PREVIEW: Crusaders v Stormers
Thursday, March 1, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Wins: Crusaders 16, Stormers 4, Draws 1
Last match: Crusaders 57, Stormers 24, April 22, 2017
The Crusaders started their Super Rugby campaign with a bonus point 45-23 win over the Chiefs last weekend. But the win didn’t come as easy as the score line suggests with two late intercept tries blowing out the score for the Crusaders. The Stormers were good in round one with a 28-20 win over the Jaguares but suffered last minute heartbreak against the Waratahs last week in going down 34-27.
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With All Blacks Kieran Read, Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Israel Dagg and Tim Perry all side-lined through injury, the Crusaders received more unwelcome news this week. Inspirational loose forward Matt Todd has been ruled out for several weeks due to a broken thumb suffered during last week’s clash against the Chiefs and has been replaced by Billy Harmon on the side of the scrum. The Stormers have some injury woes of their own with first five-eighth Damian Willemse ruled out of the clash. He has been replaced by dynamic outside back Dillyn Leyds in the pivot position which could point to an expansive game plan from the Stormers.
Although named on the bench with Sam Whitelock and Scott Barrett starting in the second row, lock Luke Romano is poised to bring up his 100th Super Rugby cap against the Stormers. Romano debuted for the Crusaders in 2011 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the slickest lineout operators in the game. His consistent form for the Crusaders has been rewarded on the international stage with 31 Test for the All Blacks. Romano is a crowd favourite at AMI Stadium and is sure to receive a huge ovation if he is called into action by Coach Scott Robertson.
Despite their injury woes, the Crusaders are heavy favourites to overcome the Stormers at home. But the result might not be that straight forward. The Stormers have a backline stacked with game-breakers and will be looking to attack at any opportunity with Dillyn Leyds at first five-eighth. If the Stormers can gain parity upfront against a strong Crusaders tight-five, then this game could be a lot closer than many people think.
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Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Peter Samu, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Chris King, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele
Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Kobus van Dyk, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 George Whitehead
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