Reds face Crusaders in Super Rugby test - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds face Crusaders in Super Rugby test

Robert Smith 26/05/2011 12:37:02 PM Comments (0)

The Queensland Reds face a major test of their Super Rugby title credentials with a showdown against seven-time champions the Crusaders in Brisbane on Sunday.

The table-topping Reds, regenerated under the coaching of former Wallaby prop Ewen McKenzie, have yet to win the championship, while the Christchurch-based Crusaders are regarded as the competition's standard bearers.

Queensland, inspired by Wallaby halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper, have only lost twice this season and are unbeaten in their past 10 matches at home, with their last defeat in Brisbane coming against the Blues in February last year.

The Reds conquered the Crusaders 41-20 in Brisbane last season, but the New Zealanders - led by All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter - are third in the overall standings and victory will step up their bid for title number eight.

"The Crusaders have proven that they are the standard bearers," Reds' skipper James Horwill said.

"It's always a big test. They've been the stand-out forward pack as an eight, probably all year, and we've got to make sure across the board, not only in the set piece, we get it right so we can give the backs clean ball."

Horwill said the Reds were braced for their toughest match of the season.

"I don't think there's ever a good time to play the Crusaders," he said.

The Crusaders were buoyed by this week's re-signing of inspirational All Blacks captain McCaw to a four-year contract extension with the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Openside flanker McCaw, 30, is capped 94 times for the All Blacks, he is a three-time International Rugby Board player of the year and is running into full fitness after missing a large chunk of the Super Rugby season.

The Reds will also have to find a way of keeping damaging inside centre Sonny Bill Williams in check, but he first must pass a fitness test on an injured knee.

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