As it happened: Waratahs score 24 unanswered points in second half to knock out Highlanders in insane comeback

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of tonight's Super Rugby quarter-final between the Waratahs and Highlanders at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

FT: WAR 30-23 HIG

The Highlanders season is over after the Waratahs score 24 unanswered points in the second half. What a game. Highlanders dominated the first half but when the Waratahs got their chance with Naholo in the bin, they pounced and left the Highlanders speechless. No doubt Naholo will feel the guilt for this loss but when his team had a chance late, his teammates didn't deliver either. That one is going to hurt for a long time. That's all from us folks. Po marie.

79min: WAR 30-23 HIG

ANOTHER ERROR! Aaron Smith fires a ball to Ben Smith on the right wing and Smith drops it cold. That may do it. Waratahs scrum on halfway.

78min: WAR 30-23 HIG

Foley clears. Highlanders lineout 30m out.

77min: WAR 30-23 HIG

Sopoaga attacks the line off the scrum but he goes to ground. Aaron Smith comes through looking to score but he knocks it on 2m short! What a moment in the game. Waratahs scrum 5m from their line.

75min: WAR 30-23 HIG

Beale goes for an intercept and he's got it in his hands but as he goes to ground he knocks it on. Another Highlanders scrum. Middle of the field 10m out. Stuff Hollywood stories are made of.

73min: WAR 30-23 HIG

WAR YELLOW! MASSIVE MOMENT! The TMO replays have showed the Waratahs playing at the ball in an offside position illegally close to the line so it's a yellow card. Highlanders take a 5m scrum with the penalty.

73min: WAR 30-23 HIG

HIG NO TRY! Highlanders are 5m out after 12 phases of play before the ball comes to Frizell and he smashes at the line. It's unclear if he got there. Looks like he's short. TMO confirms it.

70min: WAR 30-23 HIG

WAR THREE! Waratahs get into the Highlanders 22m through the middle of the field and nine phases of play before an offside penalty lets them push the lead to seven. It's right in front, 18m out. Foley gets it with ease.

65min: WAR 27-23 HIG

Highlanders work the ball for 20 phases inside the Waratahs 22m but they won't budge. And finally there's a penalty as the Highlanders get caught not releasing! Waratahs are a different team this second half. Clearing kick gives the Waratahs a lineout near halfway.

62min: WAR 27-23 HIG

WAR TRY! The Waratahs are back in front after another linebreak by Folau. He steps off the left to get into the backfield and links with Phipps on the Highlanders' 22m. Phipps finds support in Foley and the Tahs first-five gets his second. What a turn of events.

59min: WAR 20-23 HIG

Highlanders have the ball on halfway and use the forwards to chew up time on Naholo's sin bin. But Lentjes gets too close to the sideline and he's bundled into touch. Waratahs lineout just inside their half.

57min: WAR 20-23 HIG

WAR TRY! The Tahs are back and who else but Beale and Folau to get them there. Beale makes a linebreak on halfway and gets into the depleted backfield with Folau in support. He draws in Li and passes to the fullback who scores in the left corner.

54min: WAR 13-23 HIG

WAR TRY! Waratahs are in with Foley under the posts. Used quick ball and Beale pops a short ball inside to his first five he dives in to score. 

51min: WAR 6-23 HIG

HIG YELLOW! Naholo is sent to the bin after the Waratahs make a clean break down the right wing with an intercept on their tryline. Waratahs get into the Highlanders' 22m and Naholo flies in with a high hit. No doubt he has to go. Waratahs kick for touch with the penalty and get a 5m lineout. Big 10 minutes coming up.

49min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Waratahs overthrow the lineout and the Highlanders turn it into territory with an immediate kick into the Waratahs' 22m. Waratahs get back to recover but the clearing box kick goes straight into the back of one of the forwards standing off the ruck. That's an accidental offside, meaning it's a Highlanders scrum. It'll be 10m from the Waratahs' line.

46min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Highlanders cough up the ball with a knock on and make matters worse with Lienert-Brown getting penalised for tackling Beale without the ball. Waratahs kick for touch and get a lineout 40m from the Highlanders' line.

