The Waratahs face a daunting task when they take on the Crusaders in what promises to be an entertaining encounter in Christchurch on Friday.
Although the Crusaders’ eight-match winning streak came to an end, when they lost to the Highlanders in Dunedin last weekend, the Waratahs know that they will have deliver a brilliant performance if they want to beat their hosts in front of their fanatical supporters.
Matches between these sides are often tense affairs, and although the men from Sydney have won their last two matches against the Crusaders, both those matches were played in Sydney, they haven’t beaten their opponents in Christchurch since 2004.
That 43-19 victory was also the only time that the 2014 champions have been victorious against the Crusaders on New Zealand soil with the other 11 encounters all going to the the seven-time champions.
The Waratahs will take heart from their previous performance in Christchurch though, when they pushed their hosts all the way before suffering a narrow 23-22 loss.
The Crusaders are a side on a mission, however, and although they lost to the champions last weekend they want to consolidate their position at the top of the New Zealand Conference and the Australian Group.
They are deadlocked on 37 points, alongside the Chiefs and Highlanders, a whopping seven points more than the Waratahs, who are the current Australian Conference leaders.
Despite their blip against the Highlanders, the Crusaders are still one of the tournament’s most potent attacking teams and have the statistics to back up that claim.
They are at the top of the charts for clean breaks (162) and offloads (157) and are third highest for metres gained (4876) and tries scored (44) with only the Chiefs and Hurricanes doing better than them in the two latter departments.
Although the Waratahs are no slouches on attack, it will take a special effort to get the better of Todd Blackadder’s troops in front of their home fans.
2015: Waratahs won 32-22 in Sydney
2014: Waratahs won 33-32 in Sydney (Final)
2013: Crusaders won 23-22 in Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 37-33 in Sydney
2011: Crusaders won 33-18 in Nelson
2010: Crusaders won 20-13 in Christchurch
2009: Crusaders won 17-13 in Sydney
2008: Crusaders won 20-12 in Christchurch (Final)
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Jone Macilai, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mika Alaalatoa, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 David Havili, 23 Marty McKenzie
Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Davie Dennis, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan
Replacements: 16 Angus Ta’avao, 17 Hugh Roach, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Matt Carraro, 23 Zac Guildford
Date: Friday, May 20
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden, Kane McBride
TMO: Chris Wratt