Blockbuster match evoking memorable clashes of yesteryear

Will Jordan
Will Jordan
There is no Dan Carter.

Will Jordan is on the bench.

Unlikely to be much interest then in another beans and potatoes match between the Crusaders and the Blues, right?

Well, no. Fair to say the game has captured the public’s imagination.

The social websites are awash with old clips of matches between the two teams.

With both teams unbeaten in Super Rugby Aotearoa, the game harks back to a time long since past when games between Canterbury and Auckland were virtual All Black trials.

The Crusaders have 10 Super Rugby titles and have put together another star-studded cast this season.

The Red and Blacks have the luxury of starting the match with the competition’s leading try-scorer on the bench.

Jordan has been in terrific form. He has got across the paint for four tries and has beaten more defenders, made more line breaks and scampered further than any other player in the tournament.

Best sit him down then.

The Blues fans will be beside themselves. They start each year with so much hope and inevitably it all goes so horribly wrong.

But not this year. This year there is actual empirical evidence to suggest all hope is not forlorn.

The Blues have won all three of their games and have a backline littered with X-factor players. Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane and winger Caleb Clarke all know how to evade tacklers, while in the pack loose forward Hoskins Sotutu is attracting a lot of attention. He takes some tackling as well.

The Blues also pulled off a major coup this season when they signed All Black great Carter. He is yet to be spotted on the field.

He is closing in on 40 rapidly but his exclusion is perhaps just another sign the Blues might actually be quite good.

 

Crusaders v Blues

Christchurch, 7pm
Crusaders: David Havili, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Whetu Douglas, Tom Christie, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Dunshea, Samuel Whitelock, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor (captain), Joe Moody. 
Reserves: Andrew Makalio, George Bower, Oliver Jager, Quinten Strange, Sione Havili, Mitchell Drummond, Fetuli Paea, Will Jordan.
Blues: Beauden Barrett, Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane, Harry Plummer, Caleb Clarke, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane, Josh Goodhue, Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), Ofa Tuungafasi, James Parsons, Alex Hodgman. 
Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Sione Mafileo, Aaron Carroll, Blake Gibson, Jonathan Ruru, TJ Faiane, Matt Duffie.

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