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Super Rugby: Brumbies to end run of losses to Crus

Crusaders ended last season as Super Rugby Pacific champions, but their title defence has turned into something of a shambles and a trip to the Brumbies could well end in yet another defeat.

Crus have lost nine of the 11 games they have played so far this term to lie one from bottom in the standings, however, their last three matches have seen them nil the Rebels and lose narrowly to the Reds and Highlanders.

The Brumbies, meanwhile, have won their last three and eight of their last nine and also have a perfect record of five out of five on home turf so far this season.

. What: Brumbies v Crusaders
. Where: GIO Stadium, Canberra
. When: 14:35, Saturday 18th May 2024
. How to watch: Stan Sports
. Odds: Brumbies 1.40, Crusaders 3.10

Brumbies ready to end Crus run

The visitors have won their last 12 meetings with the Brumbies, but head coach Stephen Larkham will be very confident of finally getting a win on the board against the Christchurch outfit.

Not only have the Brumbies won all five of their home games this season, but their winning run as hosts actually stretches to seven victories overall when you factor in last season.

However, Larkham is taking nothing for granted, having seen his side struggle to put away the rock-bottom Waratahs last time out, with the Brumbies eventually running out 29-21 winners.

He told the media: "When you look at their games throughout the year, they’ve been close in a number of their games and they’re actually playing really good rugby."

Larkham has opted to recall James Slipper in the front row, while Cadeyrn Neville starts in the second row, allowing Nick Forst to move to the back row alongside Rob Valentini and Jahrome Brown.

Noah Lolesio returns in the halves to partner Ryan Lonergan, with the centre partnership of Tamati Tua and Len Ikitau kept together after impressing in recent weeks.

That leaves the back three of Ollie Sapsford, Andy Muirhead and Tom Wright aiming to punch holes in the Crus defence, with marauding fullback Wright a 2.50 shot to score a try at anytime.

Crus look for Reece inspiration

Crusaders head coach Rob Penney has been told that his job is safe despite such a disappointing season for the reigning Super Rugby champions.

His side looked to have got back on track a little when they thumped the Rebels 39-0 in Christchurch late last month, but May has brought a 33-28 home reverse at the hands of the Reds and a 32-29 loss at the Highlanders last time out.

Crus will be without the All Black trio of Tamaiti Williams, Scott Barrett and Ethan Blackadder, but they have been handed a major boost with the news that Fergus Burke is fit to feature for the first time this season.

He will start alongside Noah Hotham in the halves after finally recovering from an Achilles injury, allowing David Havili to move to the centres and partner Jone Rova.

Outside, the most obvious threat to the Brumbies is winger Sevu Reece, who leads the tournament statistics with 11 tries scored already, while he has also recorded 10 clean breaks.

Reece has crossed in each of his last five appearances, scoring seven tries in total, while he has also scored three tries in his three previous outings against the Brumbies.

The All Black flyer is 1.95 to score a try at anytime at GIO Stadium, while he is 6.00 to score two or more tries against the Brumbies.

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