Crusaders

Highlanders take Crusaders in record Super Rugby low

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The Highlanders earned their first win of the season when they inflicted a 6-0 defeat on the Crusaders in the lowest scoring match in the history of Super Rugby.


For the Crusaders, the defending champions, it was their third consecutive defeat and the second year in a row they have lost to their southern neighbours.


To add to their woes, the Crusaders also lost captain Richie McCaw who limped from the field with a knee injury late in the first half.


The low-scoring match, between two sides desperate for points, was marked by a lack of continuity and ingenuity from both sides.


In the first half there was not even a shot at goal and the first real opportunity for points came in the 62nd minute when Crusaders flyhalf Colin Slade lined up a 35 metre penalty from right in front. He missed.


It was left to his Highlanders opposite Daniel Bowden to start the scoring with a penalty in the 68th minute, and he landed a second a few minutes later to seal the outcome.


With the weather and playing surface ideal for rugby, the standard of play did not do justice to the conditions.


There were two records set in the match, the lowest score and the first time the Crusaders have been kept scoreless, but Highlanders captain Jimmy Cowan said the statistics were irrelevant.


“We had a clear mindset coming into tonight’s game and that was to win, to win at all costs. We didn’t care how we got it, and we managed to win 6-0, so we’ll take that.”


Cowan provided one of the few sparks to the Highlanders side as he returned after being injured in the first round, while the Crusaders backs struggled without the injured Casey Laulala and Leon MacDonald.


After a lacklustre first half, the game looked to be taking shape in the 55th minute when Crusaders centre Adam Whitelock showed a touch of class as he weaved his way through the Highlanders defence in a 30 metre run.


But the good work was undone when a Slade cross kick to unmarked runners on the flanks sailed into touch on the full.


When the Crusaders mounted a dangerous attack near the Highlanders line late in the game, the Highlanders were awarded a defensive free kick only for Cowan to repeat Slade’s error.


Even referee Ian Smith played his part in the uninspiring encounter when a Highlanders handed disrupted a Crusaders’ attack three minutes from time and Smith ruled a Crusaders’ knock on.


Sapa-AFP

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