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Teams and statistics for Investec Super Rugby Qualifiers

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SANZAR     21 Jul 2012     Getty Images

The Bulls three titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010 came with the prized scalp of the Crusaders in every one of those season’s semi-finals – although those matches were played in Pretoria and Soweto. The Crusaders have never had a team derail their title ambitions of late as much as their incoming opponents.

The red and black team are a perfect thirteen wins from the same number of Finals Series matches at home since they first contested knockout rugby in 1998, while they are eight from eight against the Bulls in New Zealand.

So despite the Bulls iron grip over the Crusaders in the Republic, winning seven from eleven, the fourth placed wildcard qualifying New Zealand Conference franchise will look to home advantage to put them in view of what could be remarkable eleventh final.

Not only do the Bulls have to overcome the Crusaders brilliant record on home soil, the best in Super Rugby, they have to battle against the ledger of claiming just six victories in New Zealand in 37 matches.

Yet the Bulls play a brand of rugby that has always troubled the counter-attack conscious Crusaders, and they enter the Super Rugby Finals Series as the most effective try scoring team, with their 50 scored bettered only by the Eliminated Hurricanes (58).

2012 Super Rugby Finals Series

Super Rugby Qualifier
Crusaders (4th placed wildcard) v Bulls (5th placed wildcard)
AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand
Kick off (1935 local, 1935 NZT, 1735 NSW/ACT, 0935SAT, 0735 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
AR Keith: Brown
AR: Glen Jackson
TMO: Garratt Williamson

HEAD TO HEAD:

Played 19: Crusaders 12, Bulls 7
Points aggregate: Crusaders 641, Bulls 455
Tries aggregate: Crusaders 73, Bulls 43

Last match: Bulls 32 – 30 Crusaders @ Loftus Verfeld, Pretoria (2012SR, RD7)
Record in Christchurch - Played 7: Crusaders 7, Bulls 0
Record in Super Rugby Finals Series – Played 4: Bulls 3, Crusaders 1

Crusaders 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 11, Lost 5,
485 PF (2nd overall), 342 PA (3rd overall), 47 tries (3rd equal overall)

Bulls 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 10, Lost 6
472 PF (3rd overall), 369 PA (7th overall), 50 tries (2nd overall)

TEAMS:

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Richie McCaw (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Sean Maitland.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.

Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Deon Stegmann, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Francois Venter.

It might have taken a devastating Brumbies defeat at home to the Blues, and the equalling of the second best winning streak of any franchise in the 2012 Super Rugby season, but the defending champions were able to keep their bid to go back-to-back alive.

With the Australian Conference wrapped up for the second straight year, the Reds are the best in the country, but would like to prove their dominance in the Southern Hemisphere, after the young team went one step further than their famous Queensland counterparts in 1996, 1999 and 2001.

The Sharks have made their eighth Super Rugby Finals Series, but the Bulls three-titles and the Stormers back-to-back Conference championships mean that the men from Durban are still to emerge from the shadows of their Pretoria and Cape Town based rivals.

Three times the Sharks have contested a final, and if they are to become the sixth team to claim Super Rugby supremacy, winning at the home of the current champions would be an ideal launching point.

The concern for the Sharks is that they have lost five matches on the road this season, while coming up against a Reds team that has won sixteen of their last eighteen at Suncorp Stadium.

2012 Super Rugby Finals Series

Super Rugby Qualifier
Reds (Australian Conference winners) v Bulls (6th placed wildcard)
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland
Kick off (1940 local, 2140 NZT, 1940 NSW/ACT, 1140 SAT, 0940 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
AR: Craig Joubert
AR: James Leckie
TMO: Matt Goddard
HEAD TO HEAD:

Played 14: Reds 8, Sharks 6
Points aggregate: Reds 327, Sharks 342
Tries aggregate: Reds 35, Sharks 43

Last match: Sharks 27 – 22 Reds @ Mr Price King’s Park, Durban (2012SR, RD4)
Record in Brisbane - Played 6: Reds 5, Sharks 1
Record in Super Rugby Finals Series – Played 0

Reds 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 11, Lost 5,
359 PF (9th equal), 347 PA (4th overall), 38 tries (7th overall)

Sharks 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 10, Lost 6
436 PF (5th overall), 348 PA (5th overall), 47 tries (3rd equal)

TEAMS:

Reds: 15. Luke Morahan, 14. Dom Shipperley, 13.Anthony Faingaa, 12. Mike Harris, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Ben Lucas, 9. Will Genia(c), 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Liam Gill, 6. Jake Schatz, 5. AdamWallace-Harrison (vc), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. James Slipper, 2. Saia Faingaa, 1.Greg Holmes

Replacements: 16. James Hanson,?17. Ben Daley,?18. Radike Samo,?19.Jarrad Butler,?20. Beau Robinson,?21. Nick Frisby,?22. Ben Tapuai

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (capt), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.