winning and continuing on in this competition."
Sio said dominance is what they are trying to build their game on.
"Just like back in the 1980s and 1990s, whoever was dominant on the day generally won," he added.
2014: Brumbies won 26-9, Canberra
2013: Brumbies won 20-13, Auckland
2012: Blues won 30-16, Canberra
2010: Blues won 39-34,Auckland
2009: Brumbies won 37-15, Canberra
2008: Brumbies won 16-11, Auckland
Prediction: The last eight meetings between the Blues and Brumbies have followed a pattern of two victories followed by two defeats for the Auckland-based side. If this run were to continue, they would win this game. The Brumbies have won the last two meetings between the sides, but have never won three on the bounce against the Blues. The Blues are currently on a nine-match losing streak; their worst-ever run of form. The Blues have averaged more rucks lost per game than any other side this season (5.3). The Brumbies have forced a worse ruck success rate (91 percent) from their opponents than any other team. The Brumbies have managed more opening quarter tries (seven) than any other side this season, while the Blues have scored the joint-fewest (one). The Blues appear to lack the belief to pull off the numerous close defeats this season. The Brumbies, in contrast, look a well-coached and structured team. They should win by about 10 points.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Francis Saili.
Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Henry Speight, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Ita Vaea, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Lausii Taliauli, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Ben Skeen
Saturday, April 11
Crusaders v Highlanders
(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)
Were the Sharks really that bad, or were the Crusaders that good?
That has been the question asked since the seven-time champions put 50-odd points past the Sharks in Durban last week.
The Highlanders will provide the answer to that, as they are a team capable of testing the resolve of even the most powerful outfits.
While the Crusaders had to make the long trek across the Indian Ocean - a well documented fact that the east-to-west trip takes more out of teams - the Highlanders come off a bye.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said the side was looking forward to the derby.
'The guys are jumping around getting ready for a tough challenge against the Crusaders,'' Joseph told the Otago Daily Times.
''The Crusaders are coming off a 50-point win over the Sharks. They really smashed them, so we know we are going to be up against it.
"Obviously, their confidence should be high so that basically means we are going up there and are going to have to play very well.''
The Highlanders, who have already had their two byes, are one point and a position above the Crusaders.
Joseph said the next phase of the season was the coming four weeks when the side had two games away from home and two in Dunedin.
They travel to Christchurch, then return to Dunedin to play the Blues, nip over to Australia and play the Brumbies, before returning home to play the Sharks at home before heading overseas.'
2015: Crusaders won 26-20, Dunedin
2014: Crusaders won 34-8, Christchurch
2014: Crusaders won 32-30, Dunedin
2013: Crusaders won 40-12, Dunedin
2013: Crusaders won 24-8, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 51-18, Christchurch
2012: Highlanders won 27-24, Dunedin
Prediction: The Crusaders have won their last six against the Highlanders; another victory would equal their best run of seven wins on the bounce against the Dunedin-based side. The Highlanders have failed to reach double figures in their last two away games against the Crusaders. The Highlanders are playing away from home for just the second time this season. The Crusaders boast the best scrum success rate (95 percent) in the competition. The Highlanders' line-out success rate (91 percent) is the second-best this year behind the Brumbies (92 percent). Eleven of the Crusaders' 25 tries this year have been in the third quarter of matches, no other side has scored more than seven in the same period. Only the Waratahs (six) have conceded more five-pointers in the same timeframe than the Highlanders (five). You can never discount the Highlanders, but the smart money will be on the Crusaders to win - by less than 10 points.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 David Havili, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Richie McCaw, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Dan Carter, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Brendon Edmonds.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Jason Emery.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Waratahs v Stormers
(Allianz Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 19.40, 11.40 SAST; 10.40 GMT)
The defending champion Waratahs will get their first taste of South African opposition this season.
The Stormers, desperate to end the three-match losing streak that has seen them drop from first to ninth in the last month, are just one-point and one spot on the table behind the Waratahs.
Not even the absence of captain Duane Vermeulen - rested in accordance with a request from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer - can convince the Waratahs that the Stormers are a soft touch.
Waratahs defence coach Nathan Grey, said that the Stormers would still provide a serious challenge for the defending champions.
"They're a very physical side," Grey said.
"Yes, Vermeulen's not playing, but they're getting back Juan De Jongh, another starting player, their vice-captain who has been named as their captain [in replace of Vermeulen]," Grey said.
"You lose a bit somewhere you gain somewhere else. They played very well against the Hurricanes last week and were a little bit unlucky not to get a result there. But they provide a lot of firepower across the park and they've got good skills so we're very much aware of that."
Stormers assistant coach Robbie Fleck was equally complimentary of the opposition this week.
"The Waratahs are a quality outfit," Fleck said in a teleconference call from Sydney.
"They've proven it over the past few years, having taken on the best teams in Super Rugby and beating them.
"They're big, they ask a lot of questions of you defensively and their defence is accurate too.
"We need to be at our best against them, but we have taken confidence from the ‘Canes match and will use that on Saturday," he said.
2014: Waratahs won 22-11, Cape Town
2013: Waratahs won 21-15, Sydney
2012: Stormers won 19-13, Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 25-6, Cape Town (semifinal)
2010: Stormers won 27-6, Cape Town
2009: Waratahs won 12-6, Sydney
Prediction: The Waratahs have won 12 of their last 13 at home in Super Rugby; their average margin of victory in those 12 wins is
18.5 points. The Tahs have won the last two meetings between the sides, but have never won three games in a row against the Stormers. None of the last eight meetings between the sides have seen 40+ points on the board. The Waratahs have won fewer turnovers per game (5.2) than any other side this season, while opponents of the Stormers have averaged fewer turnovers won (5.4) than vs any other opponent. The Stormers have managed more scrum steals than any other side this season and have forced a lower success rate (74 percent) at the opposition feed than any other team. Only Damian de Allende (29) has beaten more defenders than Israel Folau (26) so far this season. This is probably the game of the weekend, so much at stake for two quality teams just outside the play-off zone. The Stormers are close to breaking that drought, but the Waratahs may just have the edge on them - and will win by less than 10 points.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (captain), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Mitchell Chapman, Pat McCutcheon, Stephen Hoiles, Brendan McKibbin, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Jono Lance, Peter Betham.
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, James Leckie (New Zealand)
TMO: Peter Marshall
Compiled by Jan de Koning
Statistical information provided by Opta Sports
The Highlanders fought back to claim a 25-20 victory over the Crusaders in their clash in Christchurch on Saturday.