Great match-ups in Kiwi 'Test'

Wed, 24 Jul 2013 20:34
Large wyatt crockett crusaders tr Large ben afeaki chiefs Large samwhitelockcrusaderstraining

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder selected an unchanged matchday 22 for what is being described as a 'Test match'.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder selected an unchanged matchday 22 for what is being described as a 'Test match'.

The Crusaders travel to Hamilton on Saturday to face the defending Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs, in the first of the day's two semifinals.

The Bulls host the Brumbies in the other in Pretoria.

Blackadder's decision to leave the team unchanged means All Black captain Richie McCaw will again play off the bench, although he is likely to get more than just the 15-minute cameo he had in the 38-9 demolition of the Reds last week.

With both sides vying to secure themselves a place in the Super Rugby Final it will be an intense, physical and passionate battle.

With some great match up's on the cards; Ben Afeaki/Ben Tameifuna versus Wyatt Crockett, Brodie Retallick versus Sam Whitelock, Matt Todd versus Sam Cane and Kerr-Barlow versus Ellis it is billed as the ‘Test match' of the New Zealand conference.

However it all may come down to the battle of the flyhalves - Dan Carter versus Aaron Cruden.

Who will come out on top?

Either way it is set to be an intense and physical game with the victors going through to the Super Rugby Final.

The Crusaders previously met the Chiefs on 21 occasions, with the Crusaders winning two-thirds of these encounters and scoring on average nine points more a game than their Waikato counterparts.

However, the Chiefs have won the last three of the four encounters and won when it counted, in last year's semifinal, putting an end to the Crusaders title hopes.

The two sides have met twice this season and have come out level pegging with a win a piece.

They last met in Round 19 of the competition when the Crusaders came away with emphatic 43-15 win.

Since then the Crusaders have hit their straps and have won their last five matches in a row.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Whitelock, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock.

Date: Saturday, July 27
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (17.35 NSW/ACT; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9