Watch the Crusaders vs Blues, survive Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event on Saturday from 7.30am
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 09/07/20 4:57pm
From prop to full-back, we look at some of the key match-ups before Saturday’s pivotal Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Crusaders and Blues, live on Sky Sports.
Whetu Douglas vs Hoskins Sotutu
There’s little debate that Blues No 8 Sotutu has been the standout player in Super Rugby Aotearoa to date – but against the Crusaders pack by themselves turf, he’ll face a vastly different challenge.
His direct opposite number on Saturday will undoubtedly be Douglas, a person who perhaps not that way back when was the talk of Super Rugby in New Zealand – if not to the same extent as 21-year-old Sotutu.
Brought in as injury cover from Waikato in 2017 for the injured Kieran Read, Douglas impressed so much at the back of the Crusaders scrum, they wanted a permanent deal signed. The No 8 had already devoted to a contract in Italy with Benetton, however.
In 2019, he came ultimately back to the Crusaders with Read now moved on to Japan considering that the 2019 World Cup, Douglas will be trying to put down a marker.
As such, Sotutu vs Douglas is sure to be one to monitor.
David Havili vs Beauden Barrett
If Sotutu has recently been the most remarkable forward via Super Rugby Aotearoa, after that perhaps the greatest back have been Crusaders full-back Will Jordan. Despite of which, Jordan begins on the counter on Saturday though.
As an outcome, Havili makes the jerk to start from 15, facing All Blacks playmaker Barrett in Christchurch.
Since their shock move, Barrett is continuing to grow in terms of impact and top quality of efficiency in a Blues jersey, and will be scratching to lead their new teammates to what might be a statement outcome away in the reigning three-time champions.
The statements from a Crusaders perspective might be on the omission of Jordan, but Havili is no gentle touch. Indeed, the 25-year-old has been key to name successes within 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Both smart, both fast and the two skilful. Who will stick out more?
Sam Whitelock vs Patrick Tuipulotu
In terms associated with talismanic 2nd row statistics in New Zealand game at the moment, seek out Whitelock from the Crusaders plus Tuipulotu from the Blues.
For a long period, Whitelock have been one of the leading performers not only in Super Rugby, yet on the globe stage plus Test degree. His strength, physicality, work-ethic and set-piece nous is usually outstanding.
Since the beginning of Super Rugby Aotearoa, Blues skipper Tuipulotu’s performances apparently have gone to a new level. The lock has been doing sensational contact form and is an essential leader within Blues rates high.
Whomever of Whitelock or Tuipulotu – both demonstrable package leaders of the respective sides – can marshal their forwards the higher and get the lineout functioning the slicker, will almost certainly be on the winning side.
Joe Moody vs Ofa Tuungafasi
As is really often the case within rugby, the particular scrum would have been a vital aspect of Saturday’s come across.
As was demonstrated in the 2019 Rugby World Cup ultimate between England and South Africa, you just cannot succeed a game associated with rugby with no competing scrum.
The Crusaders package has been around the particular block and it has dominated over a near-regular foundation. The Blues meanwhile, have got struggled significantly in this aspect in recent years.
That is not the case within 2020, however, and most certainly not during Super Rugby Aotearoa.
The critical match-up on Saturday will be encountered Crusaders loosehead Moody facing Blues tighthead Tuungafasi. If one can acquire an edge, the overall game will likely golf swing in their side’s favour.