Brumbies to target Crusaders five-eighth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brumbies to target Crusaders five-eighth

By Karlis Salna 18/02/2009 07:06:08 PM Comments (0)

The Brumbies will look to ramp up the pressure on young Crusaders five-eighth Colin Slade when he plays his first Super 14 game away from home on Saturday night.

The match will be the Brumbies' first home game of the 2009 season and promises to be a good test for both sides after close wins in the last week's opening round.

The Brumbies escaped with a late drop goal to down the Highlanders 33-31 on Friday, but this Saturday's clash with the 2008 champions looms as much tougher.

The Crusaders got away with a 19-13 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch with Slade doing enough to secure another start on Saturday night.

The 21-year-old came to prominence last year when he was instrumental in the Crusaders' charge to another national championship title victory, but was expected to be headed at No.10 by Stephen Brett who has 25 Super appearances to his name.

Slade has pedigree, having come from a long line of Crusaders five-eighths to come out of the prolific breeding ground that is Christchurch Boys' High, including the likes of All Blacks Dan Carter and Andrew Mehrtens.

And to Brumbies playmaker Christian Lealiifano, he is somewhat of an old foe, with the pair having met in the 2006 under 19s World Cup.

"He's a quality player, he's obviously quality to get the nod over Stephen Brett," Lealiifano said on Monday.

Lealiifano said the Brumbies have done their homework on Slade, adding that he'll get plenty of attention on Saturday.

"He kicks a fair bit, so we're looking to put a lot of pressure on him," he said.

He won't be the only concern for the Brumbies on Saturday, with the seven times Super champions boasting the likes of loose forward supremo Richie McCaw, and a formidable centre pairing in Casey Laulala and Tim Bateman.

Brumbies coach Andy Friend will persist with his centre pairing of Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper, a combination that paid dividends last week, setting up an intriguing midfield battle.

Mortlock and Ashley-Cooper scored three tries between them last week, with Mortlock setting up fullback Mark Gerrard for another, and spearheading a Brumbies comeback from an early 19-0 deficit.

However, Friend knows the Crusaders will not be as forgiving.

"There were a number of pleasing aspects to come out of last Friday's game but in such a short competition we need to be improving each week," he said.

"We know that the Crusaders are a quality outfit. They are an extremely patient side that will wait for their opposition to make a mistake and capitalise on it whether that be in the 10th minute or the 80th."

Friend named an extended nine-man bench, adding lock Shawn Mackay and flanker Mitchell Chapman, with two to be omitted.

Winger Clyde Rathbone kept his place in the starting XV after being cleared of any serious damage to his cheekbone following a head clash against the Highlanders.

Brumbies: Mark Gerrard, Clyde Rathbone, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Stirling Mortlock, Francis Fainifo, Christian Lealiifano, Patrick Phibbs, Stephen Hoiles (capt), George Smith, Julian Salvi, Mark Chisholm, Ben Hand, Guy Shepherdson, Stephen Moore, Nic Henderson. Res: John Ulugia, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, Peter Kimlin, Josh Holmes, Tyrone Smith, Matt Toomua, Shawn Mackay, Mitchell Chapman (two to be omitted).

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