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Super Rugby: Rebels have wounded Crusaders in their sights

From becoming champions last season to being rock bottom of the ladder after eight rounds of Super Rugby Pacific 2024, the fall of the Crusaders has been startling.

The Crusaders were condemned to bottom spot on the standings after a shock 37-15 defeat at the hands of the Western Force in Perth last weekend.

Friday night provides an opportunity to get back to winning ways but nothing in this competition is guaranteed as the improving Melbourne Rebels head to Christchurch.

. What: Crusaders v Rebels
. Where: Apollo Projects Stadium, Christchurch
. When: 17:05 (AEST), Friday 26th April 2024
. How to watch: Stan Sport
. Odds: Crusaders 1.25, Rebels 4.00

Crusaders in disarray

The Crusaders seem unrecognisable from the side that finished last season so strongly to defeat the Chiefs in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific grand final.

With just one win in their opening eight games this year, pressure is starting to mount on head coach Rob Penney and his players to turn things around.

The Crusaders do have an impressive record against Friday’s opponents, having won nine of their last 10 encounters with the Rebels.

With that in mind, it’s little wonder the hosts are the 1.25 favourites going into this game, having also averaged 55 points per game in their last seven settings with the Rebels.

Rebels on a run

After a 54-28 defeat at the hands of the Hurricanes, the Rebels responded superbly, with three straight wins over the Waratahs, Fijian Drua and most recently the Highlanders.

Winning 47-31 against the Highlanders in a shootout at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, the Rebels have come a long way from the side that were expected to have another tough season ahead of them.

Friday offers a good acid test to see how far the Rebels have come, with the Crusaders having a strong record on their own patch.

The Christchurch outfit have won eight of their last nine games at Apollo Projects Stadium and the Rebels will be heading there with no illusions on the challenge that awaits them.

Kevin Foote’s side are the 4.00 underdogs to inflict more woes on the Crusaders and head back across The Tasman with the victory.

Looking to the Line market for this one, the Rebels are available at 1.91 with a -10.5 handicap.

Some big questions will be partly answered come the full-time whistle on Friday night.

Are the Crusaders as bad as their table position suggests and are the Rebels becoming a serious force to be reckoned with in Super Rugby Pacific?

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