Crusaders

Tamanivalu turns down Chiefs

Powerful utility back Tamanivalu had been chased by Colin Cooper about a move back to Hamilton, confirming he had spoken to the incoming Chiefs coach on the phone.

However, the three-test All Black has decided to spend a second season with the Crusaders and said it was a relatively straight-forward decision when he thought about how much he has been enjoying this first year with the team.
 
"I have been loving playing for this team and learning from the coaches and players around me.

Crusaders still at full strength

By sticking with the 23 men who combined to dust-up the Highlanders 17-0 in the wet, slippery conditions during the quarterfinal at AMI Stadium last weekend, Robertson has signaled the Crusaders believe they are capable of executing a variety of game plans during the sudden-death fixture.

Rain is forecast to fall in Canterbury over the next few days, but to clear by Saturday afternoon.

Chiefs up against history

By flying into New Zealand from South Africa, as they will on Tuesday morning, then winning a playoff match, they will have ended a 12-game losing streak for teams in such situations, that stretches back almost 20 years.

Travelling teams have struggled in the playoffs full stop, winning just 23 per cent of matches, but when they have to fly across the Indian Ocean, and then across the Tasman, that figure falls to 13 per cent.

Clinical Crusaders crush Highlanders

Chasing their eighth title and first since 2008, the Crusaders will remain in Christchurch next week to meet either the Stormers or the Chiefs who play later on Saturday in Cape Town.

RNZI reports driving rain and wind greeted both teams at a sodden AMI Stadium, but the conditions played into the hands of the home side's dominant pack while dampening the Highlanders' attacking firepower.

Front-rowers Joe Moody and Codie Taylor rumbled over for tries to drive the Crusaders to a 17-0 lead at halftime that the Highlanders were unable to budge in the second half.

Hurricanes end Crusaders unbeaten run

The home team clawed their way back from a 12-7 halftime deficit to outscore the Crusaders four tries to three and exact revenge for their 20 -12 defeat in May.

The win means the Hurricanes will now head to Canberra to play the Brumbies in next weekend's quarter final, while the Crusaders return to Christchurch for a potential match-up against the Highlanders.

The Hurricanes had been forced into major shakeup of their backline immediately before the game with flyhalf Beauden Barrett a late withdrawal due to illness, while Vince Aso was injured during the warmup.

Crusaders rotate front row for Hurricanes clash

The trio who started all three tests against the British and Irish Lions have been left out of the starting lineup are being rested on advice from medical staff.

The side will still have seven All Blacks in its starting lineup including Israel Dagg and Keiran read - Sam Whitelock is on the bench.

RNZI reports Ryan Crotty is still out of action with a hamstring injury he suffered in the first Lions test, but should be back for the quarterfinal next weekend.

Lions claw back respect with win over Crusaders

Coming into the third match of their tour, Warren Gatland's Lions were not fit for purpose, midweek defeat by the Blues giving the British press corps serious jitters. Lions exposed and lacking 'x-factor', they declared, almost in unison.

But a gutsy 12-3 win over the redoubtable Crusaders on a cold, greasy night in Christchurch (billed by some as the fourth 'test') has transformed the mood. It was ever thus.

Crusaders out to prove a point

Questions raised over the quality of the Lions will be amplified if they suffer another early tour loss, having succumbed to the Blues on Wednesday following a limp opening win over the provincial Barbarians.

The Super Rugby-leading Crusaders on Saturday present arguably the most daunting obstacle outside the three Tests.

Keen to remind them of that is assistant coach Leon MacDonald, who said the tourists will struggle to generate team spirit - the lifeblood of any successful campaign - if they're not getting results.

Crusaders game holds huge implications for Lions

The visitors delivered an unconvincing win against the semi-professional Provincial Barbarians in their opening game and on Wednesday lost to the Blues, New Zealand's worst-performing Super Rugby side this season.

The Crusaders always loomed as the toughest opponents of the opening 10 days and Gatland has decided to field what appears to be the strongest Lions side yet in a bid avoid what would be a dispiriting second defeat so early on the tour.

Crusaders hot for Southern derby

Official records note the Crusaders beat the Brumbies in the competition's opening weekend, but the reality is the magnificent charge that has led to them equalling the 2002 champion side's effort of 13 straight victories began in that second round fixture in Dunedin on March 4.

Time might heal some wounds but for those south of the Waitaki River, the memory of the Crusaders screaming back from a 21-point deficit to stun the Highlanders 30-27 at Forsyth Barr Stadium must sting.