WATCH: Leicester Fainga’anuku’s brilliant try sets up Crusaders’ victory over Blues

David Skippers
Leicester Fainga'anuku Crusaders v Blues SRP Final 2022 - PA.jpg

Crusaders flyer Leicester Fainga’anuku caught the eye with an outstanding try in his team’s 34-28 victory over the Blues in their Super Rugby Pacific derby in Auckland on Saturday.

With the score 24-21 in their favour, the Crusaders were under the cosh close to the try-line but managed to regain possession after excellent counter-rucking from their forwards.

The ball came out to Richie Mo’unga, who launched a cross-field kick which Fainga’anuku gathered from under the nose of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on the Crusaders‘ 10-metre line.

Fainga’anuku then set off towards the Blues‘ try-line and Tuivasa-Sheck gave chase but the Crusaders wing shrugged off the Blues centre with a powerful fend before outpacing the cover defence on his way over the whitewash.

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The rest of the match was a tightly contested affair in which momentum between the sides ebbed and flowed throughout. In the end, the Crusaders outscored their hosts by five tries to four, with Fainga’anuku leading the way with a hat-trick of five-pointers.

The Blues were fastest out of the blocks when Mark Telea showed his class with a superb attack from inside his half, before scoring the opening try in the eighth minute and Beauden Barrett slotted the conversion to give them a 7-0 lead.

The Crusaders struck back with a couple of tries in quick succession from Fergus Burke and Ethan Blackadder and Mo’unga added one conversion which meant they held a 12-7 lead by the 22nd minute.

Five minutes later, the Blues regained the lead when Caleb Clarke crossed the whitewash with Barrett adding the extras and the home side were soon up 21-12 after Tuivasa-Sheck went over for another converted try in the 28th minute.

Despite those scores, the Crusaders did not panic and made a strong finish to the half. Fainga’anuku then scored two tries soon after each other, with Mo’unga succeeding with one conversion, which meant the visitors held a slender 24-21 lead at half-time.

The All Black sealed his hat-trick with that moment of brilliance in the 46th minute and Mo’unga’s conversion gave the Crusaders a 31-21 lead.

The Blues needed a response and that came in the 55th minute when Stephen Perofeta scored their fourth try, with Barrett’s two-pointer off the kicking tee narrowing the gap to three points.

The final quarter was a frantic affair as both sides tried to secure the result and a Mo’unga penalty in the 65th minute was enough for the Crusaders to clinch their win.

Video credit: Stan Sport

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