Thursday, March 20, 2008

Previews of Friday's Super 14 matches

Super 14 Round 6
Friday 21 March

at AMI Stadium, Christchurch, 5.35pm
Last meeting: Crusaders 34-33 in Sydney, March 2007

A litmus test for the Waratahs who are three from four this year but who are yet to convince the masses of their title bona fides. Last week's break may have come at a good time after a scratchy win over the Brumbies in round four and the team is reasonably settled, save for still missing winger Timana Tahu (hamstring). Lock Dean Mumm replaces Will Caldwell in the starting XV with ex-Queensland half Josh Valentine coming on to the bench. The Crusaders were in second gear against the Cheetahs but did look vulnerable against the Force a fortnight ago. They'll miss versatile fullback Leon MacDonald (rested) but Scott Hamilton - who moves from wing to No.15 and Caleb Ralph - who'll wear the No.11, are seasoned performers. The Waratahs played arguably their best match against the Crusaders in an otherwise ordinary 2007, going down by a point in Sydney. They'll be competitive but look to be a class below Robbie Deans' troops.

Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Scott Hamilton, Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman, Kade Poki, Daniel Carter, Andrew Ellis, Mose Tuiali'i, Richard McCaw (capt), Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks.
Res: Ti'i Paulo, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Paterson, Nasi Manu, Kahn Fotuali'i, Caleb Ralph, Sean Maitland.

Waratahs: Lachie Turner, Alfi Mafi, Ben Jacobs, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri, Kurtley Beale, Brett Sheehan, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (capt), Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Dean Mumm, Matt Dunning, Adam Freier, Sekope Kepu.
Res: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Al Baxter, Will Caldwell, Beau Robinson, Josh Valentine, Sam Harris, Rob Horne, Benn Robinson.

Saturday 22 March

Sunday 23 March

Hurricanes & Sharks Bye

Crusaders go for Bateman at 12

Deans wary of unpredictable Waratahs out wide

Crusaders at full strength for Waratahs

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