Crusaders run wild in South Island derby
PRE-SEASON REPORT: The seven-time Super Rugby champion Crusaders outplayed the Highlanders, winning 50-33 to claim the Farmlands Cup in Darfield on Saturday.
New Crusaders coach Scott Robertson saw his team outscore their South Island rivals by eight tries to five.
The Crusaders dominated possession and raced into a 19-0 lead and still held a 26-14 advantage at half-time.
They stretched that to 38-19 and then 50-26, before a late consolation score gave the Highlanders' scoreline a bit more respectability.
No.8 Jordan Taufua set the tine for the Crusaders with a bustling performance and looks like the man to stand in for All Black captain Kieran Read, who is recovering from wrist surgery and isn't expected to be available until early April.
Not many All Blacks featured in the hit-out and Robertson was obviously delighted with his team's performance in their first outing of the year.
"That was a very young group out there, it was just about guys showing some intensity and that is what they did a lot of ways," Robertson told stuff.co.nz.
"We saw some great tries, good skills and desperation in defence. It was a good mix."
New Highlanders coach Tony Brown will be a touch less satisfied, especially the poor their execution.
For the Highlanders:
Tries: Hammington, Franklin, Walden, Faddes, A Smith
Cons: F Smith 2, Banks 2
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Mataele, Hall 2, Goodhue, Tamanivalu, Bateman, Wainui, Bridge
Cons: Mo'unga 3, Hunt 2
Highlanders: 15 Jason Emery, 14 Fa'asiu Fuatai, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Adrian Smith, 1 Craig Millar.
Replacements: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Alex Ainley, Josh Dickson, Adam Knight, Dillon Hunt, Josh Renton, Marty Banks, Teihorangi Walden, Matt Faddes, Jona Nareki.
Crusaders: 15 Marty McKenzie, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua (captain), 7 Jed Brown, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Luke Romano, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: Nathan Vella, Andrew Makalio, Oliver Jager, Chris Gawler, Samu Tawake, Quinten Strange, Pari Pari Parkinson, Tom Christie, Whetu Douglas, Leon Fukofuka, Ereatara Enari, Mitchell Hunt, Sione Fifita, Tim Bateman, Seta Tamanivalu, Sean Wainui, Inga Finau.
Referee: Jamie Nutbrown/Mike Fraser (New Zealand)