The Crusaders get their first home game of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa on against a Chiefs side who are hurting. Having not won a game so far in this competition, they are desperate to get on the board. The Crusaders, however, looked their dangerous best at times against the Hurricanes last week.
But will be wanting to sort out their discipline at the breakdown, having had a few issues adjusting to the way it’s being officiated. We’re hoping the rain can stay away for these two sides to showcase their brilliant and exhilarating brands of rugby.
The Chiefs know they need to be much better and they find themselves almost in the must-win territory, having lost their two opening games of the 10-week competition. They haven’t been trounced in either match, but they are struggling to make the most of key opportunities and errors have been slipping into their game.
The Crusaders coming off a convincing win in round two against the Hurricanes (39-25), returns to Orangetheory Stadium this weekend against the Chiefs on Sunday 28 June 2020 @ 05:35 SA Time. Head Coach Scott Robertson has named an unchanged team to take on the Chiefs with Codie Taylor once again Captain.
"We know the nature of the competition, it is a sprint, it's short, sharp," Robertson said. "It's really important to get off to a good start and that's what we've done with the team that played well last week and [we've] rewarded them."
Crusaders: 15. Will Jordan, 14. Sevu Reece, 13. Braydon Ennor, 12. Jack Goodhue, 11. George Bridge, 10. Richie Mo'unga, 9. Bryn Hall, 8. Whetukamokamo Douglas (VC), 7. Billy Harmon, 6. Cullen Grace, 5. Mitchell Dunshea, 4. Samuel Whitelock, 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 2. Codie Taylor (C), 1. Joe Moody. Replacements: 16. Brodie McAlister, 17. George Bower, 18. Oliver Jager, 19. Luke Romano, 20. Ethan Blackadder, 21. Mitchell Drummond, 22. David Havili (VC), 23. Leicester Faingaanuku.
Several changes were made to the Chiefs forward pack with the welcomed return of Chiefs Captain Sam Cane and lock Mitchell Brown. Taranaki hooker Bradley Slater is given the nod to start, with Samisoni Taukei’aho shifting to the bench as cover. Brown returns from his neck injury to start, combining with Naitoa Ah Kuoi in jerseys number four and five respectively. Turnover master Lachlan Boshier shifts back to the blindside, with Cane returning on the openside in the final change to the Gallagher Chiefs forward pack.
In the only change to the backline utility back Solomon Alaimalo will start on the right-wing in jersey number fourteen. On the bench, Mitchell Karpik returns as loosie while Tumua Manu also returns in jersey number twenty-three.
Gatland said “We were disappointed with our performance against the Blues on Saturday and we know we are better than that. We are under no illusion that this weekend will be another challenging game, the Crusaders are a sharp team and can quickly punish teams for their mistakes. We need to be alert when we are defending and sharp on the attack to allow us to capitalise on any opportunities presented to us.”
“It is great to have the likes of Sam Cane, Mitchell Brown and Mitchell Karpik returning from injury. We know their experience and skill set will be invaluable."
Gallagher Chiefs: 15. Damian McKenzie, 14. Solomon Alaimalo, 13. Quinn Tupaea, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 11. Sean Wainui, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Brad Weber, 8. Pita Gus Sowakula, 7. Sam Cane, 6. Lachlan Boshier, 5. Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4. Mitchell Brown, 3. Nepo Laulala, 2. Bradley Slater, 1. Aidan Ross. Replacements: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17. Reuben O’Neill, 18. Ross Geldenhuys, 19. Adam Thomson, 20. Mitchell Karpik, 21. Lisati Milo-Harris, 22. Kaleb Trask, 23. Tumua Manu.