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Super Rugby: Misfiring pair face a must-win in Sydney

Two sides who have made dismal starts to the new Super Rugby Pacific season meet on Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Friday evening, as the Waratahs play host to Crusaders.

Both teams have picked up just one victory to date, with only Western Force having a similarly poor record, meaning that there will be plenty on the line in this showdown.

The situation is particularly shocking for Crus, who are the defending Super Rugby champions and who have won five titles in the last five completed seasons - with regional tournaments having taken place in 2021 and the 2020 campaign having been cancelled.

The Tahs’ only success came back in 2014, when they edged Crusaders 33-32 in an absolute thriller at Stadium Australia thanks to a late penalty from Bernard Foley.

. What: Waratahs v Crusaders
. Where: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
. When: 20:35, Friday 12th April 2024
. How to watch: Stan Sport
. Odds: Waratahs 4.00, Crusaders 1.25

Home comforts not working for Tahs

The Waratahs’ sole victory in seven games came when they defeated Crus 37-24 at AAMI Park in Round 2, with their other six fixtures ending in defeat, including four losses on home turf.

Last time out they were overwhelmed 40-16 by the ACT Brumbies, with the heavy loss compounded by a foot injury to Wallabies prop Angus Bell just 17 minutes in.

NSW coach Darren Coleman fears that Bell has aggravated an old injury and may be forced to miss the rest of the season, telling reporters: "It doesn't look good, it looks like the same toe injury he suffered in round one last year."

Coleman will definitely have to plan for this showdown without Bell, who had only recently returned to action after a back problem, with even more responsibility heaped on the likes of Charlie Gamble and Tom Ross.

Injuries clearing up for Crus

Crusaders may only have one win this season, but it came in their last outing before they enjoyed a bye week, as they defeated the Chiefs 37-26 - having scored just 26 points across their previous three games.

Johnny McNicholl was the hero of the hour against the Chiefs in scoring two tries, with the veteran ack having only recently returned to Crus after a lengthy spell in Wales with Scarlets.

The visitors could be boosted for this trip by the returns of as many as three key players, with outside-half Fergus Burke recovering from an Achilles problem, while Brodie McAlister (knee) and Ethan Blackadder (calf) also close to rejoining the squad.

Burke will be eager to finish up with Crus on a high note, having agreed a long-term deal to join English powerhouses Saracens at the ed of the season.

Scott Barrett, Tamaiti Williams and Leigh Halfpenny remain sidelined, but are expected to be back in the mix in the near future.

Having lost by 13 points to the Waratahs in Round 2, Crus are 2.70 to win by a margin of 1.12 points this time around.

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