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    Crusaders target fast start against Lions

    2019-04-25 21:19

    Cape Town - The Crusaders are eyeing a fast start in their Super Rugby encounter against the Lions in Christchurch on Friday.

    The defending champions scored just seven first half points in their past two games - at home against the Brumbies and Highlanders - but managed to run out comfortable winners after stunning second half displays.

    The Crusaders trailed 7-0 at half-time against the Brumbies before running out 36-14 victors, while they trailed 10-7 at the break against the Highlanders before winning 43-17.

    According to the Stuff.co.nz website, the slow starts have been addressed, and it comes with a warning for the Lions ahead of Friday's rematch of last year's final in Christchurch.

    "Obviously, we can't always rely on the back end of our game. We'll definitely look to fix that this week, start with a roar and finish with one, too," Crusaders centre Braydon Ennor said.

    Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said the reasons for scoring 72 points in the second half of their most recent wins, yet only managing a lone try against the Highlanders in the first half, could not be pinned on one factor.

    "We've had a couple of desperate teams we've played against, obviously the Brumbies and the Highlanders were incredibly physical and we couldn't get the ball back off them," Robertson said.

    "Really... a little bit about our discipline and our ability tactically and how could we hold the ball, and if they do hold the ball for a long time, how could we get it back off them?

    "Is it a mindset thing, or is it a structural thing? We've covered both."

    The Crusaders are hunting their 25th straight win on home soil, one short of their record of 26 between 2004 and 2007.

    The Lions, on the other hand, have a torrid record against the Crusaders, with only three wins in history and all of those coming at Ellis Park - 55-23 in 1996, 9-3 in 2007 and 42-25 in 2016.

    The Cats, who were a combination of the Lions and Cheetahs, did beat the Crusaders 32-31 in Nelson in 2001.

    Friday's clash is scheduled for 09:35 (SA time).

    Teams:

    Crusaders

    15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

    Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Michael Dunshea, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Eretara Enarai, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Ngane Punivai

    Lions

    15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Elton Jantjies, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Kwagga Smith (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Sti Sithole

    Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan Mcbeth, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Franco Naude, 23 Tyrone Green

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    Friday, 24 May 2019
    • Chiefs v Reds, FMG Stadium Waikato 09:35
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    Saturday, 25 May 2019
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    • Crusaders v Blues, AMI Stadium 09:35
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