Crusaders edge Highlanders in pre-season thriller
PRE-SEASON REPORT: The Crusaders edged the Highlanders 43-38 in a thrilling Super Rugby pre-season encounter in Southbridge on Friday.
Both teams were missing a number of All Blacks for the match, but that didn’t stop both teams turning on the style.
The Crusaders went into the half-time break leading 14-7 after tries from Tim Batemen and Jordan Taufua. The Highlanders opened the scoring with a try from Liam Coltman.
The second half was very much a see-saw affair with both teams taking the lead at various stages.
The Highlanders were leading 38-31 with minutes left on the clock and it looked like they were going to have bragging rights over their South Island rivals.
However, the Crusaders staged a light fightback with Mitchell Dunshea crashing over with three minutes left on the clock.
Will Jordan completed then broke the Highlanders fans’ hearts when he scored in the last minute.
The match was the last pre-season hit-out for both teams ahead of this year’s Super Rugby tournament.
The Highlanders open their campaign with a tough assignment against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday, February 15.
The Crusaders also have a tricky first assignment against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday, February 16.
Tries: Sanders 2, Bateman, Taufua, Mataele, Dunshea, Jordan
Cons: Hunt 2, Havili, Burke
Tries: Tomkinson 2, Coltman, Lentjes, Fakatava, McKay
Cons: Ioane 3, Gatland
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas (captain), 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements – from: Harry Allan, Andrew Makalio, George Bower, Mitchell Dunshea, Ethan Blackadder, Tom Sanders, Bryn Hall, Ereatara Enari, Brett Cameron, Leicester Faingaanuku, Ngane Punivai, Will Jordan.
Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19 Maanaki Selby-Rickett, 20 Dillon Hunt, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Teihorangi Walden, 24 Jack Whetton.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Jamie Nutbrown, James Munro