The Hurricanes travelled to the champions’ lair for their second game of the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season. Of course, they tasted success last year against the Crusaders at the venue, so they would’ve felt some confidence.

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They certainly looked sure of themselves after leading 6-0 at the end of the first quarter. Then the wheels fell off after Ardie Savea received a yellow card and the Crusaders piled on the points for a 20-point half time lead. The Canes fought gainfully in the second half but the damage had been done. Final score? 33-16 to the Crusaders.

Here’s how the Hurricanes rated.

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Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons look back at the Crusaders win over the Highlanders and analyse Tony Brown’s comments about the high penalty count which he felt had an impact on the outcome of the game.

1. Fraser Armstrong – 4/10
Not an inspiring outing from the Hurricanes prop. Had a perplexed look waiting for another scrum as Codie Taylor quick tapped and crossed for the first Crusaders try. Poor read in defence 6 minutes later led to Mo’unga’s try. Conceded another free kick in the 45th minute at a scrum just before he was subbed out.

2. Asafo Aumua – 6
Fancied his chances in the wide channels but was well looked after by the champion’s defence. Big tackle count and got back really well on cover defence a couple of times but was outplayed by the sensational Codie Taylor. Hopefully it’s just a stinger after going off injured in the 44th.

3. Tyrel Lomax – 6
Looked up for work early on with some big runs and hits in the first minutes. Solid in the scrum against Joe Moody. Dropped a ball at the 53rd minute. Off at 66.

4. James Blackwell – 6.5
They could make an action figure out of this guy. Carries, tackles and good in the contact. Solid at the lineout although a couple of sloppy deliveries early.

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5. Isaia Walker-Leawere – 6
A big assignment against two All Black locks but he didn’t look out of place. Good lineout work and got around the paddock. Loves the smash and bash of contact. At the 17th minute, managed a cheeky test of Mo’unga’s knee after missing a charge down. Off at 73.

6. Reed Prinsep – 4
It’s never easy being a 6 against a physically dominant tight 5 but you’d expect more from a senior player. Committed the penalty that led to the rolling maul that eventuated in the Codie Taylor try. Didn’t react at all to that quick tap. Didn’t adjust in defence when Codie Taylor took advantage of a huge gap for the Mo’unga try. Penalty conceded for line out contact in the air. At 46 minutes he couldn’t take the lineout ball that allowed Taylor his second try. His best period was with ball in hand from 50 minutes on. Off at 64.

7. Du’Plessis Kirifi – 7
No doubting his determination and he was disciplined this week which makes him such a much more valuable player. A lineout take at the 24th minute. Led the comeback with a match-high tackle count, bone-jarring hits and a turnover in the second half.

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8. Ardie Savea – 6
Showed why he’s one of the most dynamic loose forwards in the world with magnificent play in the 16th minute. A run through the middle of a breakdown and an amazing cross-kick. At the 19th minute saved a maul try but received a yellow card. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time but perhaps not after 21 points in the ten minutes he was off. Toiled in the second half but we haven’t seen the leg drive through tackles for a while.

9. Jonathan Taumateine – 5.5
Looks like a good prospect who gets around the field at speed. Good reflexes to snap up a loose ball in 6th minute. He posted a poor kick in the 16th minute that cost his team 80 metres but to be fair to him, he tracked back to get the Canes out of trouble. Ten good tackles in the first forty but off at halftime. If it’s another halfback injury, it’s a real blow.

10. Jackson Garden-Bachop – 5
Good exit and read at the back in the first minute. A poor pass into space by Goodhue in the 11th minute had the chance to show off his speed and probably surprised a few by getting his trotters pumping to almost get to the line but chased down while looking for support. Off at halftime.

11. Julian Savea – 6
The Crusaders showed no fear at taking on the big Canes ball carriers, perhaps Julian’s best play was in the air with some great catching skills with the first kick-off receipt and an awesome overhead catch in the backfield. Good skills in the air for the Umaga-Jensen try in the closing stages.

12. Ngani Laumape – 5.5
When Laumape is on his game he’s a match-winner. Jason Holland and his team will be searching for how to turn off the passive button. The dropped ball at 66 minutes seemed to bring out the Hulk in him and he ended the game well, top yards for his team but the game had been decided.

13. Peter Umaga-Jensen – 5.5
When you come in for a start in the second match of the season to show off your tackle busting ability, you’d be pulling your ponytail out if it took 62 minutes to get your hands on ball. Johnny on the spot after an attack for the final try at 78th minute.

14. Wes Goosen – 4.5
Goosen has made his name for his golden finishing in the last few years but he’s been lucky to finish his half time orange in the first two games of the year. Missed a tackle at 44 but has had his hands full against two strong running 11s in both games this year. Off at 57.

15. Jordie Barrett – 7.5
In the 5th minute showed, one of his greatest values, the long-range penalty. Aggressive in everything he does and brave like you’d have to be as a Barrett backyard veteran. The swooping dive on the 66th minute to save a try was typical Jordie stuff. He made the move to 10 in the 2nd half but struggled to distribute in tight spaces and time his passing.

Reserves:

16. Ricky Riccitelli – 4.5
On at 44 and his first action was to overthrow to the line out and present the Crusaders with a perfect 2nd half start. Redeemed himself slightly by shooting off a maul to score but two more lineout errors

17. Xavier Numia – 6.5
On at 46 and looked perky. Scrummed well and some good runs. Worth a start next outing?

18. Tevita Mafileo – N/A
On at 66 and solid.

19. Liam Mitchell – N/A
On at 73rd.

20. Devan Flanders – 7
On at 64 and underlined his potential. A brilliant run in 75th minute where he wrestled his way through the Crusader’s wall. Surely worth another start?

21. Luke Campbell – 6
On at 40 and was solid.

22. Billy Proctor – 5
On at 40 and looked up for it. No real needle-moving moments though.

23. Salesi Rayasi – 7
On at 57 impressed straight away with some intent. However, it turned into a yo-yo outing for the talented wing with a couple of whoopsies. One thing you can’t deny is his pace and elusiveness. Surely worth a start.

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