Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock set to return for Crusaders

All Blacks Barrett and Whitelock have both been named to return this week, and will pack down alongside each other in the second row.

Barrett will captain the side in his first Super Rugby Pacific appearance since the win over the Reds in Brisbane last month, while Whitelock returns to competitive rugby following a lengthy stint on the sidelines.

Whitelock injured his hand during the thrilling 34-28 win over the Blues at Eden Park in round three, but has been included as one of seven changes to the starting XV.

Crusaders to spend spare time studying 'frontrunners' Chiefs

The Crusaders are back in action this Friday after a bye and shaky win over Moana Pasifika the prior week - a game assistant coach James Marshall conceded has been like their season to date.

"I thought we sort of scraped through it really, we didn't hit out straps," Marshall said of the first half the season.

"I thought maybe the Blues [a tight 34-28 win] was our best game of the year so far but other than that I thought a lot was pretty messy.

Moana Pasifika come close to spoiling Mounga’s party

With an early penalty by Mounga and a try to hooker Codie Taylor, the home team looked to be cruising. However, Moana found their way back into the game with in-form centre Levi Aumua crossing for two tries, giving them a 14-10 lead. 

Tagata Pasifika reports Taylor secured another try for the Crusaders pushing out their lead to 17-14. 

But it didn’t last long for the home team, as Timoci Tamatamanawai scored in the corner just before half time, edging the visitors ahead. The try was converted by Lincoln McClutchie, giving Moana a 21-17 lead at the break. 

Crusaders beat spirited Moana Pasifika after trailing at half-time

The All Blacks first-five Richie Mo'unga played a big hand in his 100th match for the Crusaders by converting all five of his side's tries and nailing a penalty.

Moana Pasifika scored three tries to the Crusaders two in the first half to take a 21-17 lead at half time.

Codie Taylor crossed the line twice for the home side, while Levi Aumua also scored a double in the first 40 minutes for Moana Pasifika.

Fainga'anuku leads Crusaders to bonus point win over Brumbies

The blockbusting wing scored a hat-trick against the Blues at Eden Park last night and his double for the defending champions – both from attacking lineouts where his power and pace combined to make him virtually unstoppable – was crucial.

The margin for this five tries to two bonus point victory was clear-cut but it wasn’t as straightforward as the Crusaders would have liked.

Both teams were missing a host of players – the Crusaders’ latest casualties were Sam Whitelock, Sevu Reece and lock Zach Gallagher, the latter replaced on the eve of the match by Dominic Gardiner.

Whitelock, Reece injuries bring Razor back down to earth at Crusaders

Whitelock’s injury, suffered in the Crusaders’ thrilling 34-28 victory over the Blues at Eden Park at the weekend, will rule him out for several weeks, starting with his side’s home match against the unbeaten Brumbies on Friday night.

Reece limped from the Eden Park pitch with what was initially thought to be an ankle problem but has now been confirmed as a potentially long-term knee injury.

Crusaders show style of old to beat Blues in Super thriller

That was the last time the Blues won the championship – 20 long years ago – but this match, won by the Crusaders 34-28, was a throwback to those times when this competition really meant something.

This, the Blues' first home game of the season, was ill-tempered, intense and highly relevant to the hopes of both teams.

In an extraordinary twist as the minutes ticked down, Blues’ lock James Tucker and No.8 Hoskins Sotutu were over for tries awarded by referee James Coleman but replays showed both lost the ball in the act of scoring.

We can't blame the weather: Crusaders Sevu Reece

The All Blacks rep said the Drua deserved the win and he expects to see more from the Fijian club.

 “It’s unfair to blame the weather, the Drua showed up to play and they played their hearts out,” Reece said after the game.

 “It’s great to see a team like the Drua in the competition, freshens the game and definitely look forward to seeing more.”

 Reece added playing in front of his countrymen and a jam-packed crowd never disappointed, and he was thankful to the supporters for supporting the game.

Super Rugby power rankings: How Fijian Drua humbled the champs

Fijian Drua

Beat Crusaders 25-24. Record: 2-1. Last ranking: 9. Table position: 5.


A landmark win over Crusaders for the new boys

The Crusaders found that out the hard way on an absolute sweaty armpit of a day in Lautoka during this weekend's round of Super Rugby Pacific, losing on the last kick of a game they really had no right to win anyway.

This weekend has seen some very good rugby, but it belongs to the Drua. They've delivered on their promise to play an up-tempo style throughout their time in Super Rugby so far and nearly pulled off a couple of upsets last season.