43min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Highlanders get a penalty after a cheap, late hit from Hanigan on Sopoaga during a clearance kick. Sopoaga gets back up and he looks okay but the Highlanders have turned a clearing kick inside their 22m to a lineout just inside the Waratahs half as a result. Worth it, Hanigan?

40min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Sopoaga gets things underway again.

HT: WAR 6-23 HIG

First half in the books and to put it simply, the Highlanders have outplayed the Waratahs so far. Dominanted the rucks, executed with their set piece and constantly applying pressure to the Waratahs' offence. Even Folau is making uncharacteristic errors. It's a great start but they're not home yet. Stick around, we'll have the second half soon to see if the Highlanders can finish it off.

38min: WAR 6-23 HIG

He's thrown some stunners tonight but this latest pass from Sopoaga is a shocker. Goes miles forward and flies into touch. Waratahs opt for the scrum instead of the lineout though - its 30m from the Highlanders' line.

36min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Pressure strikes again. The Waratahs' throw at the lineout isn't straight so it's a Highlanders' scrum on their 5m. 

35min: WAR 6-23 HIG

Waratahs get a big chance to reply before the half after they get an intercept on halfway and immediately kick ahead. Naholo gets back to recover it but he's swamped by Waratahs and is penalised for not releasing. Tahs know they're too far behind to take three here and kick for touch. 5m lineout coming up.

34min: WAR 6-23 HIG

HIG THREE! The Highlanders' scrum puts on a massive shove and the Waratahs front row comes up under the pressure. Sopoaga steps forward for the penalty and takes thre free points on offer from 15m out in front.

32min: WAR 6-20 HIG

There's a stoppage in play for Michael Wells who stayed down after a heavy collision. It's been a good three minutes and he hasn't moved at all. Not looking good for the Waratahs loosie. He finally gets to his fet and walks off on his own but his night looks over. Highlanders with a scrum 15m from the line to restart things.

31min: WAR 6-20 HIG

Waratahs look for an intercept on another big pass to Naholo but it's a knock on. Highlanders scrum 15m from the Waratahs' line.

29min: WAR 6-20 HIG

Highlanders have another attacking lineout on the Waratahs 22m after the Tahs' pack is penalised for collapsing a maul. Sopoaga finds touch with the penalty.

27min: WAR 6-20 HIG

Highlanders attack down the right wing after a skip pass from Sopoaga to Naholo puts the big winger in space. He's taken down on the Waratahs' 22m. Fired back to Sopoaga who floats a cross kick to the left wing but there's no one from either team there. Bounces into touch for Waratahs lineout 15m from their line.

25min: WAR 6-20 HIG

HIG TRY! Too easy. Rob Thompson slices through the middle on the 22m with a right step and he's in under the posts. Clean play from the Highlanders at the moment and they're well and truly winning in all areas of the park so far.

22min: WAR 6-13 HIG

It's happened again! A chaotic phase of play filled with bouncing passes from both sides eventually sees the Waratahs counter-attack and make their way into the Highlanders 22m. But once again, a runner gets isolated and the Highlanders strike over the top. The ball isn't released and it's another penalty at the breakdown. The Waratahs are struggling massively in the ruck at the moment. Sopoaga kicks for touch with the penalty and gives the Highlanders a lineout 10m from halfway in their half.

19min: WAR 6-13 HIG

HIG THREE! Waratahs dive on a loose pass to get the ball back but it turns into a disaster as they give up yet another penalty. This time it's Folau getting isolated in the middle of the field and Coltman is over the top. Folau doesn't release and the whistle blows. Sopoaga from 25m out in front says thank you very much.

16min: WAR 6-10 HIG

Waratahs cough up another penalty at the ruck - this time for not releasing the ball. Sopoaga seeks touch and finds it. Highlanders lineout 40m from the Waratahs line.

14min: WAR 6-10 HIG

Miscommunication leads to a poor throw and it's ruled not straight. Waratahs packing a scrum down just inside their half.

13min: WAR 6-10 HIG

Highlanders back in attacking territory after the Waratahs are penalised for not rolling away after kickoff. Sopoaga finds touch and it's a lineout just inside the Waratahs half.

