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Crusaders player ratings vs Highlanders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Tom Vinicombe
Ethan Blackadder. (Photo by John Davidson/Photosport)

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The Crusaders played host to the Highlanders on Friday night and were looking to avoid the ignominy of suffering two straight defeats at home.

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In a tit-for-tat affair, the Highlanders burst out of the trenches early but ever blow they fired was countered by one from the home team. With the Crusaders holding a slim 17-14 lead at halftime, it was still very much anyone’s game.

While there was plenty of industry on defence in the second spell, the incisiveness from both teams fell to the wayside and the score remained unchanged for the final 40 minutes, with the Crusaders holding firm despite having to make more than twice as many tackles as the visitors.

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How did the Crusaders rate in the win?

1. Joe Moody – 6.5/10
Earned his side two penalties at scrum time and put his hand up on defence. A fairly standard performance from the All Blacks front-rower. Off in 55th minute.

2. Codie Taylor – 5
Yet to find his form in 2022. Made a name for himself with his explosiveness but we’ve not seen his running game at all this season and dropped the ball cold early in the second quarter. Also had some lineout yips, which seem to have drifted into his game in recent teams. Still industrious on defence. Penalised once for not releasing in the tackle. Off in 67th minute.

3. Fletcher Newell – 7
Made a great mini-run to score the Crusaders’ opening try of the match. Earned one penalty at the breakdown but was also caught out for advancing in front of a kick. Quickly growing into a starting tighthead prop at this level. Off in 55th minute.

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4. Scott Barrett – 6
Like many of his teammates, you can credit his work on defence but there wasn’t a lot else to crow about. A step down from the physicality of last weekend. Took his two lineout deliveries.

5. Quinten Strange – 4
Struggled to have any significant impact on the game, only making six tackles and one carry. Pinged once for getting himself offside at the lineout. One of a number of players caught out for the Highlanders’ second try. Off in 59th minute.

6. Ethan Blackadder – 8.5
In a game that never really caught alight, Blackadder was perhaps the one bright spark. Topped the tackle count for the Crusaders with 24 to his name and was also the key lineout jumper. A reminder of what the 2021 All Blacks debutant is capable of.

 

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7. Tom Christie – 6
Put in his usual shift on defence and was the biggest metre-eater of the Crusaders forwards. Off in 62nd minute.

8. Cullen Grace – 7
Ever-willing on attack, often getting himself off the ground quickly for some solid back to back efforts. Chalked up 16 tackles throughout the match, including one or two stingers.

9. Mitchell Drummond – 6
Played his part when the forwards got rumbling in the first half. Didn’t put a foot wrong. Off in 52nd minute.

10. Richie Mo’unga – 5.5
In a game like this, probably needed to assert himself more as the Crusaders’ key shot-caller. Kicked all his goals. Stepped on the sideline when attempting a clearing kick – whoops. Couldn’t do anything to stop Andrew Makalio rampaging to the line early in the match.

11. George Bridge – 5
Had limited involvement – it wasn’t really a game for the outside backs. Took one high ball under pressure. Moments later, a good chase and tackle earned the Crusaders a turnover. Knocked on shortly before halftime when the Crusaders were on the attack. Off in 52nd minute.

12. David Havili – 7
Used to regularly hit the ball up in the midfield, as has become custom, despite the presence of a bigger, stronger body outside him. Made the most tacles of any back on the park with 15. Dipped, ducked and dived inside the Highlanders 22 to get his team some momentum en route to the Crusaders’ first try of the evening and then threw a nice short pass for Leicester Fainga’anuku for the team’s second. Also threw one dreadfully poor pass in the second half which handed possession over – although the Crusaders forwards instantly stole it back. Penalised once for getting offside.

13. Leicester Fainga’anuku – 6.5
Crashed through the tackle of Scott Gregory to score. Threw himself into countless breakdowns and was tidy in all aspects of his game.

14. Sevu Reece – 7
His biggest contribution was securing two important breakdown penalties in the final quarter to shut down two Highlanders skirmishes. Wanted to get involved but struggled to do so.

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15. Will Jordan – 6.5
Was well covered, even when gifted attacking ball from errant Highlanders kicks. It wasn’t a great opening quarter from one of the form players in the competition. Made the mistake of going on his own from the breakdown early, losing his support and losing possession at the ensuing breakdown, knocked on once from a high ball, and then copped a penalty for getting overzealous at the breakdown. Was safe as houses under the high ball for the remainder of the game. Nabbed another breakdown turnover this week after his three against the Chiefs, but knocked the ball on immediately.

Reserves:

16. Shilo Klein – 2
On in 67th minute. Rightly red-carded for a poor tackle attempt.

17. George Bower – 6
On in 52nd minute. Scrum lost its potency but Bower put in a strong defensive showing once on the park.

18. Tamaiti Williams – 6
On in 55th minute. Pinged for overextending at the scrum but then won one back moments later.

19. Zach Gallagher – 6.5
On in 59th minute. A solid cameo off the bench for the debutant lock, taking three lineouts. Penalised for getting offside.

20. Pablo Matera – 6
On in 62nd minute. Didn’t add huge impact but kept up the defensive standards.

21. Bryn Hall – 5
On in 52nd minute. Knocked the ball on at the base of the ruck when the Crusaders were hot on attack inside the 22. Unsurprisingly, couldn’t find his target when tasked with throwing the ball in once Klein left the park.

22. Fergus Burke – N/A
Unused.

23. Braydon Ennor – 5
On in 52nd minute. Didn’t get a touch on the ball.

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