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The two sides who have appeared in more Super Rugby Grand Finals than any other, the Crusaders and the Brumbies, face each other in the opening round of the 2017 tournament at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday. The Crusaders, who have won seven titles and appeared in four other finals, only managed a sixth position in 2016 on the overall ladder, although they had a record that shows 11 wins and just four defeats during the regular season. They qualified for the quarter-finals, but came unstuck against the Lions in Johannesburg.
On home soil in Christchurch, the Crusaders won six times, including all three games that they played against Australian opposition, while losing just twice. They also won both matches that they played in Australia, including a 40-14 thumping of the Brumbies. The Brumbies were the only Australian side to make it into the knockout phase of the tournament in 2016, but they were beaten in Canberra by the Highlanders 9-15, During the regular season, they had won four times on the road, but only once outside of Australia, at the Cheetahs. The only match that they played in New Zealand ended in a 10-23 loss at the Highlanders.
Posted: 3rd May 2014
An intriguing clash is in prospect is in store for Christchurch Rugby League Park, on Saturday, when the Crusaders clash with the Brumbies from across the Tasman Sea. Crusaders are currently in eighth place on the overall table, but sit a mere two points outside a wild card play-off position. While their visitors are in second position, just a point behind the table topping Sharks, but only three points ahead of the Force at the head of the Australian Conference.
The Crusaders coach, Todd Blackadder has made five changes to the Crusaders team that defeated the Chiefs two weeks ago. The most notable change being the return of All Black skipper Richie McCaw to the starting XV. McCaw has recovered from the broken thumb that had kept him out of the side, and returns at open side. Matt Todd retains the No. 7 jersey, but there is another change to the back row combination as Luke Whitelock replaces Kieran Read at No.8, with Read rules out due to a concussion suffered against the Chiefs last time out. Kieron Fonotia returns from injury to take his place in the centre, with Tom Taylor and Luke Romano taking seats on the replacements bench. Blackadder continues his policy of rotating the hookers and his halfbacks. Therefore, Ben Funnell starts in the middle of the front row, and Andy Ellis comes back into the XV at halfback.
Tags: Super Rugby
, AMI Stadium
, Rugby League Park
, Todd Blackadder
, Richie McCaw
, Luke Whitelock
, Luke Romano
, Ben Funnell
, Andy Ellis