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Thread: ROUND 5 SUPER 14 2009 CRUSADERS VS WESTERN FORCE PREVIEW

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    ROUND 5 SUPER 14 2009 CRUSADERS VS WESTERN FORCE PREVIEW

    ROUND 5 SUPER 14 2009 CRUSADERS VS WESTERN FORCE PREVIEW

    Crusaders v Western Force
    Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
    Kick-off: 5.30pm (local), 3.30pm (AEDT)
    Referee: Marius Jonker

    The Crusaders are one of only two teams the Western Force has yet to beat – the Waratahs are the other – and they may never get a better chance to lower the seven-time champions, than this weekend.

    While the Force paid the price for missing 14 first half tackles as the Chiefs built up a match-winning 21-6 halftime break last Friday; the West Australians did at least improve their performance in the second term, despite losing 13-31. The same cannot be said for the Crusaders who laboured without reward in Dunedin, as the Highlanders advanced from a scoreless first half to kick the only points of the game in a 6-0 victory.

    That defeat has left the Crusaders on the edge of unchartered territory: the most successful franchise in Super Rugby has never before lost four games in a row. Todd Blackadder’s problems have been compounded by young Colin Slade’s goal-kicking struggles, with only four of his 12 shots on goal successful so far, as well as a chronic injury toll which has rubbed skipper Richie McCaw out for the next month at least due to a medial ligament strain in his knee. McCaw joins centre Casey Laulala as well as wingers Jared Payne and Kade Poki on the injured list, while prop Ben Franks and lock Brad Thorn are also struggling on that score.

    Fullback Leon MacDonald may finally return from the shoulder injury he suffered in round one against the Chiefs. The Western Force is without Qantas Wallabies No 8 Richard Brown, who is aiming to return from his injured shoulder in next week’s home game against the Sharks. The visitors will also be aware that, despite their troubles, the Crusaders still boast the stingiest defence in the league, having conceded four less tries than the Force. Both teams have scored nine tries to date in their four matches.

    Last year – Crusaders 29, Western Force 24 at Perth

    In round four – It was bad enough being beaten, but the Crusaders’ ill-fated visit to Carisbrook also saw them held scoreless for the first time in their 172-game history. The Force had surrendered their game in Hamilton by halftime, although an improved second half performance at least offered some promise for the trip south to Christchurch.
    The Exorcists?

    It was the venue of the Western Force’s greatest disaster in Super Rugby.

    Week five takes the West Australians back to the scene of the biggest humiliation in their short history, when thrashed 53-0 by the Crusaders in Christchurch two years ago. The Force had arrived in the South Island that year, having won five of the opening eight, with another drawn, to sit in the top four. The team departed 80-minutes later almost totally demoralised, after conceding eight tries without reply, which matched the number they had let in through their previous eight matches!
    The players won’t need any reminding this week of the catastrophic consequences of that experience. It threw their season into such a tail spin that the Force fell away to lose four of the last five, missing the playoffs in the process. Thirteen players from that galling night at the then Jade Stadium – Drew Mitchell, Cameron Shepherd, Haig Sare, Ryan Cross, Junior Pelesasa, Matt Giteau, Chris O’Young, David Pocock, Matt Hodgson, Nathan Sharpe, Troy Takiari, AJ Whalley and Tai McIsaac – are part of the Force travelling party in New Zealand, and will return to AMI Stadium seeking redemption.


    They will find a vastly different background to what they experienced two years ago. Not only is the ground under a major reconstruction, so too are their opponents! Such has been the combination of off-season departures, and now injury problems, that have shaken up the Crusaders - they will have just eight players from that night left for the ‘re-match’. This number includes lock Ross Filipo, who scored three of the Crusaders’ tries, and flanker Kieran Read, who got two. The win, which was the Crusaders’ first over the Force, was memorable for the Super Rugby heavyweights in more ways than one: not only was it the franchise’s 100th in Super Rugby, at their 148th attempt; it was also coach Robbie Deans’ 100th match in charge

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    As good a time as any to give the Crusaders a beating, for both teams it will truely be won and lost in the top six inches.

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    I hope the Farce players have sorted their contracts with eastern states so they can get back to concentrating on rugby.

    Time to back the local boys and develop junior rugby in WA. Note to rugby WA

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