12min: WAR 6-10 HIG

HIG TRY! Naholo dives into the corner and the Highlanders are back in front. Visitors get a lineout on halfway and they come off the top and hit the midfield. It's recycled quickly to the right to Sopoaga and he sells a beautiful dummy to slice into the backfield. He sees Naholo on the right wing unmarked and fires it to him. Naholo goes the final 20m to score. Slick from the southerners.

9min: WAR 6-3 HIG

WAR THREE! Highlanders immediately fall onto the backfoot again as their penalised in the first ruck after the kickoff for not releasing. Waratahs arrived with numbers after kickoff and forced the issue. Smart play. Foley slots it from 25m out to the right.

7min: WAR 3-3 HIG

HIG THREE! Highlanders respond straight away after Waratahs are penalised for not rolling away seven phases into the Highlanders' attack. It's 40m out in front and Sopoaga nails it. All tied up. 

4min: WAR 3-0 HIG

WAR THREE!  Lentjes is penalised for being offside and it's right in front from around 20m out. Foley steps forward to give the homeside a lead and does so with ease.

2min: WAR 0-0 HIG

Highlanders try a switch move from the scrum but the final pass to the right wing sails into touch. Waratahs take it quickly and Folau sees space in the backfield and kicks. Sopoaga races back to get to the bouncing ball and gets to it before clearing. Waratahs lineout 30m out.


Foley gets things underway and we're off in Sydney! And it's a shocker! Way too short so we come back to halfway for a Highlanders scrum.

Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium
Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium Source: Getty


Keeping a full contingent on the park will be the first step for the Highlanders if they are to wipe the painful memories of their last Super Rugby trip to Sydney.

Halting big NSW Waratahs ball runners is seen as another fundamental in Saturday's quarter-final.

The Dunedin-based side were humbled 41-12 in round 14 two months ago, a momentous result which ended a 40-match winless streak for Australian franchises against Kiwi teams.

It is best remembered for the red card shown to Highlanders winger Tavita Nabura in the opening quarter.

His kung fu-style kick to the face of opposite Cam Clarke when claiming a high ball handed the Waratahs a virtual free pass, exacerbated when halfback Aaron Smith was shown a yellow card soon afterwards.

However, Highlanders assistant coach Clarke Dermody said the danger signs had become obvious prior to their numerical disadvantage.

"We played a lot of that game down on men, which is not ideal, but even in that first 15 minutes the Waratahs were playing awesome," Dermody told AAP.

"They were creating heaps of momentum with their big runners so I guess that's probably the bit of that game which we've been reviewing - how to stop that.

"I'm predicting they'll probably do that again."

Big outside backs Taqele Naiyaravoro and Israel Folau both bagged doubles while Curtis Rona also ran amok, ending the Waratahs' four-match losing trot to the Highlanders.

The Kiwis are close to full strength and refreshed after welcoming back two influential All Blacks, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith.

There are six starting changes from the makeshift side which finished the regular season with a 43-37 home win over the Melbourne Rebels.

Key figures who have endured a heavy workload were rested to prepare them for the Australian conference champions.

Veteran fullback and co-captain Ben Smith is a leading light in their counter- attacking style while halfback Aaron Smith dictates the speed of their game and is a lethal tactical kicker.

Also back is outside centre Rob Thompson, one of their big improvers this season, along with regular first-choice forwards Luke Whitelock, Tom Franklin and Daniel Lienert-Brown.

Dermody believes his returning players have benefited from a break.

"You can tell straight away. Monday morning when those boys came back in they had a spring in their step and were ready to go," he said.

"Partly because it's knockout rugby but partly because they had that whole week off."


Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson

Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Cameron Clark, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (cc), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Shannon Frizell, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Matt Faddes


Watch: Crusaders execute textbook counter-attack off Sharks' lineout to score thanks to Ryan Crotty's barnstorming run

The Crusaders have swatted aside a gritty challenge from the Sharks 40-10 to set up a mouth-watering Super Rugby semi-final against the Hurricanes.

Despite failing to play their best rugby in Christchurch tonight, the defending champion Crusaders were always in control in their quarter-final.

By snaring a 13th successive win they took a step closer to their ninth title.

However, a stiffer challenge awaits in Christchurch next week against a Hurricanes side who showed signs of returning to their best in Friday's quarter- final defeat of the Chiefs.

The Crusaders will want to be better, spending chunks of the match inside their half, not helped by a faltering lineout display.

