Nonu shines on Highlanders debut

Date published: February 8 2013

New Highlanders centre Ma'a Nonu shone on his debut in a warm-up match against the Crusaders on Friday.

New Highlanders centre Ma'a Nonu shone on his debut for the Dunedin-based franchise in Friday's warm-up match against the Crusaders in Oamaru.

The 30-year-old, who is representing his third franchise after stints with the Blues and Hurricanes, had a busy game, scoring the game's opening try in his side's 38-21 victory.

Nonu combined well with Phil Burleigh in midfield and created several line breaks.

The All Blacks veteran's try came after he broke through a poor tackle by Israel Dagg who played out of position at centre for the Crusaders.

Highlanders full-back Buxton Popoali'i added another five-pointer for his side, in the first half, after running onto a pass from fly-half Lima Sopoaga.

This gave them a 12-0 lead but the Crusaders struck back with two converted tries from lock Luke Romano, before Hosea Gear scored another try which gave the hosts a 19-14 lead at half-time.

The Highlanders stepped up a gear after the break with Hayden Parker adding a brace of tries and Sopoaga also crossing the whitewash.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder rested first-choice players like captain Kieran Read, Dan Carter, Sam Whitelock and Owen Franks and it showed in their second half performance.

Their only try during that period was scored by Kieran Fonotia.

Nonu played for 65 minutes and fellow new recruits, lock Brad Thorn and loosehead prop Tony Woodcock left the field after the hour mark and 50 minutes respectively.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Parker 2, Nonu, Popoali'i, Gear, Sopoaga
Con: Sopoaga 2, Parker 2

For Crusaders:
Tries: Romano 2, Fonotia
Con: Taylor 2, Bleyendaal