Super Rugby - here's the weekend action
The Western Cape's Stormers remain the only undefeated team this season, and their clash against the seven-time champions, the Crusaders, is the pick of week eight’s matches
THE Crusaders have increased their tactical kicking options by picking Dan Carter at inside centre for Saturday’s crunch Super rugby encounter against the Stormers in Christchurch.
It’s not often the world’s greatest flyhalf is asked to play out of position, but after watching Highlanders ball carriers run into a Stormers defensive wall last week, and come off second best, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder appears to be looking for ways over it.
The Stormers remain the only undefeated team this season, and their clash against the seven-time champions is the pick of week eight’s matches that also includes a trans-Juskei derby between the Bulls and Lions.
Crusaders flyhalf Tom Taylor, in conjunction with Carter, could be asked to use clever stab kicks to turn the Stormers defence around.
No side had managed to run through them on a consistent basis so another way must be found.
Of course, kicking away possession against the Stormers, and then relying on a lineout to secure own ball against Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth and Rynhardt Elstadt is a risky ploy.
The Stormers have never beaten the Crusaders at home, but this weekend they have as good a chance as any.
The New Zealanders have travelled back from South Africa following a bruising match against the Bulls and will have to dig deep for another massive physical challenge against the Stormers.
Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn could become the second man to reach 100 points this season if he bags five more points against the Lions at Ellis Park.
If he does get them, he will become only the second player after Carter to reach triple figures in four successive years.
The Bulls should have little difficulty in extending the Lions’ losing streak to six consecutive matches. The Joburg side have suffered a poor run with injuries, and coach John Mitchell is finding it hard to bring his young team up to speed in this tough environment.
A try festival is on the cards when the Cheetahs host the Chiefs on Saturday. They’ve scored 31 tries between them this season but where the Chiefs have been good is in defence, having only leaked six tries to the Cheetahs’ 18.
Give the home side’s defensive frailties coupled with their insatiable desire to score tries, this in one for fans who prefer their rugby fast and loose.
The Sharks end their tour against the Blues in Auckland today boosted by the knowledge that they haven’t lost to the New Zealanders since 2005.
Considering the Aucklanders have also only won a single match this season, this represents a golden opportunity for the Sharks to continue their excellent results against the Blues.
“The fact of the matter is if we think the Hurricanes were a physical side, we know from previous years that the Blues are way more physical,” Sharks prop Jannie du Plessis said.
“I don’t care about their record this year, they have a proud rugby history. Like us, they’re also fighting for their lives, they’re also in a difficult spot.
“It’s going to be a tough game and we’ll need to play ten times better than last week to be in with a shout.”