The Crusaders have flown north to Auckland to face the Blues at Eden Park in an early season rematch of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific final.
Whenever these two meet it’s a proper Kiwi derby, with tensions high and plenty of pride on the line.
Key team news:
Pepesana Patafilo is on debut, set to provide impact off the bench, while Sioni Havili Talitui gets the nod at No 8 after an impressive shift in Fiji.
Injuries continue to plague, testing the franchise’s depth. When he takes the field, front rower George Bower will swap sides to tighthead, while Sevu Reece and Leicester Fainga’anuku occupy space in the centre.
A raft of resting All Blacks return to the starting XV and bench after many were on a rest week in Round 3.
Last time we met:
What more is there to say about the last time the Crusaders played the Blues? It was Eden Park. It was 2022. It was the final. The Crusaders walked away 21-7 up, taking out their sixth straight Super Rugby title.
The Blues will be using the match as a reunion for their Super 12 championship-winning 2003 side, when they beat the Crusaders 21-17.
The Crusaders prepared well last time and are hungry for a win in Round 4. Nothing is guaranteed in sport, especially not with these two sides. Expect fireworks.
Head to head:
Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett face off in a battle of All Blacks No 10s. With a World Cup only months away, both will be looking to prove themselves.
Equally enticing are the head-to-heads of Caleb Clarke and Leicester Fainga’anuku in the 11 jersey, and Mark Talea and Sevu Reece on the right wing.
Referee: James Doleman
Where: Eden Park, Auckland
When: 7:05pm kick off Saturday night (NZT)
Where to watch: Broadcast guide here