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The momentum, desire and statistics appear to be all in the favour of the Crusaders.
The home team can win the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition if it beats the Highlanders. It has lost just the once in the new competition and is in control of its own destiny.
The Crusaders have won the last five games against the Highlanders and won them by 20 points or more. Earlier in the Super Rugby Aotearoa season, the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 40-20 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, though that score flattered the visiting team as it scored a couple of converted tries late in the game.
The Hurricanes may have pipped the Crusaders at home 34-32 last game out at the venue, but it is unlikely to happen again. The side has not had back-to-back home defeats since April 2015.
The Highlanders have won only four games in the side’s 21 away matches against the Crusaders.
The Crusaders have the best defence in the competition and have also scored the most points.
The side has few injuries and is likely to welcome back centre Brayden Ennor, who is expected to be available after getting over a toe injury.
Prop Joe Moody missed last weekend because of a bereavement, but could be back this week.
The Highlanders, though, know they have nothing to lose when they go up to Christchurch. The team has lost in Christchurch already this season, going down 33-13 in February before the Super Rugby competition was suspended in March.
The Highlanders’ last win in Christchurch was in 2015 when the visiting side won 25-20.
The only two players still with the Highlanders from the starting team that day are co-captains Aaron Smith and Ash Dixon.
Meanwhile, the Blues have managed to entice a promising Canterbury player north.
The Blues announced yesterday the signing of young lock Sam Darry. Darry (20) is the son of former Dunedin and North Otago lock Hunter Darry.