Crusaders-Blues blockbuster carries feeling of old

first_imgRugby Union You can sense the tension and anticipation in the air at the Crusaders’ Rugby Park base in Christchurch. It’s been an age since a Crusaders-Blues match has produced such a feeling, but Saturday night’s battle of the unbeatens in the Garden City has brought back feelings of old. ‘’It feels like that [the old days],’’ Crusaders assistant coach Scott Hansen said. Forget the fact the Blues haven’t beaten their arch rivals since 2014, and that it’s been 16 years since they tipped over the Crusaders in Christchurch. The Crusaders owning the Blues 24-11 in the head-to-head stakes can also be cast aside, because the red and blacks know full well it means nothing. That comes with the Blues’ resurgence under former Crusader Leon MacDonald, who is finally getting consistency in his second year in charge of the Auckland-based team. Including the pre Covid competition, they’ve won seven games on the bounce, with Super Rugby Aotearoa wins against the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders behind them in recent weeks. “There is a huge amount of respect for the Blues. They are a team with a lot of cohesion at the moment, awesome synergy in their game with attack and their defence,’’ Hansen said. ‘’They’re a big, physical team that are looking for big collisions. They have got a mindset around working teams into the ground. Our boys will need to be up for it, but they will.’’ It’s too early to label the match a competition decider, but the Crusaders, who beat the Blues 25-11 at Eden Park in February, have an opportunity to land a huge blow. Nabbing bonus points against the Highlanders and Hurricanes puts them in a position to pull as many as seven points clear at the top of the table heading into next week’s bye. On the other hand, should the Blues hand the Crusaders their first loss on home soil in almost four years, it could only result in a one-point lead on the ladder. ‘’It’s good for New Zealand Rugby, isn’t it? You’ve got teams that are competing, you’ve got players that are playing at the top-level, it’s awesome for NZ Rugby, it’s going to be a hell of a collision this weekend around mindset and intensity. Two teams undefeated, going for it,’’ Hansen said. Outside of the Crusaders’ 54-17 pasting of the Blues in Christchurch two years ago, the success-starved Blues have pushed the 10-times champions in recent years. They lost 19-11 at Orangetheory Stadium last season, and finished between two and nine points off the pace on four other occasions since 2016. “It’s been building,’’ Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall said. He’s been on both sides of the rivalry, having played for the Blues between 2013-2016, before joining the Crusaders and winning titles each of the past three years. Hall was rested last weekend, and took the opportunity to return home to Auckland for the first time since lockdown, visiting family and friends while the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 40-20 in Dunedin Recharged and ready to tackle a team which still includes many of his friends, Hall doesn’t think their improvement comes down to rocket science. – stufflast_img read more

Faurlin agrees move to Getafe

first_imgAlejandro Faurlin has signed for Spanish second-tier side Getafe. The Argentine midfielder, a popular player during an eventful seven-year spell at QPR, was released by the club earlier this summer when his contract expired.West London Sport had earlier revealed that Faurlin, 29, and Clint Hill had been told they were not in manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s plans.Faurlín nuevo jugador del Getafe— Getafe C.F. (@GetafeCF) August 8, 2016 Faurlin, who bounced back from three cruciate ligament injuries in as many years, lives in Chiswick and hoped to stay in the west London area. He recently had a trial at Fulham.He played a key role in QPR’s promotion to the Premier League in 2011 – a triumph that was confirmed only after the club escaped a points deduction for breaching regulations in the deal to sign him from Argentinean outfit Instituto two years earlier. Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more