The Crusaders head into Saturday’s Round 19 clash with the Blues with top spot in the overall Super Rugby standings already secured.
Crusaders v Blues, Saturday 14th July, Christchurch, KO 09:35 (South African time)
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown, Mike Fraser
TMO: Shane McDermott
After sitting out Round 17 the Crusaders returned to action at home to the Highlanders last week and reeled off an eleventh straight win. The 45-22 scoreline was plenty to justify early market confidence among punters in terms of the handicap and more importantly for the Saders it gave them 8 points worth of daylight over the Hurricanes, their nearest challengers for top spot.
The Saders have won 13 and lost 2 of their matches so far and those 2 defeats came away from home in NZ derby matches, 29-19 at the Hurricanes in Round 4 and 25-17 in the first meeting with the Highlanders in Dunedin a week later.
Since then the Saders have been a model of consistency and the winning streak includes a 32-24 victory over their opponents here in Auckland in Round 14.
The Blues were beaten 42-24 by the Hurricanes in Wellington last week and they are still searching for a first NZ derby victory of the season having lost the first 7 against local rivals in the current campaign. They have won 3 away fixtures, at the Lions, Waratahs and Sunwolves but with an overall record of 4 wins and 11 defeats they will finish bottom of the NZ Conference regardless of the outcome of this game.
You have to go back to Round 1 of the 2016 season for their last NZ derby victory which came at home to the Highlanders and the Blues haven’t beaten a NZ franchise away from home since Round 2 of 2013 when they beat the Canes in Wellington.
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makali, 1 Tim Perry.
Subs: 16 Sam Anderson-Heather, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Donald Brighouse, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ben Nee-Nee, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Tamati Tua.
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2018 Auckland Blues 24–32 Crusaders (Tries 4-4 )
2017 Christchurch Crusaders 33-24 Blues (Tries 5-3)
2016 Auckland Blues 21–26 Crusaders (Tries 2-2 )
2016 Christchurch Crusaders 28-13 Blues (Tries 3-1)
2015 Auckland Blues 11–34 Crusaders (Tries 1-4 )
2015 Christchurch Crusaders 29–15 Blues (Tries 4-2)
2014 Christchurch Crusaders 21–13 Blues (Tries 2-1)
2014 Auckland Blues 35–24 Crusaders (Tries 4-3 )
2013 Christchurch Crusaders 23–3 Blues (Tries 2-0)
2013 Auckland Blues 34–15 Crusaders (Tries 5-0 )
Crusaders -15.5 points
Blues +15.5 points
Note, odds quoted are an average of what was available at the time of last update but are subject to change.
Whether the Crusaders will let the usual intensity drop ahead of the play offs will no doubt be key to the outcome and this match gets only a passing interest from my side.
All the books I’ve seen have the handicap listed in the mid teens and I haven’t witnessed any movement throughout the week. I’ll take the view the cap will prove to be accurate and go with the Saders to win by 11-20 points.
Bet: 1.5 units Crusaders win by 11-20 points inc 2.32/1 BetOlimp
Remember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum