Crusaders vs Blues

This is a match up that sees first playing third on the log but neither team come into this match with confidence as they both lost their last match. The defending champion Crusaders have only 1 win in their last 3 games and that will was with the Golden point over the Hurricanes. They will certainly want to put things right against the Blues in what will be their last home game in the league format. The Blues have a great team on paper but struggle to score points with their halfback pairing not linking their potent backline. They will need their attack to fire if they are to have any chance of victory against the Crusaders. The last 3 weeks the Crusaders have looked ragged and made silly mistakes but I am sure this week the Blues are going to feel the wrath of the defending champions. The major cause of the Crusaders slump has been their pack not being dominant as this is their major weapon and I think teams have worked out that magician Richie Mo’unga is nowhere near his best behind a retreating forward pack. The Blues will look to All Blacks Rieko Ioane and Caleb Clarke to test the Crusaders on the wings but both these players have not been at their best this season. The task for the Blues will be made even more difficult as a full house is expected at Orangetheory Stadium. Both these teams are the most penalized teams in the competition and will need to sort out their discipline to win this match. The return of Sam Whitelock will add steel and experience to the Crusaders and his absence was certainly felt in the crucial moments in last week’s loss.

TIP: The Crusaders have missed their midfield pairing of Jack Goodhue and Brydon Ennor who are out with serious injuries and their replacements are great attacking players but they don’t link the backline and this has provided problems for the halfback combination. I do think that these initial problems are over and this week we will see the Crusaders machine firing on all cylinders. The Blues will still be without hardman and skipper Patrick Tuipulotu and they will struggle in the tight forward exchanges. The Crusaders in front of a full house will win this contest and the best odds on the Crusaders victory are at Worldsportsbetting 1.45, Playabets 1.43 and Sunbet 1.45   

HEAD TO HEAD STATS

Crusaders vs Blues

  • The last seven meetings between the two sides have been won by the Crusaders.
  • The Blues have never beaten the Crusaders at home.
  • The Blues last win against the Crusaders was in 2014.

Latest results for both teams

The Crusaders lost their last match against the Chiefs 26-25 while the Blues also lost their last match against the Highlanders 35-29.

PREDICTION

The Crusaders will be determined to correct the mistakes of the past few weeks and the players will know that Coach Scott Robertson is not a patient man and heads could roll if they don’t put in a top performance. The Crusaders can really empty the tank in this match as this is their last match before the playoffs. The added incentive for the home team is that a victory will guarantee yet another home tie in the playoffs. The Blues without their skipper and lack of discipline could face a huge score against them therefore I’m tipping the Crusaders to win by more than 10 points

  • Probable Starting XVs

Crusaders

15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Tom Sanders, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower

Blues

15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Sam Darry, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe

Odds for this bet

There are the best odds on the Crusaders win:

Worldsportsbetting 1.45

Playabets 1.43

Sunbet 1.45

Odds comparison on Crusaders handicap victory

The complete odds on the Crusaders handicap victory are as follows:

Worldsportsbetting (-5.5) 1.80

Sunbet (-5.5) 1.85

Playabets (-5.5) 1.81

Predictions and Odds in details

The Blues started the season with much fanfare and hype that this season they are going to challenge the Crusaders for the title but like so many seasons before that, this has turned into a damp squib. They will continue to struggle with their below par fly halves Otere Black and Harry Plummer and their much vaunted All Black laden pack flattering to deceive. The Crusaders will look to put the Blues to the sword and send out a warning to the other teams before the playoffs. I can’t see Richie Mo’unga having another quiet game and this could be the game that he unleashes players like Will Jordan and Sevu Reece to run riot against the Blues. This is the reason I expect a comfortable victory for the Crusaders and expect them to easily cover the handicap (-5.5). The best odds on the Crusaders handicap victory are at Worldsportsbetting (-5.5) 1.80, Sunbet (-5.5) 1.85 and Playabets (-5.5) 1.81.

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