However, their defence was able to cope with most of what the Durban-based visitors threw at them, aside from when winger Kobus van Wyk scored following an extended period of Sharks dominance.

It left the Crusaders 16-7 ahead at halftime before a try soon after the break to Matt Todd boosted their buffer.

Reserves Braydon Ennor and Pete Samu bagged late tries as the Crusaders lived up to widespread predictions they'd win comfortably.

Ennor's introduction came following the departure of winger Seta Tamanivalu, who was knocked out momentarily when trying to stop van Wyk's try.

Earlier, the Crusaders suggested they'd romp to victory when halfback Bryn Hall and fullback David Havili crossed inside the first 12 minutes to put their team 13-0 up.

No South African franchise has ever won a finals game in New Zealand in 13 attempts.

Prop Tendai Mtawarira played his 150th game for the Sharks, who qualified in eighth spot, heading off the Melbourne Rebels on points differential.



As it happened: Crusaders too good for Sharks as dominant second half leads to quarter-final win in Christchurch

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of this evening's Super Rugby quarter-final between the Crusaders and Sharks at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

FT: CRU 40-10 SHA

That does it for the second quarter-final. That penalty and try either side of the halftime hooter really hurt the Sharks and the Crusaders steamrolled them late to get the job done in typical fashion. Not the cleanest result but definitely one they'll be happy to use as a foundation for their playoff run. That does it for this game but stay tuned - we have the Highlanders and Waratahs coming up!

77min: CRU 40-10 SHA

And they turn it over with an overthrow. Summarises their night really. Costly errors at big times - can't do that against the Crusaders. Crusaders clear with a much better kick this time. Sharks lineout just inside the Crusaders' half.

76min: CRU 40-10 SHA

Sharks get a penalty and kick for touch. 5m lineout coming up.

74min: CRU 40-10 SHA

Sharks have a chance at redemption after the Crusaders clearance kick isn't that great. Sharks get a lineout on the Crusaders 22m to work with.

72min: CRU 40-10 SHA

CRU TRY! Salt in the wound as Samu dives in to score. Todd takes a quick tap on his 22m after the Crusaders earn a penalty and he links up with Whitelock. Whitelock tuns it halfway before connecting with Havili. Havili links with Hunt who then gives it on to Samu to finish. Too easy.

68min: CRU 33-10 SHA

CRU TRY! That'll do it and Ennor delivers the final nail in style. Sells a massive dummy 40m out and cuts back inside to run it in. Beautiful fake from the reserve. Time really against the Sharks now and that score doesn't help them. Even worse, Mo'unga slots his first one from the sideline to push it to 23 points.

65min: CRU 26-10 SHA

Once again, the Sharks launch an attack and make their way down to the Crusaders' 22m but their hands let them down again and there's a knock on. They've had seven handling errors tonight to the Crusaders' one. Crusaders scrum just inside their 22m.

61min: CRU 26-10 SHA

Crusaders earn a scrum on their 22m after the Sharks cough the ball up and look to attack down the blindside with Goodhue. He links up with Bridge and the young winger looks to kick ahead but it's off the side of his boot and out on the full. Sharks lineout on halfway.

59min: CRU 26-10 SHA

Hats off to the Crusaders defence. Sharks work away for 18 phases inside the Crusaders' 22m but the defence never breaks. Alaalatoa spots an opportunity and instigates a counterruck leading to a turnover. Mo'unga gets it and hoofs it downfield. Sharks lineout on halfway. Time starting to tick away here and the defence is looking good for the home side.

57min: CRU 26-10 SHA

CRU THREE! Sharks are pinged for being offside and Mo'unga pushes the lead out to three scores.

55min: CRU 23-10 SHA

Crusaders try a grubber off the scrum but overcook it and give the Sharks a 22m dropout. Crusaders run it back at the Sharks and Barrett makes a break. He powers into the Sharks' 22m before getting taken down. Looks to pop it up but a Sharks player gets a hand to it. Ball rolls free and the ref calls for a Crusaders scrum, saying there was a knock on by the Sharks there. Scrum packing down 20m from the Sharks' line again.

