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or at least reducing
his influence, is the
task confronting the
Crusaders as they
look to maintain their
unbeaten start to the
Super Rugby season.
come to Christchurch
tomorrow riding a six-
match winning streak
since they were beaten
by the Chiefs in round three.
The Crusaders lead the competition
with a 10-from-10 record but are
second to the Hurricanes in terms of
points scored despite last week’s 62-24
crushing of the Bulls, which ended nine
years of pain at Loftus Versfeld.
However, coach Scott Robertson says
it is his team’s defence which will be
thrust under the spotlight as they figure
out how to halt a Hurricanes scoring
machine conducted by All Blacks
“They are a creative side,” Robertson
said of the Hurricanes.
“They have got a great skill set and can
take any opportunity in front of them
and with the players they have got they
can break things open at any time so it
is a bit different to what we have played
the last few weeks.”
Robertson says Barrett ’s
variety of kicks, most
notably his cross-kicks to
the wing, form a central
part of the Hurricanes’
attack. He says the
Crusaders are well aware
of the threat posed by that
but equally if the ball goes
wide to a muscular visiting
“They have got a lot
of power players in the
backline and it is just a
great well-rounded team so we will look
to dominate the contact and the less
opportunities you give them (will be
important),” he said.
Barrett ’s younger brother Jordie has
been a constant weapon in the absence
of injured Hurricanes fullback Nehe
Robertson pointed out they have
their own equivalent in David Havili,
who has impressed with his power and
elusiveness will filling in for injured All
Blacks fullback Israel Dagg.
“ Dave has been consistent and taken
opportunities,” Robertson said.
“ He’s got good footwork and a great
kicking game but the biggest thing for
us is his positional play where he has
been absolutely superb.”
The Cheetahs are already well out of
the running for a Super Rugby finals
berth but Blues boss Tana Umaga says
his troops are braced for a genuine battle
at Eden Park tonight.
The Bloemfontein-based side have
won just two games this campaign and
threw away a 41-24 lead against the
Highlanders last week, shipping three
tries in the last five minutes to lose
The Blues, meanwhile, look high on
confidence after their wins against the
Brumbies and Waratahs and are heavy
favourites for tonight ’s encounter.
Nevertheless, Umaga predicted a
Cheetahs outfit “desperate” to prove
their worth on the Super Rugby stage.
He said the Cheetahs were possibly the
club’s hardest African opponents with
their penchant for running rugby, and
would be written off at his side’s peril.
“They ’ll be disappointed coming off
that (Highlanders) performance for
them at home, so we’ll probably get the
backlash of that,” Umaga said. “(But)
we’re at home ourselves and we want
to keep moving for ward with what we
want to achieve. ” Umaga also underlined
the importance of winning all five of the
Blues’ remaining Super Rugby games, to
give themselves a sniff of the finals.
That task has been made considerably
more difficult by the loss of Sonny Bill
Williams, who is nursing a concussion,
as well as the continued absence of
co-captain and enforcer Jerome Kaino.
Akira Ioane has stepped into the
All Blacks stalwart ’s shoes during his
recovery from a torn meniscus and
impressed Umaga with his precocious
“He’s doing very well for his age group
— he’s still got a bit of improvement to
do, but we’re very happy with him, he’s
stepped up to the job at hand,” Umaga
“He’s pretty good now, so imagine
what he’s going to be like in two or three
years’ time, when he really gets the hang
of the role.” — NZN
Luke Whitelock has been forced out
of the Highlanders’ Super Rugby clash
with the Bulls after picking up a training
His unavailability comes after fellow
loose for ward Liam Squire broke a
thumb early in the team’s dramatic
45-41 win over the Cheetahs last
In Whitelock’s absence, the versatile
Gareth Evans will wear the No 8 jersey
in Pretoria on Sunday morning in one of
six changes to the Highlanders’ starting
Squire’s replacement is Elliot Dixon,
who is promoted from the bench, while
Alex Ainley earns a start at lock with Joe
Wheeler going to the reser ves.
Hooker Liam Coltman gets a break,
making way for Ash Dixon, who also
takes over the captaincy from Whitelock,
while Aki Seiuli will start at loosehead
prop, rotating with Dan Lienert-Brown.
The one other change is in the midfield
backs, where Richard Buckman returns
from injury to replace Rob Thompson.
After scoring three converted tries in
the last five minutes in Bloemfontein to
run down the Cheetahs, the Highlanders
sit fourth in the highly competitive New
Zealand conference with a 7-3 win-loss
The Bulls are second in their
conference, but are coming off a
62-24 thrashing at the hands of unbeaten
competition leaders the Crusaders to
drop to 3-6. — NZN
Blues stay humble ahead
of Cheetahs clash
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