Crusaders kicked off their 2020 Super rugby season with a 43-25 bonus point victory over the New South Wales Waratahs in Nelson.
The Crusaders outscored the Waratahs by six tries to three in the season opener which earned them the bonus point and provisionally puts them on top of the standings.
The Crusaders led 24-6 at half time but two tries from Mark Nawaqanitawase in the third quarter of the match brought the Sydney based side to within six points of the hosts.
The home side hit back almost immediately when Braydon Ennor slipped over from a 5m ruck which gave the Crusaders some breathing space.
Will Jordan crossed for his second try which got the Crusaders back into bonus point territory and then five minutes from time Luke Romano crashed over under the posts to put the result beyond doubt.
The Waratahs finished the scoring with a consolation try by Alex Newsome two minutes from full time.
The Crusaders and Waratahs were fairly equal in the opening quarter of the match as they traded penalties with David Havili and Will Harrison putting their sides on the scoreboard.
After the 16th minute, the Crusaders were at their most ruthless as Jordan, Ennor and Leicester Fainga’anuku all scored tries for the ten-time champions who have won the last three tournaments.
Richie Mo’unga and fellow All Blacks David Havili and Jack Goodhue frequently made the Waratahs pay at turnovers.
The Waratahs thought they had scored in the 29th minute but the TMO ruled that the ball had gone forward from Jake Gordon in the build-up.
The Waratahs had to wait until the 57th minute before they crossed the line which was Nawaqanitawase scored the first of his tries. Four minutes later he intercepted a lazy Crusaders pass and went in for his second try but the brace of tries seemed to spark the hosts into life and they pulled away.
Recently appointed Waratahs captain said that the match was a frustrating one for his side. “Yeah that was a really tough game tonight. (We are) Quite disappointed in that we created a lot of things, but we just couldn’t and they punished us on the turnovers,” said Simmons after the match.
Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said that he was pleased with not only the result but the way that his team had played.
“The boys turned up and the backs scored some nice tries,” said Barrett.
“We wanted to start well by setting the pace in this competition and we showed plenty of tactical endeavor there, but like (so often in the) first game of the season there were plenty of errors from both sides.”
Next week the Crusaders travel to Hamilton to take on the Chiefs while the Waratahs return to Australia where they will host the Blues at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.
Final Score Crusaders 43 (24) Waratahs 25 (6)
Tries – W.Jordan 2, B.Ennor 2, L. Faingaanuku, L.Romano
Pen – D.Havili
Con – D.Havili 6
Tries -M.Nawaqanitawase 2, A.Newsome
Pen – W.Harrison 2
Con -W.Harrison 2
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1:Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2:Dan Waenga
TMO :Shane McDermott
1. George Bower,2. Andrew Makalio,3. Oliver Jager,4. Scott Barrett (C),5. Mitchell Dunshea,6. Tom Sanders,7. Tom Christie,8. Whetukamokamo Douglas,9. Mitchell Drummond,10. Richie Mo’unga,11. Leicester Faingaanuku,12. Jack Goodhue,13. Braydon Ennor,14. Will Jordan,15. David Havili (VC)
Replacements : 16. Codie Taylor (VC),17. Isi Tu’ungafasi,18. Michael Alaalatoa,19. Luke Romano,20. Cullen Grace,.21. Bryn Hall,22. Brett Cameron,23. Sevu Reece.
Kurtley Beale, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Lalakai Foketi, Karmichael Hunt, Alex Newsome, Will Harrison, Jake Gordon, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons (capt), Tom Staniforth, Tetera Faulkner, Robbie Abel, Tom Robertson.
Replacements: Chris Talakai, Damien Fitzpatrick, Angus Bell, Ryan McCauley, Carlo Tizzano, Jack Dempsey, Mitch Short, Jack Maddocks.