Highlanders beat Crusaders
Oamaru: The Highlanders didn’t make the Crusaders too welcome in their Super Rugby friendly in Oamaru, winning 40-12. The Highlanders ran in six tries to two in a excellent performance in front of around 3200 people on a damp Whitestone Contracting Stadium surface. The Crusaders were keen to play a high speed game earlier, but conditions and a tough Highlanders defence made it difficult and as the game wore on the Highlanders took control. The Highlanders drew first blood after 11 minutes when second five-eighth Rob Thompson fended off his opposite to go in under the posts from a 5m scrum, giving Marty Banks the simplest conversion.
The Highlanders got their first real opportunity after Crusaders fullback Marty McKenzie had a kick charged down on halfway and the southerners pounced. Midway through the half open side flanker Matt Todd got Crusaders level when he took a quick tap from 5m out and burrowed his way over adjacent the upright and Richie Mo’unga added the extras. The Crusaders’ field position came from a superb 30m run by left wing Nemani Nadolo, who brushed of Highlanders defenders off until he was pulled down at the 22m. The Highlanders went straight back on attack after another McKenzie error gave them the ball back and centre Jason Emery, back in the blue jersey for the first time since his red card against the Sharks, forced his way over from close range. Banks’ conversion gave the Highlanders a 14-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the half. The second half saw a raft of substitutions from both sides, with the Highlanders making five and Crusaders three, and they rolled on throughout the second half. Former New Zealand under-20s centre Jack Goodhue, who has spent a year overcoming a serious knee injuries, got his first opportunity for the Crusaders while lock Tom Franklin, released from the All Blacks squad, came on for the Highlanders. Scorers: Highlanders 40 (Rob Thompson, Jason Emery, Ryan Tongia, Te Aihe Toms, Fa’asoi Fuatai, Fletcher Smith try, Marty Banks 4 con, Smith con) beat Crusaders 12 (Nemani Nadolo, Mitchell Hunt try, Richie Mo’unga con).