Blues v Crusaders final rematch to light up round four

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The Crusaders head north after a loss to the Fijian Drua, their second of the season after a first-round loss to the Chiefs. They have more reason than usual to be looking to inflict a second loss on the Blues.

The pair contested last year's final, the Crusaders ignoring a 15-game winning streak to rock the Blues through their lineout to claim a 21-7 and their sixth consecutive Super Rugby championship (including Super Rugby Aotearoa titles in 2020 and 2021).

Earlier, the Blues had ended a 14-match losing streak to the Crusaders when winning their regular season game 27-23 in Christchurch. A clutch Rieko Ioane tackle in the corner secured their first win in the southern city since 2004.

Since the introduction of Super Rugby in 1996, the results ledger shows that in 41 games played, the Crusaders have 28 wins, to 12 for the Blues with one draw.

The Blues, who are playing their first home game for 2023, will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats at Eden Park for the first time since 2020.

Similarly, the Crusaders last lost consecutive games in 2018.

Statistics also point to some differences between the two in 2023.

The Blues have carried for 639 metres this year, the highest return in the competition, while the Crusaders have managed 100 metres fewer than their opponents.

The defending champions have been especially powerful in the maul. Their 78 metres gained across their games lead the competition, while the Blues have only made 28m. The four tries the Crusaders have scored from their maul is twice as many as all other sides.

Both sides have handled kick returns well, as they have two players in the top four in the competition. Crusaders' first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga has returned 140m, and the Blues' fullback Stephen Perofeta has gained 100m from kick returns.

Against that, Blues No8 Hoskins Sotutu has made 25 dominant carries in 2023, seven more than any other player.

And on the tackle front, Crusaders flanker Sione Havili heads the competition with five dominant tackles, one more than Blues' skipper and flanker Dalton Papali'i.

The stage is set for an epic contest between the old foes at Eden Park on Saturday night. Grab your tickets HERE.

Elsewhere across New Zealand, Kids Round is celebrated with special ticket offers, activities and more.

The action kicks off on Friday night in Wellington when the Hurricanes host the NSW Waratahs at Sky Stadium. The Hurricanes welcome back skipper Ardie Savea for what will be the Hurricanes 50th match against Australian sides on New Zealand soil. Grab your tickets HERE.

At 4.35pm on Saturday afternoon, the unbeaten Gallagher Chiefs face an intriguing challenge from a Melbourne Rebels side who knocked over the Waratahs in round three and pushed the Hurricanes to the brink in Super Round. Grab your tickets HERE.

The last of the Kids Round matches to take place in New Zealand is in Invercargill at 3.35pm on Sunday when the Highlanders host the Western Force.

The Highlanders have a great opportunity to nab their first win of 2023 against a side who has to make the long trek from Western Australia all the way to the foot of the South Island. Grab your tickets HERE.


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