Super Rugby Preview – Blues vs CrusadersAuthor: Nick | Filed under: Match Previews, Super Rugby
Match Date: Friday 1st March
After a fine away win over the Hurricanes, the Blues return home to face the tournament favourites, the Crusaders. The last time these 2 teams met it was carnage in Canterbury with the home side smashing the visitors black and blue in a 59-12 victory. This time round it should be a fair fight; well, fairer than the bout between Quade Cooper and that hapless insurance salesman a few weeks back.
After the Bull’s singing & sports-bra antics; the Crusaders have joined in with a bizarre Harlem Shake video containing an albino & a very strange performance from Israel Dagg. Enjoy.
The Blues will be delighted with their start to the season considering the catastrophe that was their 2012 campaign. The 2 knights of the realm Sir John Kirwin (coach) and Sir Graham Henry (technical advisor) have already made a positive impact in Auckland. The free flowing nature of the game surprisingly worked against the Canes as the Blues made the most of their opportunities in a match much closer than the scoreboard suggests. Captain Rene Ranger was inspirational for the Blues in the centre position more than holding his own against Conrad Smith. Ranger will have to do more of the same this Friday if they want to topple the Crusaders. Piri Weepu will also have to kick a lot better; 5/9 was a poor effort.
Chris Noakes looks to be the answer for the Blues at flyhalf after Gareth Anscombe’s departure to the Chiefs. The former Highlander ran 8 times for an impressive 80m gain that included a couple of linebreaks. The flyhalf can kick for posts as well and it will be interesting to see if he takes over from Weepu if the halfback continues to kick below 60%.
Fantasy bargain hunters take note of Frank Halai who is priced at just 6 million. The Blues winger scored 2 tries on debut and matched Julian Savea for pace in a foot race. The Kiwi Sevens player is 6’5″ and 105kg; on top of all that speed he will be a hard man to stop if he gets a whiff of the try-line. It would take a brave man to bring any Blues players in for the Crusaders game but he’ll be near the top of the recruitment list if he can build on Saturday’s performance.
If you missed the Blues win over the Hurricanes, here are the highlights courtesy of some random dude on YouTube
The Crusaders are the only team not to have played Super Rugby this season but we still know a lot about them. Successful fantasy managers have been using the Saders players as bread and butter for years, relying on regular wins at the very least. Israel Dagg scored 5 tries and 5 assists last season; Robbie Fruean 6 tries in Super Rugby last season and 6 more in the ITM Cup and Andrew Ellis 4 tries and 9 assists. All fantasy gold.
Daniel Carter has an attendance record worse than Ferris Bueller but equally as much game. The Kiwi superstar will be opposite Chris Noakes who will want to prove himself against the best, and that last week’s dominant performance over a rusty Beauden Barrett was no fluke. Kieran Read was on terrific form last season, scoring 3 tries and 2 assists, and as captain his fantasy stakes should be high this season.
The overall History favours the Crusaders who’ve won 12 out of the total 21 games between these 2 sides. However the Blues have beaten the Crusaders 6 times out of 11 in Auckland. The average score between the 2 sides is 22-26 in favour of the Saders although both teams usually score around 3 tries.
Before last week we would’ve easily backed the Crusaders to win. They are the tournament favourites; and against a Blues side stripped of so much talent before the season even started. But we can’t discount the Blues like last season, this is a massive local derby that could go either way. Even if there is a bit of to and fro, however we expect the CRUSADERS to dust out the cobwebs and clean up the Blues!
The average score between the teams in Auckland is 22-21 in favour of the homeside so expect the margin to be very tight. 2 points.
The odds haven’t been released but the Blues will be given a small head-start.
The 7-time Champs will be favourites against the Blues who’s odds on winning the tournament have shrunk to 15:1 (from 17:1 pre-season) after last week’s win.
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