Crusaders and Blues ready to dance at a packed Orangetheory Stadium
Building on the dominance they have achieved over the Blues in recent years will be the goal for the Crusaders in their crucial clash in Christchurch on Saturday.
While the rivalry between the sides is one of the most intense, it has been one-sided, as the Crusaders have won 16 of their last 17 clashes.
They go at it again in Christchurch on Saturday in front of a packed house at Orangetheory Stadium, with both teams needing the win to solidify their chances of a home playoff. Get your TICKETS HERE.
The Blues' only win in 17 games was last year's away game, won 27-23 before the Crusaders came back with their away win to claim the Super Rugby Pacific title 21-7 in the 2022 final at Eden Park.
An extra incentive for the Crusaders is to avoid consecutive home losses against New Zealand opponents, having lost to the Chiefs 24-34 two weeks ago.
Given their placings of third (Blues) and fifth (Cruaders) on the points table, they are close on the statistics comparison front for the season.
They share 4.6 tries per game, third in the competition, but the Crusaders have the superior goal-kicking percentage of 76.8 (fifth) to the Blues, 73.4 (9th) among all teams.
The Blues have made more carries, 133-123.6, gained more carry metres, 972 (first) to 815.9 (fourth), and more line breaks, 8 (first) to 5.4 (ninth) across the campaign. They are the top two passing teams, 174.7 (Blues) to 165.8, while the Crusaders have kicked from hand more, 25.4 (second) to 22.9 (eighth).
Shaken up!— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 9, 2023
Here is how things are sitting on the road to the #SuperRugbyPacific Finals!
What changes are you predicting? 🔮 pic.twitter.com/tUy9HYBE09
The Crusaders have had to make more tackles in games, 156.2 (fifth) compared to 139.7 (10th) for the Blues, while they have missed more tackles, 22.9 (sixth) compared to 18.1 (second) by the Blues.
Given how they dominated the Blues in lineouts in last year's final, the Crusaders will be looking to lift in that area again from the 83.8 per cent (10th) they have managed this season compared to 86.9 (fifth) by the Blues.
Their scrums are close in success, the Crusaders second with 97.1 per cent and the Blues third with 94.9 and only one-tenth of a per cent separates them in ruck success; the Blues ranked fourth and the Crusaders fifth.
On an individual basis, first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga will go into the game three points short of securing another century of points for the competition.
Wing Leicester Fainga'anuku will be the leading try scorer on the field with nine, while hooker Ricky Riccitelli and wings Mark Telea and Caleb Clarke all have six tries each for the Blues.
First five-eighths Beauden Barrett is fifth-ranked among players for try assists with six, while Mo'unga shares eighth with Blues halfback Finlay Christie for five try assists.
Telea is fourth for metres gained with 949, while Clarke has 866 in eighth place. Telea has beaten 49 defenders, the third-highest in the competition, while Mo'unga is fifth with 34.
Blues No8 Hoskins Sotutu is sixth equal for offloads made during the competition and third for carries made with 103.
Crusaders flanker Tom Christie is third on the most successful tackles with 128, eight behind Reds loosie Fraser McReight.
🔴🔵 Whose side are you on?— Super Rugby NZ (@SuperRugbyNZ) May 9, 2023
Crusaders v Blues, Saturday 13 May, 7.05pm, Orangetheory Stadium. pic.twitter.com/gagyjq4KmW
Elsewhere in Round 12, the unbeaten Chiefs return to Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth for the first time since 2017 to take on the Queensland Reds at 7.05pm Friday night. Grab your TICKETS HERE to see if the Chiefs can make it 11 wins on the trot in 2023.
At 9.35pm NZT on Friday, the Western Force play host to the Fijian Drua in a clash which is crucial to both sides chances of making the top eight.
Saturday kicks off with the Hurricanes v Moana Pasifika at Sky Stadium at 4.35pm NZT. Grab your TICKETS HERE to see if the Hurricanes can bounce back from last week’s loss in Fiji or if Moana Pasifika can pick up a big scalp after falling agonizingly short to the Blues in round 11.
The Crusaders and Blues clash in the match of the round at 7.05pm NZT in Christchurch before the Rebels and Waratahs square off at 9.35pm NZT at Allianz Stadium in match that will have huge implications on the make-up of the top eight.
The final game of round 12 emanates from Canberra where the ACT Brumbies host the Highlanders at GIO Stadium at 4.35pm. It’s a must-win game for the Highlanders to stay in touch with the top eight.
Catch all the action live on Sky Sport NZ.
12 years ago, Julian Savea scored his first ever try for the @Hurricanesrugby 🤩— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 10, 2023
Today he is equal top try scorer of all-time!
Can he break the record this weekend?#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/lhFF0KLNv2