SUPER RUGBY PREVIEW : Force vs Crusaders

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tables6The Force will be hoping they can repeat their victory from 2013 when they once again host the Crusaders in Perth on Friday.

The Perth outfit have not enjoyed a good home winning record however against the seven-time champions, who have the scales tipped in their favour. That said, the Crusaders have fallen shy of a win against the Force in Perth in two of the last three outings there.

A victory for the home side will not see them climb the Australian Conference table, but it will certainly help boost their confidence going into their first bye weekend in Round Eight before they host the 2014 champions – the Waratahs – a week later.

The men from Christchurch are however enjoying more positive results, with only one loss – to the Chiefs in Round One – they are four log points behind second placed the Highlanders.

Wins against the Blues, Kings, Sharks and last weekend’s 43-37 try scoring encounter at Ellis Park against the Lions, where Richie Mo’unga returned to form off the kicking tee.

The back three too – David Havili, Johnny McNicholl and even a quiet Nemani Nadolo – caused the Lions all kinds of problems, and it’s that attacking style which is causing some under the radar excitement about the direction of the Crusaders going forward.

A bonus point victory for the visitors would see them temporary occupy second position on the New Zealand Conference, ahead of the Highlanders before their game with the Reds.

The Crusaders are certainly off to a better start than their Australian hosts. The seven-time champions have not lost a game since their opening round 27-21 defeat to the Chiefs in Christchurch. Impressive victories against the Sharks and Lions away from home will certainly boost their confidence as they hope to continue their winning form. The men from Christchurch are six points adrift from the table-topping Chiefs on the New Zealand Conference table.

Previous results:

2014: Crusaders won 30-7 in Christchurch
2013: Force won 16-14 in Perth
2012: Crusaders won 38-24 in Christchurch
2011: Crusaders won 42-30 in Perth
2010: Force won 24-16 in Perth
2009: 23-23 draw in Christchurch
2008: Crusaders won 29-24 in Perth

The teams:

Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pekahou Cowan
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Rory Walton, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Albert Nikoro

Crusaders: 15 Ben Volavola, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Jimmy Tupou, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Jone Macilai

Date: Friday, April 8
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 19:00 local (11:00 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser, Graham Cooper
TMO: Ian Smith


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