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Watch: Crusaders dazzle as Will Jordan bamboozles Highlanders defence

By Sam Smith
Will Jordan. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Crusaders saved their best until last on Friday night, scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half against the Crusaders to remain unbeaten two rounds into Super Rugby Pacific.

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Scott Robertson’s men scored four tries throughout the match, with Sevu Reece dotting down twice and big replacement prop Tamaiti Williams crashing over for the bonus point try late in the game, but it was Will Jordan’s score in the 67th minute that helped shake off a dogged Highlanders side that was most memorable.

Jordan had an immense game, accumulating 78 metres on attack while constantly pegging the Highlanders back with some well-placed kicks. He had also helped set up Reece’s second try of the evening, running an excellent line once the ball was spun wide from a lineout drive, drifting outside the Highlanders defence before sending the ball out to Reece for a simple run-in to the line.

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Pablo Matera explains his decision to sign for the Crusaders.

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Pablo Matera explains his decision to sign for the Crusaders.

The try of Jordan’s own, however, was something else altogether.

The Crusaders began the attack inside their own half with replacement first five Simon Hickey sending the ball wide to last week’s hat-trick hero Leicester Fainga’anuku who, by his own standards, had a relatively quiet night up to that point.

Fainga’anuku headed towards the sideline and pushed through the tackles of Fetuli Paea and James Lentjes to give a superb offload out to George Bridge, who had recently come onto the field for Reece. Bridge, in space, zipped up the right wing, drew in Connor Garden-Bachop and passed the ball back in-field to Will Jordan on the Highlanders 10-metre line.

Jordan skipped past the tackles of Sam Gilbert and Gareth Evans and cut between reserve forwards Rhys Marshall and Marino Mikaele-Tu’u and while Marshall was able to keep hold of Jordan, he couldn’t stop the 24-year-old fullback from fighting his way across the try-line.

It was a try that required speed, skill and strength, and highlighted how dangerous Will Jordan can be with some front-foot ball.

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The Crusaders have scored nine tries over their opening two matches, winning 42-32 against the Hurricanes last weekend in Dunedin and finishing up 34-19 trumps in the same location against the Highlanders.

With just one game played in the second round of the Super Rugby Pacific season, the Crusaders top the ladder on nine competition points.

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Jon 1 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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