Watch Super Rugby Highlanders vs Crusaders Live Streaming 2017 Online Rugby Union , at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, Saturday 04 March 2017, Time 17:35 (AEDT). Free Highlanders vs Crusaders super rugby 2017 all match live stream online on your pc/laptop.2017 Super Rugby Broadcast On coverage on Fox Sports,Sky Sports, SuperSport, DIRECTV, BSkyB, Setanta Sports.
The 2015 champions were far off their usually excellent pace in that home defeat to the Chiefs last weekend, putting them on the back foot right at the start of what is expected to be another tightly contested New Zealand Conference.
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Finding their feet against the Crusaders is therefore imperative but the Highlanders will have to do that without their talisman, the All Blacks full-back Ben Smith who is sidelined with a concussion.
So often the player who has led the Highlanders from the front, Smith’s mantle now passes to the likes of new captain Elliot Dixon and the rest of the Highlanders senior players, especially the half-backs Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga.
Looking back on the number of chances wasted by the Highlanders against the Chiefs, that insufficent level of execution is unlikely to be repeated. New head coach Tony Brown will be hoping that early rust has been scrubbed off in training this week.
As for the Crusaders their new era under Scott Robertson started with a hard-fought win, as the Brumbies visited Christchurch and put up more of a fight than expected.
Kieran Read remains absent but the major casualty this week and for the next two months is Richie Mo’unga, the young fly-half who was one of the breakout stars of last season and who is now recovering from hand surgery.
Mitchell Hunt has been handed the chance to replace Mo’unga this week, with Marty McKenzie waiting in reserve, but Robertson is bound to be frustrated at having lost his number one fly-half after the first week, putting a pause on Mo’unga’s half-back partnership with Bryn Hall in the process.
Despite that setback, young guns in Jack Goodhue and Whetu Douglas caught the eye last weekend and Israel Dagg’s move out to the wing allows David Havili to return and consequently to add more experience to a dangerous backline.
Even without Read and Mo’unga, the Crusaders will fancy their chances against a Smith-less Highlanders. There is honestly very little to separate the two teams.
Highlanders: 15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon (c), 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Adrian Smith, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Patrick Osborne
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 George Bridge