Planet Rugby

Crusaders claim South Island thriller

24th May 2014 08:29

Share:

Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders is tackled by Highlanders

Outstanding: Nemani Nadolo

The Crusaders held on to edge the Highlanders 32-30 in an electrifying South Island derby at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday.

If you can watch rugby in heaven, this is the kind of game that should be on the TV!

Eight-tries - four apiece - and a breathtaking finish made for arguably the best Super Rugby clash of the season so far.

It could not have been closer as TMO Vinny Munro denied the home side a last-minute match-winning try when he ruled that the ball had hit the touchline and tryline simultaneously as wing Patrick Osborne dived into the corner. It's a decision that will long be debate and could have huge repercussions. In fairness it was a question of millimetres and could have gone either way.

The Highlanders led 12-10 at the interval thanks to tries from hooker Ged Robinson and Osborne after the Crusaders had opened the scoring through a Jordan Taufua try.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder had raised eyebrows by benching his All Black front row but his decision was vindicated when second-string props Tim Perry and Nepo Laulala both scored after the break to put the visitors in front.

Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo's try on the hour mark secured the bonus point and gave the visitors a healthy lead but the Highlanders bounced back again as centre Malakai Fekitoa and full-back Ben Smith touched down in the last quarter to set up a grandstand finish.

The Crusaders charged out of the blocks, hammering the Highlanders scrum and showing the intensity that was missing in last week's loss to the Sharks. Taufua crashed over from short range to cap a period of sustained pressure.

Indeed the visitors dominated the opening quarter but the momentum swung in the Highlanders' favour when Richie McCaw was yellow carded for cynically killing the ball.

With McCaw in the bin, the Highlanders got on the scoreboard as Robinson hit Aaron Smith's pass at pace to crash over.

Osborne bagged the Highlanders' second try shortly afterwards, beating four defenders down the touchline after a great offload by Fekitoa, who had another outstanding game.

The Crusaders hit back immediately after the break as Perry crashing over but Lima Sopoaga levelled the scores at 15-all going into the final half hour with a penalty.

Laulala scored the Crusaders' third with some smart close-quarters work after another barging run by Nadolo, who set up both tries for his props.

Israel Dagg was at the origin of try number four with some fancy footwork as he put Nadolo over in the corner.

Fekitoa found his way over out wide with another excellent try with 13 minutes left before Ben Smith crossed in the opposite corner after an eye-catching display of handling from the hosts.

The Highlanders were camped on the Crusaders line in the dying minutes until Osborne headed for the corner and left TMO Munro with a tough call.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Robinson, Osborne, Fekitoa, B. Smith
Cons: Sopoaga, Parker
Pens: Sopoaga, Parker

For Crusaders:
Tries: Taufua, Perry, Laulala, Nadolo
Cons: Slade 3
Pens: Slade 2
Yellow card: McCaw

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Sam Anderson-Heather, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Phil Burleigh.

Crusaders : 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Tom Taylor, 12 Ryan Crotty (c), 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 George Whitelock, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Adam Whitelock, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
Sunday , September 28
Exeter vs Harlequins14:00
Wasps vs Newcastle14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand23:10
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster15:00
Munster vs Ospreys18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
Saturday , September 27
Sharks vs Eastern Province Kings14:00
Pumas vs Western Province15:00
Griquas vs Lions15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle 10 - 35 NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Ospreys 62 - 13 EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets 43 - 0 Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39