52min: CRU 23-10 SHA

Sharks lose the ball shortly after the scrum and the Crusaders counterattack through Ennor down the left wing. He stips inside one and sprints into the Sharks' 22m. He had support but tries to go himself and gets taken down. Tries an offload but it's loose and the Sharks look to intercept but there's a knock on. Crusaders scrum 20m from the Sharks' line.

51min: CRU 23-10 SHA

Ref gets in the way of the pass and has to come back for a scrum. It'll be a Sharks feed on halfway as they had control of the ball when it happened.

48min: CRU 23-10 SHA

SHA THREE! Sharks look reply through Du Preez after Taufua is penalised for hands in the ruck and he gets it.

45min: CRU 23-7 SHA

Sharks fly into the Crusaders' 22m after stealing the ball at the lineout. They shift the ball to right wing before getting taken down 15m out and there's a turnover. Bridge is the only one available to shift into the pocket so he does so and clears but it's not that great. Sharks lineout 20m from the Crusaders' line.

43min: CRU 23-7 SHA

CRU TRY! Crusaders strike through Todd! They rumble towards the Sharks' line before a cheeky offload sets up the loosie to bowl over and score. This all goes back to Mo'unga's previous play. Great strike by the Crusaders.

41min: CRU 16-7 SHA

Great start by Mo'unga. Sharks clear and the first-five brings it back from inside his half. Chips one over the top and chases it. Awkward bounce sees the Sharks forced to chase it into their 22m to recover and as they do Mo'unga arrives to make a tackle into touch. Huge play so early. Crusaders' lineout on the Sharks' 22m.

40min: CRU 16-7 SHA

Mo'unga gets it going again.

HT: CRU 16-7 SHA

CRU THREE! Mo'unga slots it as the hooter goes and pushes the lead back out past one converted try to wrap up the first 40. Strange half that. Sharks have definitely been their own biggest enemy but the Crusaders haven't been able to capitalise like they have during this winning streak. Still, they've got the lead and they've earned it. 40 more minutes of the same will see them host the Hurricanes next week. We'll be back soon to see if that comes to fruition.

39min: CRU 13-7 SHA

Crusaders look destined to score but it'll be a penalty instead. After 11 phases of play around halfway, Todd makes a break through the line and bursts into the Sharks' 22m. He looks to Havili for support but Havili is tackled without the ball. Ref plays advantage and as the Crusaders knock it on trying to recycle quickly, they come back for it. Sharks are lucky they didn't lose a man there.

35min: CRU 13-7 SHA

Both sides play the territory game with their kicks but the Crusaders win it handsomely as Havili finds space behind the Sharks and bounces it into touch. Sharks lineout just inside their 22m.

33min: CRU 13-7 SHA

Just confirming, Tamanivalu's night is over. He reportedly went unconscious in the contact so that's a red flag. On the field, the Sharks have a 22m dropout after they scrambled to get to a charged down kick in their in-goal.

30min: CRU 13-7 SHA

Tamanivalu's night may be over. He's come off after taking a head knock. Sharks have another lineout on the Crusaders 22m after the Crusaders turned the ball over and cleared for touch.

29min: CRU 13-7 SHA

Sharks keep the ball in hand after kick off and it's worked for them. They earn a penalty on halfway for hands in the ruck by the Crusaders so it's another kick for touch. Sharks lineout on the Crusaders' 22m coming up.

27min: CRU 13-7 SHA

SHA TRY! Sharks make an intercept off the back of the scrum and burst down the right wing into the Crusaders 22m. They come back to the left and there's numbers out on the left wing and the hands are good this time. Van Wyk is in to score.

24min: CRU 13-0 SHA

Sharks go to another maul in the lineout but Todd has come through and ripped it away. Crusaders clear and Sharks come back only to knock the ball on again. The Sharks' coach's box can't believe what they're seeing right now - we can't either, to be fair. Crusaders scrum just inside their half.

21min: CRU 13-0 SHA

YIKES! Sharks have numbers to the right and they fire it. Perfect pass by Du Preez and van Wyk has dropped it cold. He's lucky they had a penalty advantage for a collapsed maul but that was a freebie with no Crusaders near him. Sharks use the penalty to kick for touch again. Another 5m lineout.

20min: CRU 13-0 SHA

Sharks with another big attacking chance after the Crusaders hand over a penalty for not releasing. Sharks kick for touch and get a 5m lineout for their efforts. 

