Super Rugby quarter final action on Saturday starts in Christchurch where the Crusaders take on the Highlanders.
Crusaders v Highlanders, Saturday 22nd July, Christchurch, KO 09:35 (South African time)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Weather Forecast – Christchurch
After winning 14 from 14 the Crusaders tasted defeat for the first time this season when they were beaten by the Hurricanes in Wellington last weekend. That one defeat could prove to be highly significant as it cost the Saders top spot overall and potentially home advantage in the final, should they get that far. Right now it’s all about focusing on the Highlanders and it’s worth noting that 2 earlier head to heads this season were settled by margins of just 3 points whilst all 6 of the NZ derby matches involving the Saders this season have been settled by margins of no more than 9 points.
In 2016 the Crusaders exited the competition at the quarter final stage, losing 42-25 to the Lions in Johannesburg.
The Highlanders finished fourth best in New Zealand, all of 12 points behind the Crusaders. They recovered from losing 3 of their first 4 to win 10 of the next 11 but they only managed to finish as winners in 2 of the 6 NZ derby matches and those 2 victories were home and away to the Blues. In the 2016 play offs the Highlanders won 15-9 away to the Brumbies in the quarter finals before losing 42-30 to the Lions in a Johannesburg semi final.
Crusaders: David Havili, Israel Dagg, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge
Highlanders: Ben Smith (co-captain), Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Rob Thompson, Richard Buckman, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whiteock, James Lentjes, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Reserves: Ash Dixon , Aki Seiuli, Siosuia Halanukonuka, Alex Ainley, Gareth Evans, Elliot Dixon, Kayne Hammington, Marty Banks
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2017 Christchurch Crusaders 25-22 Highlanders (Tries 3-3)
2017 Dunedin Highlanders 27-30 Crusaders (Tries 3-4)
2016 Dunedin Highlanders 34-26 Crusaders (Tries 5-2)
2015 Christchurch Crusaders 20-25 Highlanders (Tries 2-3)
2015 Dunedin Highlanders 20-26 Crusaders (Tries 2-2)
2014 Christchurch Crusaders 34-8 Highlanders (Tries 4-1)
2014 Dunedin Highlanders 30-32 Crusaders (Tries 4-4)
2013 Dunedin Highlanders 12-40 Crusaders (Tries 2-4)
2013 Christchurch Crusaders 24-8 Highlanders (Tries 2-1)
Crusaders -6.5 points 9/10 widely available
Highlanders +7.5 points 9/10 Sunbet
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
I’ve had a listen to differing opinions between our podcast and Oracles video preview of this match, I was battling to form an opinion before and I’m no closer now when it comes to the handicap. What I am a fan of in NZ derby matches is the 1-12 win margin market and both head to heads this season have been settled by 3 points in the Crusaders favour.
I’m going to side with that trend continuing here, Saders 1-12 is the pick.
Bet: 2 units Crusaders win, 1-12 points inc at 13/8 Sportingbet
Remember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum