Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has named his starting XV for Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Robertson has named an unchanged starting fifteen and bench, meaning the seven-time champions go into their twelfth Super Rugby final with an unchanged match-day 23 for the third game in a row.
— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) August 3, 2017
In a huge boost to the Christchurch-based franchise, All Blacks captain and talisman Kieran Read and vastly experienced prop Owen Franks have been declared fit for Saturday’s do or die clash.
Crusaders stalwart Read, who has made over 140 appearances for the franchise since his debut way back in 2007, has overcome a knee injury which he picked up last weekend in his side’s 27-13 semi-final win over the Chiefs.
Read along with reserve prop Wyatt Crockett, are the only survivors from the team’s last Super Rugby triumph back in 2008.
While 29-year-old Franks, who has just completed his eighth season for Super Rugby’s most successful team, has recovered from an achilles problem to start his third Super Rugby final.
1. Joe Moody. 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Scott Barrett, 5. Sam Whitelock (C), 6. Jordan Taufua, 7. Matt Todd (VC), 8. Kieran Read, 9. Bryn Hall, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. Seta Tamanivalu, 12. Ryan Crotty (VC), 13. Jack Goodhue, 14. Israel Dagg, 15. David Havili
Saturday’s much-anticipated final promises to be a cracker, as Super Rugby’s second (the Lions have racked up 90 tries) and third highest try scorers (the Crusaders have scored 83 tries) meet in a 62,000 sell-out at Ellis Park.
According to assistant coach Brad Mooar, the fact that old heads such as Captain Sam Whitelock, Read, Franks, Crockett and centre Ryan Crotty, have all done well before at one of world rugby’s most iconic stadiums, will be invaluable for them,
“There is a heck of a lot of experience in the group of people who have had success here with the Crusaders and with the All Blacks in the cauldron of Ellis Park so to be able to call on that experience and have the world’s best No8 and All Blacks captain in the mixer is super for us”.
Last year’s beaten finalists the Lions will be looking to pick up their first ever Super Rugby title, and end South African rugby’s Super Rugby drought, which last saw a South African team pick up the title seven years ago.
If they are to make history, their dangerous backline must once again click. If creative half-backs Ross Cronje and Elton Jantjies can get quick, front-foot ball, they can release the likes of Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck, Courtnall Skosan and Andries Coetzee, who can ask serious questions of the Crusaders defence.
Acknowledging that putting pressure on and reducing the time and space of the Lions’ 9,10 and 12 axis was key in stopping them from creating chances and getting attacking momentum, Mooar also said,
“They’re a quick ruck ball team.They create those opportunities and look for momentum to attack and if we can reduce their time and space among their inside backs then that’s not much fun for any No9 or 10. The challenge is to do it. We have to be fully on the whole time”.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena