Round 4 Preview: Blues v Crusaders (2021)

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Match details: Sunday 21 March, 3.35pm, Eden Park, Auckland

Referee: Paul Williams

Played: 37

Won: Crusaders 25, Blues 11, Drawn 1

Last match: Crusaders 26, Blues 15 (11 July 2020)

Watch: Sky Sport (NZ) Rugby Pass (selected international territories).

 

HOMETOWN ADVANTAGE

The Blues are currently on a hot run of five straight wins at Eden Park. The last time they won more games in a row was a seven-game streak in 2010-11. Such a streak would worry most teams in Super Rugby but perhaps not the Crusaders. The Red and Blacks have won their last 12 completed games against the Blues and won’t be overawed by a visit to the Garden. With a big crowd expected on Sunday afternoon, the Blues will be banking on their 16th player (the crowd) to give them a boost to get over the line.

 

BRYN BRINGS UP THE TON

Eden Park is a fitting venue for Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall to bring up his 100th Super Rugby game this weekend. The 29-year-old halfback was born and raised in Auckland and played his first 32 Super Rugby games for the Blues from 2013-2016 before shifting south. He has quickly become a fan favourite for the Crusaders and has won four championships in four seasons with the side. Coach Scott Robertson has elected to give Hall the start in his 100th game ahead of fellow halfback Mitchell Drummond.  

 

LONG TIME BETWEEN DRINKS

It has been seven years since the Blues last toppled the Crusaders. On that day, the Blues prevailed 35-24 in a cracking game at Eden Park. Will history repeat on Sunday? Catch the full game below:

 

 

STATCHAT (Opta)

The Blues have gained an average of 501 metres per game in 2021. In 2020, they failed to reach 500+ metres in any of their 14 matches.

 

THE SCOOP

Whether it be Canterbury v Auckland in the National Provincial Championship or the Blues against the Crusaders in the first decade and a half of Super Rugby, there is no rivalry as fierce or passionate as the one between the Blues and Crusaders. While that rivalry has softened slightly over the last decade due to the Crusaders dominance and the Blues inconsistent performances, there is a feeling that the rivalry is back on. The Blues have undergone a resurgence under the leadership of coach Leon MacDonald and captain Patrick Tuipulotu and a win over the Crusaders would be the final piece of evidence to confirm that the revival is real.

TEAMS

 

Blues:

1: Alex Hodgman 2: Luteru Tolai 3: Nepo Laulala 4: Patrick Tuipulotu (C) 5: Josh Goodhue 6: Akira Ioane 7: Blake Gibson 8: Hoskins Sotutu 9: Jonathan Ruru 10: Otere Black 11: Caleb Clarke 12: Harry Plummer 13: Rieko Ioane 14: Bryce Heem 15: Stephen Perofeta

 

Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Tom Robinson, Adrian Choat, Finlay Christie, TJ Faiane

 

Crusaders:

1.  Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor (VC) 3. Michael Alaalatoa 4. Scott Barrett (C) 5. Samuel Whitelock 6. Ethan Blackadder 7. Sione Havili Talitui 8. Cullen Grace 9. Bryn Hall 10. Richie Mo'unga 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku 12. David Havili (VC) 13. Jack Goodhue 14. Sevu Reece 15. Will Jordan

 

Reserves: Brodie McAlister, George Bower, Oliver Jager, Mitchell Dunshea, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Drummond, Fergus Burke, Dallas McLeod

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