17min: CRU 13-0 SHA

Sharks earn a penalty at the scrum after an early shove by the Crusaders so they look to respond with three points from 20m out. However the penalty is off the posts! Shaky start gets even worse for the Sharks.

15min: CRU 13-0 SHA

Sharks look for a maul but it goes down. Pick and goes get them a few more metres but the ball comes lose in the tackle. Ref rules it was knocked on by the Crusaders when they stripped it so it's a Sharks scrum 15m from the Crusaders line.

14min: CRU 13-0 SHA

Sharks get their first attacking chance of the night as Mo'unga hacks a kick into touch after kickoff. It's only got 10m on it and it'll be a Sharks throw on the Crusaders' 22m.

13min: CRU 13-0 SHA

CRU TRY! The Crusaders are in again! They steal the ball at a lineout on halfway and again Crotty busts through the midfield. He flings it to Havili in support and the fullback finishes it off in the right corner. What a start for the hosts.

10min: CRU 8-0 SHA

CRU TRY! Crusaders go quickly off the top of the lineout to Crotty in the midfield. He bumps off one, keeps running. It takes three to get him down but he pops it up to Hall for a quick recycle. It's fired left with 40m to and Bridge burns down the left wing. One to beat, draws and passes to Hall and the halfback is in. 

8min: CRU 3-0 SHA

Early pressure seems to be getting to the Sharks. Schreuder's first box kick of the night has gone out on the full from halfway. We'll come all the way back for a Crusaders throw.

7min: CRU 3-0 SHA

CRU THREE! Crusaders work to the middle of the field for eight phases before the Sharks get too greedy and get penalised for hands in the ruck. Penalty is right in front and in quarter-finals rugby, too good to turn down. Mo'unga slots it from 20m out with ease. Crusaders take the early lead.

4min: CRU 0-0 SHA

And finally, the Crusaders make their mark. The Sharks' front row buckles in the scrum and the whistle goes. Mo'unga kicks for touch and gives the Crusaders a lineout on the Sharks' 22m.

3min: CRU 0-0 SHA

Scrum is looking sloppy early here. Three resets later, we're still waiting to get the ball in.

1min: CRU 0-0 SHA

Crusaders immediately clear after kickoff and it's worked perfectly. Sharks look to counterattack on the kick when it doesn't go out but bringing it back to the middle of the field, there's a knock on. Crusaders scrum just inside their half.


Sharks get things underway in Christchurch!

The two teams last faced off in round five of the 2016 season.
Source: 1 NEWS


After an electric contest between the Hurricanes and Chiefs last night, quarter-finals action heads south to Crusaders territory where the home side enter as heavy favourites in the 1 v 8 match-up.

To start with, coach Scott Robertson has made five changes from last week's big win over the Blues, naming 12 All Blacks in his starting XV for tonight's contest after Kieran Read was cleared to don the No.8 jersey with a thumb injury he picked up last week no longer hampering him.

Most of the moves bring in All Blacks, with Codie Taylor and Owen Franks back in the front row while Scott Barrett also comes back into the fold.

In the backs, Bryn Hall has been swapped in for Mitchell Drummond at halfback while David Havili replaces Israel Dagg at No.15 - Dagg has dropped out of the game day 23 altogether.

The Sharks have taken a different tact, naming a completely unchanged squad from last week's win over the Jaguares.

They'll also be inspired by Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira plays his 150th Super Rugby match for the Sharks tonight but ending a 12-game winning streak in Christchurch will remain a big ask.

The Crusaders are heavy favourites for their quarter-final match in Christchurch. Source: 1 NEWS

Franks told reporters last week they aren't taking the game lightly though - their first clash with the Sharks since round five in 2016.

"They are going to chuck everything at it, they're physical team and they'll try test us up front," said Franks.

"It's a good challenge for us and I'm looking forward to it."

The Crusaders prop said the Sharks will be a different challenge from their fellow South African counterparts.

"Really explosive attack and not so much typical African play, they chuck the ball around and have really good counter-attack.

"But they also got their big guys they play off as well and they have a good record against Kiwi teams this year so that has the hairs on the neck standing up."


Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tim Perry

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi