The Crusaders play the Hurricanes on Saturday in Auckland at the Orangetheory Stadium, 09:05 SA time. The Crusaders could almost certainly wrap up the competition with a bonus-point win, but the Hurricanes could come within one point of the leaders if they win. The Hurricanes won 29-27 against the Blues while the Crusaders had a bye last weekend. The Hurricanes lost the last game between the two foes (25-39) in round two of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
The Crusaders have been their usual best in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. They remain the only unbeaten side in the competition, having won all four of their games. Richie Mo’unga and Will Jordan have been outstanding for the Crusaders and so has skipper Codie Taylor. He’s led by example in his new role, having replaced regular captain Scott Barrett.
The Hurricanes had a slow start to the season but find themselves on a three-game winning streak. They’ve really come into form over the last few weeks and they’ll be riding high after last week’s clutch win over the Blues.
July 16, 2016 was the last time the Hurricanes beat the Crusaders in Christchurch. It was also the last time the Crusaders were beaten at home. They are undefeated in 36 matches and since 2016 have gone onto win three straight titles.
The Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has made two injury-enforced changes to their starting XV. Vice-Captain David Havili has been ruled out for the season after fracturing the base of his right thumb against the Blues, meaning the competition's leading try-scorer, Will Jordan, will start at fullback.
Jack Goodhue joins Whetukamokamo Douglas as Vice-Captain in Havili's absence and is set to partner with Fetuli Paea in the midfield this week after centre Braydon Ennor was ruled out with a toe injury. Brett Cameron and Leicester Fainga'anuku have both joined the playing 23 this week and will provide cover on the bench.
Crusaders: 1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor (C), 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 4. Samuel Whitelock, 5. Mitchell Dunshea, 6. Tom Sanders, 7. Tom Christie, 8. Whetukamokamo Douglas (VC), 9. Bryn Hall, 10. Richie Mo'unga, 11. George Bridge, 12. Jack Goodhue (VC), 13. Fetuli Paea, 14. Sevu Reece, 15. Will Jordan. Replacements: 16. Andrew Makalio, 17. George Bower, 18. Oliver Jager, 19. Quinten Strange, 20. Sione Havili, 21. Mitchell Drummond, 22. Brett Cameron, 23. Leicester Fainga'anuku.
The Hurricanes has made two changes to their starting XV. Co-captain Dane Coles will not travel with the squad due to a minor back complaint. It means Asafo Aumua takes over the number two jersey, with Ricky Riccitelli on the bench. The rest of the starting XV remains largely unchanged, with the only exception being Wes Goosen who gets the nod ahead of Kobus Van Wyk.
On the bench, Chase Tiatia, Tevita Mafileo and Vince Aso come into the fold – with the rest left status quo.
Ben Lam will play his 50th and final game for the Hurricanes when they take on the Crusaders in Christchurch this Saturday. Lam’s been with the Hurricanes since 2017, and in that time, he’s scored 32 tries (160 points) for the Hurricanes.
The Wellington-based Super Rugby team are now on a three-game winning streak, after dramatically beating the Blues 29 – 17 at Sky Stadium last Weekend.
The Hurricanes: 1. Fraser Armstrong, 2. Asafo Aumua, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 4. James Blackwell, 5. Scott Scrafton, 6. Reed Prinsep, 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi, 8. Ardie Savea, 9. TJ Perenara [C], 10. Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11. Ben Lam, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Peter Umaga-Jensen, 14. Wes Goosen, 15. Jordie Barrett. Replacements: 16. Ricky Riccitelli, 17. Tevita Mafileo, 18. Alex Fidow, 19. Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20. Vaea Fifita, 21. Jamie Booth, 22. Vince Aso, 23. Chase Tiatia.
The Crusaders have won their last six Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Hurricanes – more than they had won in their 15 completed encounters prior (W5, D1, L9).
The Crusaders have won 15 of their last 19 home games against the Hurricanes in Super Rugby (L4), including their last five such encounters on the bounce.
The Hurricanes have won eight of their last 10 Super Rugby games away from home in the regular season; although, they have not managed to clinch a losing bonus point from either of their two defeats in that span.
The Hurricanes have made nine break assists by offload in Super Rugby Aotearoa, more than twice as many as any other team in the competition. o Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders) has scored five tries in his last five Super Rugby games against the Hurricanes, contributing to a personal tally of 82 points across that period (15 conversions, 9 penalty goals).