The Blues host the Crusaders in Round 14 of Super Rugby in Auckland on Saturday, another tough test for the home side who came up short against the Hurricanes last week.
Blues v Crusaders, Saturday 19th May, Auckland, KO 09:35 (South African time)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Cam Stone (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
Television match official: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
The Blues went down 36-15 at home to the Hurricanes last week, a game where they faded in the second half and they failed to stay within a handicap which had been set at around 10.5 points. Last week’s loss leaves them still looking for an NZ derby victory after a sequence of 15 defeats and 1 draw.
All 5 of the Blues home games in the current campaign have ended in defeat including earlier clashes with rival NZ sides, the Chiefs (27-21) in Round 3 and the Highlanders (34-16) in Round 10. The Sharks and Jaguares have also won in Auckland this season and the Blues have earned just 2 losing bonus points in front of their own supporters.
The Blues remain bottom of the New Zealand Conference with an overall record of 3 wins and 8 defeats and they are 14 points adrift of the fourth placed Chiefs who have played 1 game fewer.
After half an hour of last week’s home game against the Waratahs the Crusaders found themselves 29-0 down but they came back to edge it 31-29 to hold on to top spot in the overall standings with a record of 9 wins and 2 defeats.
This will be the fourth local derby of the season for the Saders with earlier results comprising of a 45-23 win over the Chiefs in Round 2 and defeats away to the Canes (29-19) in Round 4 and the Highlanders (25-17 in Round 5.
The Saders have won each of the last 6 head to heads with the Blues, 4 in Christchurch, 2 in Auckland.
At the end of Round 13 the Saders were 1 point clear of the Hurricanes (who are at home to the Reds on Friday) in the New Zealand Conference although they have played 1 game more.
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii/Murphy Taramai, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Subs: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Murphy Taramai/Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Dan Kirkpatrick, 23 Michael Collins.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tim Perry.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
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 )
Blues +11.5 points 9/10 Sunbet, Hollywood
Crusaders -10.5 points 9/10 WSB
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
The handicap is pretty similar to last week’s Blues v Canes clash where I backed the wrong horse in going with the plus. I’ll go with the minus this week even though Sam Whitelock is out for the Saders who might well need a bonus point to retain outright top spot.
Bet: 3 units Crusaders -10.5 points 9/10 WSB
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