Crusaders v Force
AMI Park, Christchurch, Saturday 5.30pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Round 11 2011 - Crusaders 42 bt Force 30 at nib Stadium
Head-to-head: Played 6 Crusaders 3 Force 1 drawn 2
In Christchurch: Played 2 Crusaders 1 Force 0 drawn 1
Referee: Glen Jackson (NZL)
TV: Live, FoxSports 3
TAB Sportsbet: Crusaders $1.01 Force $13.00
Greg Growden writes: Give the Crusaders the five points now. The Force's effort last weekend was spineless, and not surprising as their lineup looks dreadful. When they lose key players, they are cardboard cutouts.
AAP writes: Force pioneer Nathan Sharpe has recovered from a back injury to earn a deserved Super Rugby farewell. It will be his 162nd match, a competition record, but there’s little hope the visitors can send him out a victor. The Crusaders need to win to ensure a finals berth, and a first-week knockout game at home. They’re without All Black No.8 Kieran Read (ribs) and have put lock Sam Whitelock and centre Robbie Fruean on the bench but shape up as competition favourites. The Force, again missing skipper David Pocock, have a completely new midfield combination with Rory Sidey and Pat Dellit.
CRUSADERS: Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Adam Whitelock, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Richie McCaw (c), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Tom Donnelly, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Wyatt Crockett, Samuel Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tom Taylor, Robbie Fruean.
FORCE: Alfie Mafi, Nick Cummins, Patrick Dellit, Rory Sidey, Napolioni Nalaga, Ben Seymour, Brett Sheehan, Lachlan McCaffrey, Angus Cottrell, Richard Brown, Nathan Sharpe (c), Toby Lynn, Salesi Manu, Nathan Charles, Tetera Faulkner. Reserves: Ben Whittaker, Ruan Smith, Pek Cowan, Ollie Atkins, Josh Holmes, Kyle Godwin, Will Tupou.