Friday, May 02, 2008

Super 14. Day 12 previews

at Jade Stadium, Christchurch at 5.35pm
Last meeting: Sharks 27-26 in Durban, round 5, 2007

Sure there was a minor blip two weeks ago, but the Crusaders show just rolls on. Just take a look at their points differential - at 191 it's more than a hundred better than the next best in the competition. As if there was any doubt, Robbie Deans' men can guarantee their home semi-final with a win in Christchurch, where they are six from six against the Sharks. Last time the two sides met there, the Crusaders put on 77 points. All of which is bad news for the Sharks, whose five-match road trip was always going to test their high-flying status. Losses to the Brumbies and Waratahs and an injury to star Frenchman Frederic Michalak mean they are danger of losing their mantle as South Africa's best team to the fast finishing Stormers, as well as their spot in the top four.

Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Kade Poki, Casey Laulala, Tim Bateman, Sean Maitland, Stephen Brett, Andrew Ellis, Nasi Manu, Richard McCaw (capt), Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks.
Reserves: Ti'i Paulo, Wyatt Crockett, Ross Filipo, George Whitelock, Kahn Fotuali'i, Hamish Gard, Caleb Ralph.

Sharks: Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Waylon Murray, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski, AJ Venter, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller (capt), Albert van den Berg, BJ Botha, Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Rudolf Badenhorst, Jannie du Plessis, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel, Andries Strauss, Henno Mentz, Adrian Jacobs.

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