Super Rugby Aotearoa has presented us with another doozy.
The Waitaki River separates the catchments of the two South Island rugby giants, the Highlanders in the south and the Crusaders further north, but the two foes have plenty in common.
They are friends off the field. On it, well, things can get tasty at times. Which sets things up nicely for this one.
* Super Rugby: Crusaders captain Scott Barrett out for up to four months
* Super Rugby Aotearoa: Highlanders recall Michael Collins to face Crusaders
* Recap: Highlanders pip Chiefs 28-27 in Super Rugby thriller in Dunedin
If there’s a better rugby arena in New Zealand than the enclosed Forsyth Barr Stadium, we would like to know about it. Even if the air is frigid, the grass will be firm and dry and both teams should want to use the ball.
Can the Crusaders keep their unbeaten run intact? Or can the Highlanders swing the cosh and rock their neighbours back on their heels?
Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kickoff: 7.05pm, Saturday
Referee: Mike Fraser
NZ TAB odds: Highlanders $3.65 Crusaders $1.25
Highlanders: Michael Collins, Ngane Punivai, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Pari Pari Parkinson, Jeff Thwaites, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Jack Whetton, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kayne Hammington, Bryn Gatland, Vilimoni Koroi
Crusaders: David Havili, Will Jordan, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Leicester Faingaanuku, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Mitchell Dunshea, Samuel Whitelock, Michael Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor (captain), Joe Moody.
Reserves: Andrew Makalio, George Bower, Oliver Jager, Quinten Strange, Sione Havili, Ere Enari, Fetuli Paea, Sevu Reece.
The big storylines:
Prediction: If you’re going to place a wager on who should get the popcorn at halftime, back a fast start for the Crusaders. And for them to stay the course. The Highlanders proved in Auckland last week they don’t lack courage under fire when they almost upset the Blues at Eden Park. But this is a tough one.
How to follow: Stuff’s live blog will kickoff at 6.30pm