Regional | Auckland Blues

Crusaders-Blues top of the table clash a sellout

The Crusaders are hometown favourites in Saturday night's sellout top of the table clash with the Blues.

Both teams go into the game with three wins each, with the Blues the Super Rugby Aotearoa 'surprise package' after sweeping aside the Hurricanes (30-20), Chiefs (24-12) and Highlanders (27-24) in earlier rounds.

The Crusaders are riding high after last week's 40-20 thumping of their southern neighbours, the Highlanders, and have history very much on their side.

The Blues last won in Christchurch 16 years ago, 38-29, and of the 35 games the two teams have played against each other over the years, the Crusaders have won 24 and the Blues 11.

The Crusaders currently have a two-point lead over the Blues on the Super Rugby Aotearoa ladder after securing bonus points in two of their victories.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald says his team are realistic about the challenge they face.

“The Crusaders are the benchmark in New Zealand rugby so we are under no illusion about the task ahead of us. They are undefeated in the last 35 games of Super Rugby at home.

“Just because we have won the last three games, we know that means nothing in the scheme of things.”

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson is full of praise for MacDonald.

"Leon is a great coach, that’s why I had him in my All Blacks coaching group. I knew he was world class and knew he would turn the team [Blues] around. They’ve done extremely well with a lot of the local guys in there and it shows work ethic and how much care they have in their group and organisation.”

The Crusaders v Blues game is at 7.05pm this evening.

In the other game this weekend, the Hurricanes are home to the Highlanders on Sunday afternoon.

Crusaders: 15: David Havili 14: Sevu Reece 13: Braydon Ennor 12: Jack Goodhue 11: George Bridge 10: Richie Mo'unga 9: Bryn Hall 8: Whetukamokamo Douglas (VC) 7: Tom Christie 6: Tom Sanders 5: Mitchell Dunshea 4: Samuel Whitelock 3: Michael Alaalatoa 2: Codie Taylor 1: Joe Moody

Reserves: 16. Andrew Makalio 17. George Bower 18. Oliver Jager 19. Quinten Strange 20. Sione Havili 21. Mitchell Drummond 22. Fetuli Paea 23. Will Jordan

Blues: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu ©, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman

Reserves: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Aaron Carroll, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 TJ Faiane, 23 Matt Duffie.