Highlanders to test unbeaten Crusaders in Super clash

Sun, 28 May 2017 07:01

REACTION: The Crusaders will pitch their unbeaten 13-match run against the in-form Highlanders in an enticing Super Rugby showdown after yet another New Zealand rampage this weekend.

The seven-time champions registered a 41-19 bonus-point victory over the hapless Melbourne Rebels to protect an 11-point lead at the top of the all-conquering New Zealand conference with one week remaining until the break for the international Test window.   

The Crusaders look set to finish top of the regular season standings, but they face a test of their title credentials against the Highlanders at home next weekend.

The Highlanders flexed their muscles with a 44-28 win over Australia's Waratahs in Dunedin for their ninth consecutive win, and fancy their chances of ending the Crusaders' march.

The benchmark Crusaders scored six tries to three and although they encountered stiffer resistance from the Rebels in the second half after leading 31-7 at half-time, they still won by 22 points.

The latest victory equalled the 13-match unbeaten record of the 2002 Crusaders - who featured current coach Scott Robertson.

"We wanted to come away with a performance we were proud of and we wanted to play quick and fast rugby, and we did that," Robertson said.

"We probably didn't always execute when we could have and left a lot tries out there but that was pleasing all the same."

Highlanders head coach Tony Brown knows that his team will have to be at their very best if they are to dent the Crusaders' hopes of a top spot finish.

"Massive," Brown called it when he spoke to nzherald.co.nz. "It's why you play the game.

"To go and play the Crusaders in Christchurch in front of a full stadium, where both teams are going to go hell for leather and throw the ball around and be really physical, it's going to be an intense match. 

"There's no better way to finish before the [international] break."

Sources: AFP & nzherald.co.nz

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 29 July 2017
Crusaders v Chiefs 07h35 Christchurch
Golden Lions v Griquas 10h00 Johannesburg
Lions v Hurricanes 12h30 Ellis Park
Sharks v Pumas 15h00 Durban
Sun, 30 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Western Province 12h30 Bloemfontein
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 July 2017
Pumas v Golden Lions 43 | 36
Sat, 22 July 2017
Griquas v Blue Bulls 45 | 51
Stormers v Chiefs 11 | 17
Lions v Sharks 23 | 21
Crusaders v Highlanders 17 | 0
Fri, 21 July 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 47 | 12
Brumbies v Hurricanes 16 | 35
Sat, 15 July 2017
Sharks v Lions 10 | 27
Bulls v Stormers 33 | 41
Force v Waratahs 40 | 11
Hurricanes v Crusaders 31 | 22
Chiefs v Brumbies 28 | 10
Sunwolves v Blues 43 | 21
Fri, 14 July 2017
Kings v Cheetahs 20 | 21
Rebels v Jaguares 29 | 32
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28