The Highlanders host the Crusaders in Round 5 of Super Rugby in Dunedin on Saturday and the match result betting market suggests this one is very much in the balance.
Highlanders v Crusaders, Saturday 17th March, Dunedin, KO 08:35 (South African time)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Weather Forecast – N/A indoor stadium
A late try saw the Highlanders cover the handicap in last week’s 33-15 home win over the Stormers and they now have 2 wins from 2 outings and 9 log points against their name. They are just 1 point behind the Hurricanes and the Crusaders in the New Zealand Conference with a game in hand and with the Canes on a bye this week, victory here would take them to the top of the log.
The Highlanders opening match of the tournament produced a 41-34 home win over the Blues in a cracking game in Round 2. They were 24-17 down at the break in that game before hitting back in the second half, taking control of the scoreboard when the Blues had a man sin binned on 54 minutes. The Highlanders were 6.5 point favourites on the handicap for that match and the winning start was in contrast to 2017 when they lost 3 of their first 4 matches, all of which were NZ derby’s.
The Crusaders were beaten 29-19 away to the Hurricanes last weekend and they now have a record of 2 wins and 1 defeat. As far as the bookmakers were concerned it was not far off a choice game in Wellington but the Canes raced into a 21 point lead and despite scoring 3 tries there was no way back for the Saders. That was their first away fixture of the season after 2 home wins, 45-23 over the Chiefs in a derby in Round 2 and 45-28 over the Stormers a week later. Last season the Crusaders also lost to the Canes in Wellington but that was their only defeat in 2017 and they beat the Highlanders in each of the 3 meetings, twice in the regular season and again in the play offs.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Luke Romano, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Chris King, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Billy Harmon, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Manasa Mataele
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2017 Christchurch Crusaders 17-0 Highlanders (Tries 2-0)
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)
Highlanders 21/20 BetOlimp
Draw 25/1 WSB, Hollywood
Crusaders evens BetXchange
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
This smacks of a 1-12 margin game to me but when it comes to naming the winner it’s no easy call. Of 4 New Zealand derby matches this season home teams have won 3 and whilst that may not be the strongest of justifications for a selection, I will side with the Highlanders.
Bet. 2 units Highlanders win by 1-12 points, 22/10 Sportingbet
Remember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum