Posted by Rugby Week on February 21, 2015
The Highlanders will start their Super Rugby season at home against a Crusaders team that will be coming off a loss.
The Highlanders had a bye last week so this will be their first match of the new season and unfortunately they will be up against the team that they have lost their last five matches to.
While the Highlanders will be starting "cold" after a bye last week the Crusaders were anything but "hot" against the Rebels.
Overall the Highlanders have played the Crusaders 26 times since 1996 and the Highlanders have won just 8 matches. The Crusaders have won 18 of these matches which gives the Highlanders a record of winning 31% of their matches against the men from Christchurch.
The average score when the Highlanders play the Crusaders across all venues is : Highlanders 20 Crusaders 30.
The teams have met in Dunedin 12 times since 1997 and the Highlanders have won 5 times and lost 7 times. This gives the Highlanders a slightly more respectable record of winning 41% of their matches against the Crusaders in Dunedin.
In 2012 and and 2014 the Crusaders won but only just as both matches were won with a margin of three points or less.
In terms of selection the Highlanders have named 7 players who could make their debuts on Saturday but they have included both Ben and Aaron Smith as well as Malakai Fekitoa.
After last week's Crusaders loss to the Rebels coach Todd Blackadder has brought Israel Dagg in at fullback and Colin Slade starts at 10. In all there are five changes. Dan Carter is out injured.
The Bookies have given the a Highlanders a 3 point start for this Match - with an offer of a FREE $150 BET. The Crusaders are known for slow starts and after three pre-season losses as well as last week's loss this week might be too soon for them to turn it around completely. Next weekend they will have more of their stars back. The Highlanders should edge this by 2.
This Match will be shown on TV in NZ, Aus, SA and in the UK on Sky Sports 3/HD.
Average score: Highlanders 20 Crusaders 30
Last five results
12 Jul 2014 Highlanders v Crusaders 8-34 Christchurch
24 May 2014 Highlanders v Crusaders 30-32 Dunedin
29 Jun 2013 Highlanders v Crusaders 12-40 Dunedin
20 Apr 2013 Highlanders v Crusaders 8-24 Christchurch
01 Jun 2012 Highlanders v Crusaders 18-51 Christchurch
Highlanders overall record against the CrusadersPlayed 26 , Wins 8, Losses 18, Draws 0
Match No.9: Highlanders v Crusaders
Date : Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Venue : Saturday 21 February 2015
Kick Off local: 19:35 local, 17:35 AEDT, 08:35 SAST
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O'Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:Mike Lash
TMO : Chris Wratt
1. Josh Hohneck , 2. Liam Coltman , 3. Ross Geldenhuys , 4. Tom Franklin , 5. Joe Wheeler , 6. Elliot Dixon , 7. John Hardie , 8. Nasi Manu ( c ) , 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Lima Sopoaga , 11. Patrick Osborne , 12. Shaun Treeby , 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Waisake Naholo , 15. Ben Smith ( c )
Replacements : 16. Ash Dixon , 17. Kane Hames , 18. Ma'afu Fia , 19. Mark Reddish , 20. Dan Pryor , 21. Fumiaki Tanaka , 22. Jason Emery , 23. Marty Banks
1 Wyatt Crockett, 2 Ben Funnell, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Luke Romano, 5 Scott Barrett ,6 Richie McCaw, 7 Matt Todd (c), 8 Luke Whitelock, 9 Mitchell Drummond,10 Colin Slade, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 12 Ryan Crotty, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 14 Robbie Fruean, 15 Israel Dagg
Replacements : 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird , 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Nafi Tuitavake