March 17, 2011 - 9:03PM
Carisbrook Stadium, Dunedin, Saturday 3.30pm (AEDT)
Last meeting: Crusaders bt Highlanders 32-17, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, 2010
Head-to-head: Played 18, Crusaders 12, Highlanders 6
In Dunedin: Played 8, Highlanders 4, Crusaders 4
Referee: Marius Jonker (RSA)
Greg Growden writes:
It was fun while it lasted for the Highlanders, but their unexpected period at the top has come to an end, and the rampaging Crusaders should have no trouble at the House of Pain.
The Highlanders came back to earth last week with a bruising 18-6 loss to the Stormers but nothing recharges their batteries more than a South Island stoush. In a blast from the past, former All Blacks flyhalf Tony Brown will start his first match for the Highlanders in seven years after being plucked from the wider training group with Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga sidelined. Captain Jamie Mackintosh has been bracketed on the bench due to injury but lock Tom Donnelly makes a welcome return to the tight-five. The Crusaders have made two pack changes to the team which humbled the Brumbies 52-10 with Ben Franks joining brother Owen in the front row and Brad Thorn slotting back into the second-row. The halfback battle between Andy Ellis and Jimmy Cowan will be one to watch.
Highlanders: Ben Smith, James Paterson, Kendrick Lynn, Shaun Treeby, Siale Piutau, Tony Brown, Jimmy Cowan (captain), Nasi Manu, Adam Thomson, Jarrad Hoeata, Tom Donnelly, Josh Bekhuis, David Te Moana, Mo Schwalger, Chris King.
Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Bronson Murray, Jamie Mackintosh, Nick Crosswell, Alando Soakai, Aaron Smith.
Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean, Sonny Bill Williams, Adam Whitelock, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks.
Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Wyatt Crockett, Chris Jack, Jonathan Poff, Kahn Fotuali'i, Matt Berquist, Zac Guildford.