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Crusaders 28 – 15 Highlanders

Israel Dagg scored the first try of the matchIsrael Dagg scored the first try of the match

The Crusaders defeated the Highlanders 28-15 in their Super Rugby warm-up match in Motueka on Friday.

The 21-3 half time score was too difficult to recover from for the Highlanders, but Jamie Joseph’s men did make a valiant effort to comeback.

All Black fullback Israel Dagg was the first to score for the Crusaders, with Tyler Bleyendaal successfully converting to put them ahead 7-0.

Scrumhalf Andy Ellis then nabbed the second try, while Nafi Tuitavake also added a five-pointer of his own.

The Highlanders did chip away at the Crusaders’ lead with a penalty, but Kieron Fonotia made it far more difficult by scoring another try for the men from Christchurch and Colin Slade converting.

The Highlanders finally crossed the opposition line, with Ged Robinson and Malakai Fekitoa, but it wasn’t enough to put them ahead of the seven-time Super Rugby champions.

Crusaders  Tries: Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Nafi Tuitavake, Kieron Fonotia. Conversions: Tyler Bleyendaal (3), Colin Slade.
Highlanders – Tries: Ged Robinson, Malakai Fekitoa. Penalties: Willie Ripia. Conversions: Willie Ripia.

Crusaders – 1 Tim Perry, 2 Ben Funnell 3, Nepo Laulala, 4 Luke Romano, 5 Dominic Bird, 6 George Whitelock, 7 Jed Brown, 8 Jordan Taufua, 9 Andy Ellis, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Ryan Crotty (c), 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 14 Rob Thompson, 15 Israel Dagg.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Joel Everson, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Kieron Fonotia, Samuel Whitelock, Tom Taylor, Adam Whitelock, Zac Guildford, Mitchell Drummond, Corey Flynn, Daniel Lienert Brown.

Highlanders – 1 Chris King, 2 Braydon Mitchell, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 4 Brad Thorn, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 6 Gareth Evans, 7 John Hardie, 8 Elliot Dixon, 9 Frae Wilson, 10 Willie Ripia, 11 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 13 Jason Emery, 14 Patrick Osborne, 15 Kurt Baker.


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