Crusaders cruise after Savea sin bin costs Hurricanes

The match had been moved from Saturday in the hope coronavirus restrictions would be lifted to allow a crowd for the reigning champions' first home match of the season.

Fans saw a game that pivoted on Ardie Savea's first half yellow card, with the Crusaders scoring three converted tries to take a commanding lead while the forward was off the field.

Scott Robertson's team notched up the win after opening their campaign with victory over the Highlanders in last week's first round.

Coles still out for Hurricanes, 10 All Blacks in Crusaders XV

Coles is battling a niggly calf injury which kept him out of game one.

New All Black Peter Umaga-Jensen, who came off the bench in the loss to the Blues in Wellington last weekend, will start at centre this week and is the only change head coach, Jason Holland, has made to the backs.

In the forwards Isaia Walker-Leawere takes over from the injured Scott Scrafton at starting lock, Reed Prinsep replaces Vaea Fifita at blindside and Du'Plessis Kirifi starts ahead of Devon Flanders in the loose forwards.

Kirifi is at openside with captain Ardie Savea shifting to No.8.

'I have a few tricks': New meets old as Sevu Reece prepares for showdown with former All Black

In fact, Reece featured in just a solitary match – New Zealand’s loss to Australia in Brisbane.

Instead, new coach Ian Foster favoured utility back Jordie Barrett on the right wing, while the likes of George Bridge, Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane were given chances on the left.

That’s despite Reece playing a key role in the Crusaders securing a fourth title on the trot, featuring in all seven of their matches and finishing the season as the competition’s second-equal top try scorer.

Some things never change, the Crusaders are favourites

The Crusaders are again favourites to win a Super Rugby title.

The second edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off this weekend with the Highlanders hosting the Crusaders and the Hurricanes hosting the Blues, the Chiefs have the bye.

Scott Robertson's team won six of their eight games in 2020 to win the inaugural local competition to add to the three straight Super Rugby titles they won from 2017 to 2019.

Heading into his fifth season with the franchise, Robertson is confident complcency won't be an issue and says his desire for success hasn't waned.

Crusaders' name dual All Blacks captains in final pre-season hit-out

The game of three halves will kick off from midday at Hautapu Sports in Cambridge.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has confirmed the side’s All Blacks will return for 40 minutes of game time on Saturday, ahead of their opening match of the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa competition next weekend against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The Crusaders will play the Chiefs in the first half, and regular Captain Scott Barrett returns to lead the side, while Codie Taylor will Captain the second-half side against the Blues.

Super Rugby Aotearoa to extend if trans-tasman comp falls over

The tournament, in which the five New Zealand and Australian teams play cross over games in both countries, is scheduled to start in May.

However the competition is under threat due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, with a trans-tasman bubble needed to make the schedule work.

Currently anyone entering New Zealand or returning from overseas must quarantine for two weeks.

That would make the current Super Rugby Trans-Tasman schedule, which has the Chiefs playing in Perth on the opening round before returning to Hamilton for a home game the following week, unworkable.

Blues-Crusaders off again

The match was scheduled to be played on Saturday as part of the "Blues Footy Fest" event at Eden Park.

Blues CEO Andrew Hore says their priority is the safety and wellbeing of their players, staff and fans.

"We completely understand the situation and we support the directive from the New Zealand Government to reduce risk of any exposure and spread of this virus," Hore said.

"We all need to do our part to protect any spread of Covid-19 and at the current Level-3 Alert means we are unable to proceed with the game."

Crusaders defeat Highlanders in Super Rugby pre-season match

Winger Timoci Tavatavanawai scored two tries for the Crusaders, while prop Fletcher Newell and flanker Sione Havili also crossed for the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions.

Brett Cameron converted all four tries to secure the come-from-behind win.

Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman (2) and wingers Jona Nareki and Ngane Punivai scored the Highlanders tries.

The dramatic win may come at a cost for the Crusaders, who lost tighthead prop Oli Jager to a potentially serious foot injury.


Crusaders hooker Andrew Makalio out for Super Rugby season with neck injury

Makalio injured his neck following a collision while playing for Tasman towards the end of the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup.

Subsequent investigations and specialist opinions have determined that surgery is required to manage this.

The surgical date has yet to be set, but the Crusaders have confirmed that Makalio will be out for the Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competitions. His return to play process will become clearer following surgery.

All Black midfielder out for nine months

Scans have confirmed that Ennor ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the North v South match in Wellington at the weekend.

Ennor, 23, who was named in the All Blacks squad on Sunday, will now see a specialist over the next few days, is expected to undergo surgery and be out of rugby for up to nine months.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: "It's hugely disappointing for Braydon, but he is a strong young man and we'll be supporting him as he goes through his surgery and rehab over the next few months."