RECAP: Crusaders v Rebels
READERS’ FORUM: Welcome to our coverage of the Super Rugby Round 17 between the Crusaders and Rebels in Christchurch.
The Rebels need to knock over the competition leaders and defending champions to cement a play-off spot.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels said there was no chance of targeting their Round 18 home game – against the Chiefs, which appears more winnable – as they try to finish in the top eight.
“We don’t have that luxury, to be taking things easy here,” Wessels said.
“We have to fight for every opportunity and this is an opportunity,” he added.
“There’s a couple of guys in this group who’ve had some success in Christchurch and the group is feeling good.
“The Crusaders are a hell of a good side, but they have been frustrated by their form.
“I think they’ve won two of their last five – but there’s no doubt we’re going to have to play really well.”
2018: Crusaders won 55-10, Melbourne
2017: Crusaders won 41-19, Melbourne
2016: Crusaders won 85-26, Christchurch
2015: Rebels won 20-10, Christchurch
2014: Crusaders won 25-19, Melbourne
Prediction: The Crusaders have won five of their last six Super Rugby matches against the Rebels, including their last three on the bounce across which they’ve scored an average of 60 points per game. The Rebels have led at half-time in three of their last four games against New Zealand opposition, going on to secure two wins in that span. The Crusaders have won 16 of their last 17 Super Rugby games against Australian opposition, with two of those last three wins coming after having trailed at half-time. The Rebels have stolen a total of 20 line-outs against the throw this Super Rugby campaign, the most of any team in the competition and seven more than the Crusaders. Crusaders’ duo Sevu Reece (27) and George Bridge (22) have made the most and joint third-most clean breaks respectively of all players this Super Rugby campaign.
RECAP: Crusaders v Rebels
Kick-off: 19.35 (local time); 17.35 Melbourne time; 07.35 GMT
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Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 George Bower, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Ngane Punivai.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Tom English, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Marika Koroibete.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), James Munro (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)