Preview: Crusaders v Waratahs
Last week's loss to the Chiefs will mean the Crusaders will not be in any mood to do the Waratahs any favours at AMI Stadium on Friday.
HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 19, Crusaders 15, Waratahs 4
WALKING WOUNDED: Returning for the Crusaders after a hamstring injury is hooker Corey Flynn. As a result of lock Sam Whitelock's broken finger Dominic Bird will start while cover for the loose forwards is provided by Counties Manukau flanker Jimmy Tupou.The Waratahs have not been able to include Wycliff Palu for the game. The No.8 suffered a knee injury against the Rebels. As a result Dave Dennis will move to No.8 with Pat McCutcheon playing on the blindside flank. Mitchell Chapman has been forced out of the game for six weeks and Jed Holloway has been called in as cover for the loose forwards. Cam Crawford has recovered from a corked thigh while wing Cam Crawford will play ahead of Drew Mitchell.
FORM: Last week's loss to the Chiefs was a hiccup, potentially costly, for the Crusaders and they need to get their play-offs ambitions back on the road. Before the loss they had been building impressive momentum with a solid win over the Blues (23-3) and closer contests against the Brumbies (30-23) and the Rebels (30-26).
The Waratahs lost to the Rebels in the last round effectively ended their championship for 2013, however, they still have the ability to be a spoiler as their success in their previous three games, against the Brumbies (28-22), the Stormers (21-15) and the Kings (72-10) would suggest. The Crusaders on the other hand are still in with a chance, so long as things fall into place for them. First up would be a win over the Waratahs.
WE THINK: The Waratahs have always struggled to get one over the Crusaders, especially in Christchurch, and it is difficult to see them being able to do it this year. The home team has everything to play for and if they are to retain the prospect of taking a place in the play-offs they need to win. Given previous Crusaders experience the result last week would have stung them and it is most likely the Waratahs will wear that frustration. We pick the Crusaders by 8.