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Moana Pasifika player ratings vs Crusaders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Tom Vinicombe
Levi Aumua. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Few would have expected the ferocity and accuracy on defence that characterised Moana Pasifika’s introduction to Super Rugby, with the competition’s new boys fronting up early to frustrate the Crusaders in Dunedin on Friday night.

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Having not played a match in over three weeks, many anticipated a thrashing under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium but Moana Pasifika had other ideas and held off wave after wave of attack from the red and black machine and eventually scored the game’s opening try.

While the Crusaders eventually managed to secure a bonus-point 33-12 win, Moana Pasifika maintained their standards throughout the match.

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Roger Tuiavasa-Sheck’s debut for the Blues understandably turned a few heads.
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Roger Tuiavasa-Sheck’s debut for the Blues understandably turned a few heads.

How did the Moana Pasifika players rate in the performance?

1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth – 5
1 try assist. Threw the last pass for Moana Pasifika’s first try but couldn’t compete in the set-piece. Pinged on more than one occasion at scrum time and generally struggled against a comparatively inexperienced opponent. Persevered for the bulk of the match, to his credit. Off in 66th minute.

2. Luteru Tolai – 6
Slipped off the tackle of George Bridge early in the second quarter which created the line break leading up to the Crusaders’ first try. Hit only half of his lineout targets – but not all that responsibility falls on his shoulders. Used exclusively on defence, given he left the field before Moana Pasifika were able to accumulate any possession. Off in 45th minute.

3. Sekope Kepu – 5.5
One of a number of Moana Pasifika forwards to hit double-figures on the tackle count before halftime and had 13 from 13 when he departed the pitch but made zero carries throughout his time on the field. Off in 45th minute.

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4. Mike McKee – 5.5
A prominent target at lineout time but out-muscled by his opposition jumpers. Penalised for a fairly innocuous off-the-ball hit on George Bower when Moana Pasifika were defending their 22.

5. Samuel Slade – 7
One of the best at disrupting Crusaders ball. Great maul defence when Moana Pasifika were under pressure to keep the Crusaders out and turn over the ball. Put in a big tackle and stripped the ball off the Crusaders moments later.

6. Solomone Funaki – 7
Worked hard on defence but overshadowed by some of his teammates. Did well to fight his way over the line for Moana Pasifika’s first-ever try and was generally the most punishing of Moana Pasifika’s forwards on attack. Off in 59th minute then back on in 74th minute.

 

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7. Alamanda Motuga – 7.5
Put in a nice two-man tackle with Henry Time-Stowers in the first set of phases of the match to set an early tone for the D-line. A very industrious effort on defence in the first quarter when his side was under pressure and finished with 19 tackles to his name. Off in 62nd minute.

8. Henry Time-Stowers – 8
Crucial on both attack and defence. Made one dominant tackle alongside Motuga early in the show and worked well with his fellow loose forwards to shut down much of the Crusaders’ early attack. Great work off the back of a ropey defensive Moana Pasifika scrum shortly before halftime to churn through a few Crusaders defenders and set up a good platform for a clearance. One of a handful of players caught out by Richie Mo’unga’s second-half kick-off that eventually resulted in a try to the Crusaders. Topped the tackle count with 24.

9. Ereatara Enari – 6.5
Mixed the good with the bad. A solid kicking option throughout but didn’t always deliver the ball up to his teammates on a platter. Knocked the ball on after a good clear-out from Tima Fainga’anuku, ensuring the Crusaders’ dominance in possession early. Nice support work in the build-up to Moana Pasifika’s first try. Threw a dire pass in the 33rd minute which instantly turned over possession. Asked questions of the Crusaders’ ruck defence once or twice during the match. Made the cardinal error of ignoring some very clear instructions from the referee at maul time, handing possession over to the Crusaders for not using the ball. Off in 68th minute.

10. Lincoln McClutchie – 7.5
Showed off his wide palette of skills. Set up Moana Pasifika’s first try with a great linebreak then found his support runners. Always looked incisive in his few opportunities with the ball in hand. Put in a nice chip kick for wing Neria Foma’i to chase in the second half. Probably needed to kick better out of hand. Made one poor defensive read at the death of the match but recovered to ankle-tap the ball-runner.

11. Neria Foma’i – 5
Had few opportunities in the first half but didn’t feature prominently after halftime either. Need to come off his wing more.

12. Danny Toala – 8.5
Showed his class. Busy on defence in the early stages of the game and was Moana Pasifika’s most damaging weapon on attack. Forced a couple of turnovers either side of the 20-minute mark. His time with the Hurricanes has served him well. Off in 62nd minute.

13. Levi Aumua – 7
Good support work early to keep the scoring opportunity alive from McClutchie’s break. Made a nice tackle and strip on his opposite to shut down a wide-ranging Crusaders attack then rushed up inside the Moana Pasifika 22 to force a knock-on from Kini Naholo moments later. Some nice work at the breakdown throughout. Off in 57th minute.

14. Tima Fainga’anuku – 7
Missed Naholo, putting his side under a moment of pressure. Put in a well-time hit after halftime to dislodge the ball from George Bridge’s grasp. Like his teammates, thrived with a bit of extra attacking ball in the second half, whether in space or in contact, and never shirked away from the defensive effort.

 

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15. William Havili – 5
Relatively ineffective at fullback, though was given few chances on attack. Dropped a high ball to start off the second half but took a tough one under pressure from Naholo later in the half.

Reserves:

16. Sam Moli – 6
On in 45th minute. His first three lineout deliveries sailed over the top – but two of those were planned, at the very least. Couldn’t hit his target when Moana Pasifika had an attacking opportunity on the Crusaders’ 5-metre line but found his eye shortly after and ultimately finished as the more consistent of the side’s two hookers.

17. Tau Koloamatagi – N/A
On in 66th minute.

18. Joe Apikotoa – 6.5
On in 45h minute. Scrum shored up somewhat following his introduction and got involved with trucking the ball up on attack.

19. Alex McRobbie – 5.5
On in 59th minute. Worked well to stay in touch with Fine Inisi following his linebreak but needed to run a wider support line. Left the field with an injury in the 74th minute.

20. Jack Lam – 6
On in 62nd minute. Knocked the ball on with his first touch but helped maintain the continuity on attack but hitting plenty of rucks.

21. Jonathan Taumateine – 6.5
On in 68th minute. Added some great impetus off the bench, made one solid line break near the end of the match.

22. Christian Leali’ifano – 6
On in 62nd minute. Wasn’t necessarily an ‘impact’ sub but a calm head in the midfield helped the late-game consistency.

23. Fine Inisi – 7
On in 57th minute. Made a nice break up the middle early in the final quarter but probably needed to work better with his support for what should have been a relatively simple two-on-one. Made the most of some loose play from the Crusaders to score in the 68th minute.

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