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Crusaders player ratings vs Brumbies | Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

By Mike Rehu

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The Crusaders continued the trend of Kiwi dominance in round one of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition, just beating the Brumbies 31-29 in Christchurch.

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Watching the early simple errors that led to the dysfunctional scrums was as much fun as a root canal but patient viewers were rewarded with the odd sprinkling of excitement; both teams that looked like they were coming down from their respective finals last week.

The second half was more fluid and the Brumbies showed some spunk, showing a never say die attitude. If it wasn’t for a bizarre call from assistant referee James Doleman at a lineout they could have had a memorable victory.

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Here’re the Crusaders ratings.

1. George Bower – 5.5

As well as scruffy scrumming threw a slovenly no-look pass to Simone in the 23rd minute that gave the Brumbies an 80 metre attack and penalty. Off at 56.

2. Codie Taylor – 6.5

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His 100th game for the franchise won’t be one he fondly remembers for the standard of play. Solid as teak but has lost his magnificent mojo from earlier in the season. Off at 60.

3. Michael Alalatoa – 5.5

For the second night in a row the scrums were a rabble. The nonsense seemed to start on the tighthead’s side with Sio and hopefully we don’t see too much of this malarkey during the competition. Didn’t have his normal defensive numbers either, one tackle and two missed. Off at 49.

4. Mitchell Dunshea – 6.5

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Such a wonderful athlete to have at lock. His hands to set up Blackadder for the first try were sublime. Off at 59 and back 10 minutes later after Grace’s bloodbin.

5. Sam Whitelock – 6.5

I wonder if he’ll get a rest next week, he still did the business but didn’t get it all his way against Swain and Frost.

6. Ethan Blackadder – 7

Didn’t need to do much for the first try but well deserved for all the dirty jobs he does. Gets into everything; a definite non-shirker at the breakdown and top tackler by some way. Showed some surprising speed at 60 minutes when streaking to the line, but just denied by one hell of a tackle by Reimer.

7. Tom Sanders – N/A

Off early after eating about three Valetini knees as he got a low tackle wrong.

8. Cullen Grace – 7

Nice turnover in the 17th minute to stop the Brumbies on attack. In my opinion he looked more aggressive and assertive tonight and warranted his try. The commitment translated into claret but some tape and a bit of vas and he was away again.

9. Bryn Hall – 6

Looked a lot better in the second half as the game became more fluid. The numbers showed that he was one-dimensional tonight, solely passing, no sniping and stats said no kicks at all. Maybe needs to to be a threat occasionally around the fringe to regain a starting spot off Drummond. Off at 60.

10. Richie Mo’unga – 7.5

It took 28 minutes but when we finally got a clean scrum, Richie made the most of the quick ball by stepping two or three flatfooted Brumbie defenders for a try. Brave in defence not backing down against some big runners as well. Off at 70.

11. Leicester Fainga’anuku – 6

Got sucked in on defence in the 17th and the 27th minutes but continued his strong running, picked out Valetini and Ikitau to take on and give a bruising to.

12. David Havili – 6.5

Every game he is looking more assured in the 2nd 5/8th role, some nice, animated dummy runs distracting defenders. At the end of the first quarter gave away three penalties with some poor judgement. Timed his run for his intercept try at the end of the first half. He’s got the no look/behind the back passes in midfield down well and also his occasional positional kicking to turn the Brumbies around was strong.

13. Braydon Ennor – 5.5

As with Mataele just didn’t look as fluent as the regulars in the backline. Had a decent chance on attack in the 3rd minute with some space but decided to pop an aimless chip in. Also saw a try go begging in the 40th minutes as he tried to dive over a ruck but lost control. Big hit on Valetini in the 66th then moments later couldn’t take a long pass with momentum and then missed Banks at the start of his incredible run, which he was still spewing about at the post-match interview.

14. Manasa Mataele – 5

Looked a little rusty in terms of match play, grabbing at the ball at times and just not being able to insert himself in the game. Off at 52.

15. George Bridge – 7

Prospered early with the Brumbies invitation to run it back from some generous positional kicking. Strong defence on Kata in the 17th minute and a nasty head clash with Ikitau early in the 2nd. Top metres for his team and valuable outing in terms of building some versatility in case of injury.

Reserves:

16. Brodie McAlister – N/A

On at 60. He’s solid.

17. Tamaiti Williams – 6

On at 56. I love his strength and mobility for a huge man; he’s going to be a big star.

18. Oliver Jager – 4

On at 49. 3 penalties given away to give the Brumbies a shot.

19. Quentin Strange – 4.5

On at 59. Threw an awful pass at 71 that led to the Banks try and missed a couple of tackles as well.

20. Brendon O’Connor – 6.5

On early after Sanders went off for some attention. I was looking forward to seeing a genuine open side operate for the Crusaders and he did pretty well, set up a nice turnover for Blackadder in the 45th. Got himself a rolling maul try off a bizarre penalty awarded by the A.R.

21. Ereatara Enari – 4

On at 60. Some good crisp passes but a dumb play to leave his team down one down for the last two minutes.

22. Fergus Burke – N/A

On at 70.

23. Sevu Reece – 5

On at 52. Over amped trying to make a difference.

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Crusaders player ratings vs Brumbies | Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

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