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Crusaders player ratings vs Highlanders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Ned Lester
Sevu Reece celebrates his try for the Crusaders. Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Both the Crusaders and Highlanders took the field in Melbourne eager to make amends for disappointing losses in round one.

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While the possession was even in the opening 40, the Crusaders dominated the territory game and even when they found themselves in their own half, they launched an epic full-field assault.

The Crusaders’ tackle count dropped by a full 100 tackles from last weekend’s match against the chiefs while the Highlanders leaked points and field position in a similar manner to their last outing against the Blues.

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Unfortunately for the Highlanders, the match again got away from them early and the Crusaders converted on most of their scoring opportunities throughout.

A telling stat was the Crusaders more than doubled the Highlanders’ run meters and two tries to midfielder Josh Timu in the closing minutes did little to salvage another rough scoreline for the Highlanders. Fulltime score: 52-15.

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Here’s how the Crusaders rated:

1. Joe Moody – 5.5

Collapsed in the game’s opening scrum and was uncharacteristically outmuscled in that area throughout the opening stages. A handling error looked to compound a poor opening period but he stepped up in the next scrum and won his side a penalty. Scored a try from a rolling maul to finish the first half. Looked as though he’d picked up an injury in that try to end the half but came out firing in the second half with huge carries contributing to Richie Mo’unga’s try.

2. Codie Taylor – 8

An infringement during a strong counter ruck gave the Highlanders the first points of the game. Every involvement Taylor has around the ruck is a huge positive for the Crusaders, his ability to pick it up and burst for a couple of meters gives his side forward momentum every time. An offload off such plays proves especially beneficial. Was a sure thing in the lineout and scored

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3. Tamaiti Williams – 6.5

Incurred an early penalty giving the Highlanders an attacking opportunity within the opening two minutes. Delivered a great pass in close quarters to set up Sevu Reece’s try.

4. Scott Barrett (c) – 8.5

Provides great sleight of hand in close exchanges on attack which unlocked the Highlanders’ defence and set up his players.

5. Sam Whitelock – 8

Whitelock’s presence could be felt as the Crusaders put in a more typical Crusaders performance. The 34-year-old hasn’t sacrificed an ounce of work ethic as his career has progressed, popping up at either end of the field in broken play as you might expect only a back to do. Sprinting even on the last play of the game to ensure the Highlanders get no more consolation points.

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Sured up the Crusaders’ lineout.

6. Ethan Blackadder – 8.5

Blackadder possesses a relentless work rate which consistently lands him in the right place at the right time. Physically imposes himself with every opportunity.

7. Tom Christie – 6

Christie’s defensive anticipation gave his side some front foot ball early. His limited attacking skillset got exposed on a number of occasions. He’s a unique player in the way he deserves to be regularly rated above an 8 for his defensive work but a 4 for his attacking contributions.

8. Christian Lio-Willie  – 8

Stole a lineout and showed good nouse in the set piece where the Crusaders had the upper hand. Last week, Lio-Willie’s defence was mightily impressive and this week it was his running game that stood out. A couple of handling errors but overall a very positive impact and was right at home in the starting unit.

9. Mitchell Drummond – 5.5

Drummond had a poor outing in round one and improved marginally in round two. The halfback still looked hesitant in some deliveries and took a few steps with the ball when a direct pass would’ve been more beneficial. Replaced early in the second half.

10. Richie Mo’unga – 8.5

Showed a more assertive kicking game, pinning the Highlanders to the sideline in the early kicking contests. An electric run down the sideline was the piece of Richie magic we missed last week and set up Fergus Burke for his try. Landed seven conversions and drove his team around the park expertly.

11. Leicester Fainga’anuku – 7.5

Limited opportunities to impose himself but sure took his opportunity to score under the posts by bouncing off a number of Highlanders players.

12. David Havili – 9

The physicality of Havili’s opposite, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, was more than a handful for the All Black. Both men won their defensive collisions but Umaga-Jensen proved his X-factor strength had a bigger impact on the match while Havili’s limited opportunities putting boot to ball evened the scorecards.

Started the second half with a nifty kick to put Mo’unga over for the try and secured a turnover shortly after. Spotted a gap and ran the perfect line to put himself over in the 48th minute.

13. Jack Goodhue – N/A

Off early.

14. Sevu Reece – 7.5

Reece was his typically enthused self every time he had ball in hand, finishing the opening try with the burst of pace needed. Showcased a strong kicking game, contributing well to the Crusaders’ dominance in territory.

15. Fergus Burke – 7

A great line in support and a burst of pace to finish a superb try 20 minutes into the match. As expected, Mo’unga handled much of the backfield play and Burke’s boot was rarely employed. Overall a quiet but solid performance.

 

Replacements:

 

16. Brodie McAlister  – 7

17. George Bower – 7.5

The second unit had the scrum firing and the ball came through quickly for debutant halfback Noah Hotham, Bower contributed well to both aspects of the game.

18. Seb Calder – 7

19. Zach Gallagher – 7.5

20. Sione Havili Talitui – 8

Solid on both sides of the ball, proved a great impact player.

21. Noah Hotham – 8.5

Very impressive deliveries from the young halfback. Eager to snipe around the ruck and his few attempts to do so produced positive opportunities.

22. Braydon Ennor – 8

On early for an injured Jack Goodhue and injected himself well with a good kick-through and burst of pace. Had multiple moments where his crisp passing amplified attacking opportunities. His defensive instincts are very Crusaders-esque and often surprises with his physicality.

23. Macca Springer – 8

Would have been glad to be on the receiving end of some cleaner ball after a scrappy debut last week. Made good meters in some tight spaces down the wing.

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