Crusaders 17 v 13 Brumbies
The Crusaders made a winning start to their Super Rugby campaign when they claimed a hard-fought 17-13 triumph over the Brumbies in Christchurch on Saturday.
The home side dominated for large periods and should have won this match by a bigger margin, but the Brumbies delivered a competitive effort.
The Canberra-based side will be wondering what could have been, however, as they had chances to win the game in the second half but failed to pull it off.
Both sides showed great intent on attack although the Crusaders made better use of their opportunities and outscored their visitors by three tries to one.
The seven-time champions made a bright start and after a prolonged period of attack in which they took the ball through 14 phases in the build-up, Israel Dagg delivered a perfectly-weighted long pass to Seta Tamanivalu, who burst through a tackle before crossing for the opening try in the fourth minute.
Richie Mo’unga added the extras but the Brumbies reduced the deficit five minutes later when Wharenui Hawera opened their account via a penalty, after Joe Moody was blown up for an indiscretion at a ruck.
The Crusaders had a bulk of the possession for the rest of the half although they had little to show for their dominance as the Brumbies managed to soak up the pressure with a solid defensive effort.
The visitors suffered a setback midway through the half, however, when James Dargaville was yellow carded for taking out Israel Dagg in an aerial challenge.
The Crusaders showed great patience on attack for the next ten minutes and were rewarded in the 34th minute when Whetu Douglas crossed for their second try after gathering a superb offload from Dagg close to the Brumbies’ try-line.
The Brumbies were fastest out of the blocks in the second half and after the ball went through several pairs of hands shortly after the restart, Rory Arnold went over for an easy five-pointer in the left-hand corner.
Hawera slotted the conversion from close to the touchline which meant the Brumbies were back in this game with the score at 12-10 to the home side.
The home side didn’t panic though and struck back in the 56th minute when Pete Samu went over for their third try from a dominant scrum by the hosts close to the Brumbies’ try-line.
Mo’unga missed with the conversion attempt and the result was in the balance for the rest of the half as the Brumbies upped the ante on attack.
And when Hawera added a three-pointer from the kicking tee in the 68th minute, there were some worried looks amongst the Crusaders supporters in the crowd.
The hosts had a chance to seal the win in the 74th minute when Mo’unga lined up a shot at goal, but his effort was a poor one and went wide of the uprights.
The Brumbies tried desperately to secure the result at the end, but the Crusaders managed to see the threat out and held on for the win.
Tries: Tamanivalu, Douglas, Samu
Pens: Hawera 2
Yellow Card: Dargaville
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Ereatari Enari, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 David Havili
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Nic Mayhew
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leulua’Iali’I-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Dewet Roos, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Isaac Thompson
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)