The Crusaders and the Western Force face off in a tantalising afternoon rugby spectacle in Christchurch on Saturday 6 May.
It’s Round 11 with just five regular rounds left in Super Rugby Pacific before finals footy in early June. The pressure is on all teams to finish as high as they can on the table. Every minute, every point, every match matters.
The Crusaders sit 5th on the competition table, while the Force sit 10th ahead of Saturday’s clash. Kick off 4.35pm at Orangetheory Stadium.
Will Jordan is back in action on home soil to the jubilation of Crusaders (and All Blacks) fans across the rugby landscape. Expect speed, finesse, and line breaks. Last time we played the Force, Jordan scored three of our eight tries.
“[Will Jordan] definitely changes the dynamic of our backline,” said Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson ahead of the weekend’s clash.
“He can kick, he can run, he can read a game, he can anticipate things – it’s exciting.”
Macca Springer takes a spot on the right wing, not his usual but he’s excited.
Noah Hotham starts at halfback after impressing team management, more than ready to step in with Willi Heinz on the sideline for a few weeks with a calf strain.
LAST TIME WE MET
We faced the Force on 7 May 2022 in Round 12 of Super Rugby Pacific ’22. It’s Round 11 and 6 May this time around – will the result be similar too? The scoreline when we trekked across to Perth was 53-15 to our boys in red and black.
Jordan scored three, Fainga’anuku scored three, George Bell scored one as did Pablo Matera.
But you can never discount the Force. They beat the Highlanders two weeks ago 30-17 and almost took down the Hurricanes weeks earlier when the Wellingtonians won 45-22.
Surely the most talked about match up here will be Manasa Mataele coming up against Leicester Fainga’anuku. Mataele played 32 games for the Crusaders between 2017-2021 before jumping the ditch all the way to Perth to play for the Force. He’s earned 4 international caps for Fiji too.
Tamaiti Williams will be looking across the scrum at Santiago Medrano, the Argentinian front rower who’s earned 33 caps for his national side. Previously signed with the Jaguares, he joined the Force in 2021.
Cullen Grace comes up against Isi Naisarani, the 28-year-old Fijian-born Wallaby. He’s earned 8 caps for Australia and spent some time in Japan for the Shizuoka Blue Revs.
Keep an eye on Richie Mo’unga’s corresponding No 10 in Max Burey – on debut in the playmaker’s jersey. He’s fresh off a couple of international tours with Australia 7s and was named the Force’s ‘most valuable player’ during the side’s pre-season tour of Japan.
Chase Tiatia, fullback for the Force and a well-known name in New Zealand rugby circles, comes up against Will Jordan. Tiatia in New Zealand born and has more than 70 NPC appearances, 14 appearances for the Chiefs and 16 for the Hurricanes. Meanwhile Will Jordan has scored 175 points across 45 appearances for the Crusaders, 105 points across 21 appearances for the All Blacks.
Kickoff: 4.35pm, Saturday 6 May
Referee: Brendon Pickerill