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Crusaders player ratings vs Brumbies | Super Rugby Pacific

By Ned Lester
The Crusaders celebrate their try. Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images

The reigning champions hosting an unbeaten Brumbies is a mouth-watering prospect and despite the Crusaders’ shaky start to 2023, the Super Rugby win predictor favoured the Canterbury side by 93%.


Some of that will be due to the Brumbies leaving a number of their Wallabies at home, including James Slipper, Rob Valetini and Nic White.

The first half provided some great back and forth, both sides challenged each other’s scramble defence with backs stretching their legs and showing some blistering pace. The Crusaders defence proved sturdier than their visitors, defusing some try-line scoring opportunities while executing on the other end for a halftime lead of 21-3.

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The second half saw momentum swing back and forth but handling errors and some subpar discipline from both sides made the second 40 a scrappy one. The Brumbies finally managed to maintain some ball and build momentum in response to the Crusaders opening the scoring in the second half, scoring a try of their own in the 48th minute.

A talking point pre-game was the rolling maul, as the Crusaders have a remarkable record of 6 years without letting in a rolling maul try while the Brumbies own one of the most lethal strike rates off those lineout plays in the competition. The Crusaders were forced to defuse a number of attempts but kept the Brumbies out, nullifying one of their biggest strengths. Final score: 35-17.


Here’s how the Crusaders rated:

1. Joe Moody – 8.5

Moody was back to his old tricks in this game, winning scrums on the opponent’s feed and applying pressure with every injection. The 34-year-old came out of the sheds and attacked the line in the second half, making some impressive post-contact metres.

2. Codie Taylor – 8

Contributed expertly to Fainaga’anuku’s opening try, wrapping around the back of the lineout after his precision throw and delivering the try assist. Taylor’s X-factor hasn’t been so present in recent weeks but his all-around game and set piece work is still a very strong contribution for his side.


3. Tamaiti Williams – 7.5

Playing alongside seasoned veterans in the likes of Moody and Taylor is doing great things for Willimas’ development, he’s composed and well-considered when he needs to be and a human wrecking ball with a run-up. The Crusaders’ scrum was dominant and Williams is a hard man to move in the rolling maul.

4. Scott Barrett (c) – 8

Barrett will be without his long-time running mate Sam Whitelock for the next few weeks as the 143-cap All Black nurses a broken hand. While Barrett is putting in well-balanced performances, Whitelock’s knack for making plays in big moments is a huge loss and one the captain will be challenged to make up for. Tonight there were a few lineout wobbles but his nine carries accounted for 20 meters and his physicality was felt in some dominant play around the ruck.


5. Dominic Gardiner – 7


Gardiner’s first shot at extended minutes since his impressive run with the All Blacks XV last November was an overall strong outing. A couple of dynamic touches showed the big man’s skillset, running at a good pace and delivering a floating pass out wide to Patafilo who put the kick in for Ennor’s try. Proved over-eager with a couple of touches, but will no doubt learn to have a better feel for when to chance his arm and when to play it safe as he gets more minutes with Whitelock out.

6. Ethan Blackadder – 8

Was into everything, winning turnovers in a variety of ways and running excellent lines. Off with a calf injury 30 minutes in.

7. Tom Christie – 8

In another 80-minute performance for the tackle machine, Christie racked up 18 tackles with just one incompletion. He’s putting his hand up for some more carries in attack and while it’s not always pretty, he’s finding his way in that area.

8. Sione Havili Talitui – 7.5

Handed the Brumbies their first points of the game when he was called for not rolling in the opening two minutes. Was penalised some more for the same offence in the first half before finding his running game early in the second. Found some strong form early in the fourth quarter of the match which proved to be the defining period.

9. Mitchell Drummond – 7

Drummond has really found his feet after a shaky start to the season, he’s operating efficiently within this Crusaders’ attack. He’s a patient nine that doesn’t rush his deliveries and decision making but that slightly slower approach doesn’t hurt his team’s dynamic play and he speeds the ball up when the game opens up.

10. Richie Mo’unga – 7.5

Richie’s twinkle toes were on display early but he quickly got his kick charged which led to the Brumbies’ opening three points. Some uncharacteristic handling errors saw attacking opportunities go begging. Dangerous in open play as always but just couldn’t find his groove in this one.

11. Leicester Fainga’anuku – 9

Picked up where he left off last week, running a perfect line to score a sensational try in the fifth minute. Chewed through metres with every carry and crossed for his second by beating a handful of Brumbies players off the back of another lineout move.

12. Dallas McLeod – 7

You can tell McLeod has grown in confidence tremendously with his strong outings of late, he’s trusting his skills and attacking with more enthusiasm. McLeod’s few kicks didn’t generate any positive results for his side and this match may have been a learning curve as playing with some more freedom looked like it may have disrupted his combination with Richie Mo’unga. The two will no doubt iron out the creases in their partnership in due time.

13. Braydon Ennor – 7.5

Ennor’s pace serves him well on both sides of the ball, he positions himself expertly on defence and trusts he can make up ground even on the Brumbies’ quicker backs. On attack, his try sums it up, he can outrun his opposition. He has a tendency to have some quieter periods in the middle of games but shows up for the big moments.

14. Pepesana Patafilo – 8

Showed some nice touches on attack, chipping the ball through for Ennor’s try. Patafilo’s defence has been very impressive throughout the opening weeks in his showings off the bench, and he only built on that in his first start. His impressive work rate will see him find consistent minutes from Scott Robertson in Sevu Reece and Will Jordan’s absence.

15. Fergus Burke – 7.5

The wind was a challenge for any player under the high ball tonight and Burke’s performance in that area was a mixed bag as a result. He’ll find limited opportunities to inject himself in the current structure, as Mo’unga handles a lot of the work in the backfield. But, Burke looks to be settling into that role nicely and taking his few opportunities with great intent and well timed acceleration.



16. Brodie McAlister – 7.5

Consistently contributes strong defence and a stable set piece in his showings off the pine.

17. George Bower – 7

18. Kershawl Sykes-Martin – 8

His first touch of the game was a steaming run in midfield, he eventually knocked it on but it’s always a pleasure to see a front-rower in full flight. Won a turnover in the 70th minute when the momentum of the game could have gone either way.

19. Jamie Hannah – 7.5

His first contribution at Super Rugby level was an infringement, but Hannah – or as his mates in the crowd chanted, “Hannah Montana” – soon showed his skillset and work rate with some swift pick-and-go’s around the ruck.

20. Christian Lio-Willie – 7.5

Came on 30 minutes in for an injured Ethan Blackadder. Had a couple of strong carries. Copped a blatant penalty for charging down a kick off a quick tap without retreating ten metres. Scored a strong try to seal the game for his side.

21. Willi Heinz – 8.5

Heinz came on with a real intent to speed up the ball delivery from the truck and while the ball was rapid, the Crusaders’ attack was often flat and didn’t reward Heinz’s work. While there weren’t any match-saving, clutch tackles, his defence was again very strong.

22. Will Gualter – 7

23. Chay Fihaki – 7


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