Highlanders v Crusaders - Super Rugby match preview
Last Updated: 29/06/13 8:39am
Rock-bottom Highlanders host wildcard contenders Crusaders in Dunedin on Saturday looking to post their first back-to-back wins of the campaign.
A run of not winning their first eight games before their 25-22 victory over the Sharks in May left the Highlanders firmly in the mire.
But Jamie Joseph's side picked up their second win - 38-28 - against the Blues last time and will be looking to double up against the Crusaders in a game being shown live on Sky Sports Xtra and Sky Sports 2 - Red Button at 08.35 BST.
In a notable milestone, Hosea Gear will play his 100th Super Rugby game against the Crusaders.
The visitors are currently second in the New Zealand Conference and are still in contention for a wildcard spot after posting eight wins and five losses so far this campaign.
The biggest surprise of Todd Blackadder's selection is the omission of first-choice number eight Kieran Read from the starting line-up following his stint leading the All Blacks.
Read has been named amongst the replacements alongside fellow internationals Wyatt Crockett, Luke Romano and Corey Flynn, while there is also no place in the matchday squad for All Blacks tighthead prop Owen Franks.
Locks Tom Donnelly and Sam Whitelock make up the second row while the backs have a more familiar look with Tom Taylor moving to inside centre and Ryan Crotty wearing the number 13 jersey. Robbie Fruean is also included on the bench.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Fumaki Tanaka, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 Elliot Dixon, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Jake Paringatai, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Liam Sopoaga, 22 Ma'a Nonu.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (c), 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Robbie Fruean, 22 Adam Whitelock.
Super Rugby 2013 Round 18
The Bulls all but wrapped up the SA conference after completing a clinical 48-18 victory over the Southern Kings.
A last-gasp try from Riaan Viljoen saw the Sharks beat the Blues 22-20 and dent their visitors' play-off hopes.
South African conference leaders the Bulls take on the struggling Southern Kings in the Super XV on Saturday.