Two tries from Israel Dagg on his return to Super Rugby was the highlight for the Crusaders as they outclassed the Jaguares 32-15 on Friday.
Back from injury and with much talk surrounding the form of Damian McKenzie, this was a timely reminder from Dagg to the All Black selectors.
He also set up a try for Andy Ellis, with Richie Mo’unga and Kieran Read adding the Crusaders’ other scores while Facundo Isa and Santiago González Iglesias crossed for the visitors, who battled until the end in Christchurch.
A high tempo was the catalyst for the Crusaders in the first half and they were well worth their 22-3 lead at the interval.
The Jaguares simply could not keep pace with their hosts and Dagg was a main protagonist with ball in hand, causing them plenty of issues.
Indeed Dagg would play a part in the opening try as his support line off Ryan Crotty after the centre straightened the line led to scrum-half Ellis feeding off his full-back. It was a clear run-in for the Crusaders half-back before playmaker Mo’unga did the rest off the tee.
A penalty from Juan Martín Hernández on twelve minutes offered the Jaguares some reprieve after a scrum offence but it only proved to be short-lived as back came the Crusaders, wing Johnny McNicholl breaking through before being hauled down one metre out. At that ruck Joaquín Tuculet clearly slowed down the ball and was shown a yellow card by referee Craig Joubert, which proved to be costly for the Argentines.
Only two minutes later the Crusaders were over for their second try of the game as numbers on the right resulted in Dagg diving over and Mo’unga would cross soon after, with the scoreline suddenly 19-3. The net result of Tuculet’s sin-binning was twelve points on the board.
The half’s scoring was not over however as just when the Jaguares thought they had the dressing room in their sights, good work from Joe Moody handed the Crusaders a simple shot at three points. Mo’unga obliged to make it a nineteen-point buffer with the Crusaders in control.
It was a much better start to the second period from the Jaguares and they would cross first on 47 minutes when, after Ellis was penalised for an attempted punch, a lineout saw Isa crash over wide out. Hernández slotted the difficult conversion to make it a 22-10 scoreline.
That try meant the Crusaders had lost their try bonus-point which explained their insistence on kicking to the corner instead of goal, as the Jaguares committed offences until the hour mark. While the visitors kept their line intact one sensed it was only a matter of time before it was breached.
And so it proved as lovely hands moving right to left resulted in Read crossing on 61 minutes before Dagg grabbed his second with a lovely individual break, showing good acceleration to go past Tuculet, which secured the five points. One feared for the Jaguares at that point as the Crusaders were shifting through the gears.
Credit to the visitors though as they did not roll over and were rewarded late on with a try from González Iglesias the last scoring act on the night.
CRUSADERS – 32
Tries: Andrew Ellis(4),Israel Dagg(24,62),Richie Mo”unga(29),Kieran Read(59)
Penalties: Richie Mo’unga (40)
Cons: Richie Mo’unga (5,30)
JAGUARES – 15
Tries: Facundo Isa (47) Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias(76)
Penalties: Juan Martin Hernandez (11)
Cons:Juan Martin Hernandez (48)
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Sean Wainui, 23 Ben Volavola
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Juan Cruz Guillemaín, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Joaquín Paz, 23 Lucas González Amorosino
Date: Friday, April 15
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper, Jamie Nutbrown
TMO: Aaron Paterson