Crusaders v Sharks Super Rugby Playoffs Preview

Crusaders v Sharks Super Rugby Playoffs Preview

The Crusaders will host the Sharks in Christchurch which will be the first time the sides have met since 2016 with the Crusaders claiming a 14-19 victory in Durban on the day. 

The defending champions have won 17 of the previous 23 encounters between the two sides but the Sharks have caused a few upsets notably in 2014 when the Sharks beat the Crusaders 25-30 in Christchurch despite playing the majority of the match with 14 men. 

Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has named an unchanged 23 for the clash with veteran prop Tendai Mtawarira making his 150th Super appearance in the black jersey.

He holds the record for being the most capped Super Rugby player for a single province and is just behind Adriaan Strauss, who is the most capped South African Super Rugby player with 156.

Team News: 

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has made 5 changes to his starting lineup with Kieran Read and centre Ryan Crotty both declared fit.

Robertson has also recalled All Blacks Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Scott Barrett and David Havili, with the latter replacing Israel Dagg at fullback.

Bryn Hall also switches jerseys with Mitchell Drummond.

CRUSADERS (15-1): David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (c), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Tim Perry

Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele

SHARKS (15-1): Curwin Bosch, Kobus van Wyk, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Robert du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Daniel du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha (c), Tyler Paul, Thomas du Toit, Akker van der Merwe, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Hyron Andrews, Wian Vosloo, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi

Quick Stats:

The Crusaders have won each of their previous meetings in the playoffs.

- The Crusaders have won their last 16 games on the bounce when hosting teams from outside New Zealand

- No South African team has ever won a finals game in New Zealand, with this being the 13th such fixture in Super Rugby history

- While in charge of the Crusaders, Scott Robertson is yet to lose at home to a side from outside New Zealand. 

Referee: Mike Fraser

Venue: AMI Stadium

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