An excellent spectacle
By Roger Childs
The Crusaders – Highlanders clash in Christchurch last evening was great advertisement for New Zealand’s brand of running rugby.
In the first half the home team had scored three tries to two and headed into the sheds with a 23-18 lead.
The third try by Scott Barrett in the 41st minute, came after a sweeping movement from near half way involved both backs and forwards, epitomising the Crusaders approach to move the ball at pace from anywhere.
They pulled away in the second spell to eventually win 45-22.
Polished skills on show
This was a high quality match which featured plenty of
- fast delivery from the half backs
- speedy running from both backs and forwards
- excellent backing up of the ball carrier
- spot tackling which often saw the team with the ball pushed behind the advantage line.
Although the Highlanders scored three excellent backline tries they had less possession than the Crusaders and some crucial knock-ons denied them the chance to increase their score.
How good are the Crusaders?
They are definitely the best team in Super Rugby and their record puts them well head on the points table. Even with two matches to play they are guaranteed to have home advantage all the way to the final.
Their forward pack has always been powerful with All Blacks from hooker to number eight, and the return of Kieran Read last night underlined this strength.
A few years ago, they had a bunch of no names in the backs with just Ryan Crotty featuring in the All Blacks. However, the young guys have come on and Ritchie Mo’unga at first five featured as a replacement in the third test against France.
David Havili and Jack Goodhue have now also worn the black jersey.
Mo’unga’s all round skills were superbly demonstrated in the second half, when he broke the line near half way, kicked ahead and re-gathered to score by the posts.
Coach, Scott Robinson, has got them firing on all cylinders at the sharp end of the competition and the team has no weaknesses. One of their great skills is the ability to attack from anywhere and to punish opposition mistakes.
It will be no big surprise to see them crowned as champions for the second year running in a few weeks time.