Super Rugby’s leading team the Crusaders kick off the action on Saturday at home in Christchurch with a match against 2015’s Super Rugby champions the Highlanders.
The Crusaders have gone through 13 matches unbeaten while the Highlanders have won their last nine matches. One of these teams is going to lose their winning streak.
The Crusaders have played the Highlanders 30 times in Super Rugby since 1996 and they have won 20 matches and lost ten. There have been no draws.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: BEEP! BEEP! Referee Glen Jackson gets underway in Christchurch – Richie Mo’unga kicks off. The Highlanders are penalised for a dangerous tackle.
3.00: TRY Mitchell Drummond! The scrumhalf scores from close range after the Crusaders set up a driving maul from a lineout that came from the Malakai Fekitoa penalty.
4.00: Richie Mo’unga converts and the home side has an early lead.
6.00: Daniel Lienert-Brown loses the ball and the Crusaders release the pressure.
7.00: Both sides have started fast and are throwing the ball around.
10.00: Drummond kicks an up-and-under. Matt Faddes, on for Rob Thompson, does well. Jordan Taufua is penalised and Marty Banks kicks to touch.
11.00: Aaron Smith loses the ball forward and the Crusaders will get the scrum feed. Matt Todd starts a move with a little break, however, the Saders lose the ball and Ben Smith clears the danger. That was some good defending by the Highlanders.
14.00: TRY Seta Tamanivalu! Ryan Crotty started the attack with a break. The ball is shifted from Jack Goodhue – with a wonderful pass – to the wing, who crosses the whitewash for the Crusaders second try.
15.00: MISS! Mo’unga can’t add the extras.
17.00: The Highlanders win a penalty and opt for touch; the lineout is around the 22-metre line.
19.00: The Crusaders clear but Owen Franks is penalised for obstruction. The visitors kick for touch and will go to their lineout drive, inside the Crusaders’ 22.
21.00: The Highlanders have had some good moments in this match, but cannot find a way through their host’s defence.
24.00: YELLOW CARD Heiden Bedwell-Curtis! Crusaders loose forward Bidwell-Curtis is sent to the bin for hacking at the ball from offside.
25.00: The Highlanders decide to take a 5-metre scrum. The home team are under pressure here.
27.00: Great work by Codie Taylor, who wins the penalty at the breakdown. Before that, Luke Whitelock was smoked by Luke Romano. The hosts clear.
28.00: Malakai Fekitoa makes a break up the middle, is tackled about 10 metres out from the try-line. Highlanders come again, with a great attacking opportunity.
29.00: Scrum to the Highlanders in the Crusaders’ 22.
30.00: TRY Richard Buckman! Marty Banks sends the ball to Ben Smith, the fullback draws the defender and puts Buckman away for the score. It had been coming.
31.00: Banks adds the conversion.
33.00: The Crusaders are creaking and making too many mistakes. The Highlanders will look to exploit their host’s errors and get a lead before half-time. David Havili is penalised and the visitors kick for touch.
34.00: Ryan Crotty is penalised, now. The Highlanders will kick at goal.
36.00: PENALTY! Banks reduces the deficit to just two. That was a costly yellow card for the Crusaders.
38.00: TRY Heiden Bedwell-Curtis! The Crusaders attacked from deep, went through the phases before Jack Goodhue sends the flanker away for the try.
39.00: Mo’unga slots the conversion.
The half-time score was Crusaders 19 Highlanders 10
41.00: BEEP! BEEP! We are back and running in the second half.
42.00: Siate Tokolahi knocks on; scrum to the Crusaders.
43.00: TRY, no try, Aaron Smith! The scrumhalf scores after Rob Thompson’s intercept, however, after a TMO consultation, the centre’s foot was out in touch. Close call for the Crusaders.
44.00: Codie Taylor finds his jumper in Whitelock. Mo’unga then clears the ball into touch. Lineout Highlanders on the 10-meter line inside Crusaders territory.
46.00: TRY Waisake Naholo! Malakai Fekitoa kicks a wonderful chip-kick, George Bridge fumbles the ball and Waisake Naholo hacks the ball forward and dives on the ball to score.
47.00: Banks can’t add the extras.
50.00: TRY Waisake Naholo! It’s two in quick succession for the wing. The Crusaders had the ball inside the Highlanders’ 22, but a loose pass sees Naholo run 80 metres to give his team the lead.
52.00: Banks converts.
53.00: Aaron Smith’s box-kick is out on the full. The Crusaders are running everything, which is also putting them under pressure when they make a mistake.
55.00: The Crusaders are on the attack on the halfway line; Jordan Taufau, Jack Goodhue and George Bridge all attempt to break the Highlanders wall, but are stopped. This game is intense.
57.00: We are going through the usual period in games with scrum resets.
59.00: The home team is going through the phases, searching for another try to regain the lead, as the game enters the final quarter.
60.00: Bridge cleans the ball up for his side; Naholo rips the ball away, offloads to Thompson but it’s a forward pass and the Crusaders get the scrum.
63.00: It’s end-to-end between these two sides, both searching for the game-defining score. However, both defences have closed up shop and there seems to be no way through.
65.00: An unintentional knock down from Tom Franklin results in a scrum put to the Crusaders, close to the halfway line.
68.00: The Crusaders are penalised and Sopoaga kicks for touch from the penalty.
72.00: Aaron Smith feeds the scrum, plays Sopoaga, who attacks wide to Richard Buckman. It is adjudged that a forward pass was thrown by Fekitoa, so the home team will get the scrum.
74.00: The Crusaders win a free-kick, take it quickly and surge into the Highlanders’ territory. Eventually, they are awarded a penalty, and they will kick at goal.
76.00: PENALTY! Mitchell Hunt levels the scores with three minutes to play.
78.00: The Crusaders set up driving maul, rumble forwards, and are awarded a penalty. Wow. What a turn of events. Hunt will attempt the game-winning kick.
79.00: MISS! It’s wide! Oh no! The Highlanders breathe a sigh of relief. Now, can they win this New Zealand derby?
82.00: DROP-GOAL! Hunt kicks the game-winning score from 40 metres out. Stunning. What a kick! The Crusaders went through the phases and set up the standoff with some quality ball.
The final score after 80 minutes is Crusaders 25 (19) Highlanders 22 (10)
Tries – Drummond, Tamanivalu, Bedwell-Curtis
Pen – Hunt
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Drop – Hunt
Cards – Bedwell-Curtis (Yellow, 25th minute)
Tries – Buckman, Naholo (2)
Pen – Banks
Con – Banks (2)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Michael Winter
TMO: Glenn Newman
15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Israel Dagg.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Richard Buckman, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Matt Faddes