Vengeance will be up for grabs when the 2014 Waratahs line up in Christchurch to take on the 2008 Crusaders in Game 3 of the Greatest Super Rugby Team tournament.
Robbie Deans’ Crusaders finished the 2008 season with a 13-2 record, sweeping the SA teams aside in a 55-7 win over the Cheetahs, a 54-19 clobbering of the Bulls at Loftus and blanking the Stormers 22-0 in Cape Town.
The Crusaders had an arsenal of weapons, highlighted by the fact that they led the competition for points scored without having a player crack the top six try-scorers, while Dan Carter ranked third among individual point-scorers, behind Stephen Donald and Nick Evans.
Carter kicked four penalties and a drop goal in the 2008 final as the Crusaders powered to a 20-12 victory over the Waratahs at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch. Relevant to this interactive matchup, it was the Crusaders who were slain by the 2014 Waratahs in that season’s finale.
The legendary All Blacks pivot was at inside centre in the 2014 final when Wallabies and Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley kicked the last-minute penalty, awarded by SA ref Craig Joubert, to clinch a nail-biting 33-32 win for the Sydneysiders at Stadium Australia.
Michael Cheika’s 2014 Waratahs featured Israel Folau at his best. Twelve tries from the dynamic Wallabies fullback jointly led the competition (with gigantic Saders wing Nemani Nadolo). However, the Waratahs’ success was actually built on defence as the likes of Michael Hooper, Totafu Polota-Nau and former Bulls flanker Jacques Potgieter teamed up to allow the fewest points that season.
The 2008 Crusaders will be eager to avenge the defeat of their successors. The 2014 Waratahs will be equally determined to get one back for their predecessors. But only one of these teams can join the 1996 Sharks and 2010 Stormers in the next round. The decision is in your hands!
Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuilai’I, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Kieran Read, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ti’I Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Reuben Thorne, 19 Nasi Manu, 20 Kahn Fotuali’I, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Sean Maitland.
Coach: Robbie Deans.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, ,8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Stephen Hoiles, 5 Jacques Potgieter, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Pat McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibban, 23 Peter Betham.
Coach: Michael Cheika.