Skipper Returns To Lead Crusade Against Reds

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Dan Carter is one of 13 All Blacks in the Crusaders side. Image courtesy of
The Crusaders  host the Reds  in the first match of the 2013 Super Rugby finals series on Saturday, with the loser eliminated from this year’s competition. Both sides go into the clash with momentum having won their final game of the regular season last week and welcome big name players back into the ranks for this do-or-die showdown.

Canterbury skipper Richie McCaw will play his first Super Rugby match of the season at AMI Stadium, making his reappearance off the bench after missing the first half of the year while on a six month sabbatical. All Black lock Luke Romano returns from an ankle injury and will go head-to-head with James Horwill, who is returning from injury himself.

Horwill and halfback Will Genia both sat out last Saturday’s hard fought 14-12 victory over the Waratahs that secured fifth spot on the table but are fully fit and raring to go. Boss Ewen McKenzie has had to make several changes to his backline, with Jono Lance, Dom Shipperley and Chris Feauai-Sautia recalled in place of Rod Davies (knee), Mike Harris and Luke Morahan.

Playing this match at home is a huge for the Crusaders, who have won 15 of their 16 fixtures in Christchurch since AMI Stadium was renovated following the 2011 earthquake. Both home wins over Australian opposition this season have been by narrow margins  however, with the hosts scraping past the Waratahs by a point in May and the Rebels by just four a month earlier. The last meeting between these sides took place in May last year with the Crusaders winning here 15-11, while the previous encounter was in the 2011 decider, which the Reds won 18-13.

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