Super Rugby

Crusaders beat Highlanders in Christchurch




The Crusaders have played the Highlanders 38 times in Super Rugby since 1996, and the Crusaders have won 26 matches, lost 11 times and drawn once.

The Crusaders’ 26 wins give them a record of winning 68% of their matches against the Highlanders regardless of venue.

Match detail

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1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway at a glorious Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, where the three-time defending Super Rugby champions are looking to wrap up the inaugural Super Rugby Aotearoa title with a game to spare.

2.00: TRY! Shannon Frizell, taking Aaron Smith’s deft pass, opens the scoring after George Bridge got isolated and lost possession inside his 22. What a start! 0-5

3.00: CONVERSION! Josh Ioane adds the extras. 0-7

5.00: Great start for co-skipper Ash Dixon, who is playing in his 100th Super Rugby match. He will be looking to lead his team to a first win in Christchurch since 2015.

7.00: The Highlanders have started like a house on fire. The Saders are under the pump; they have turned over possession a couple of times and cannot get out of their half.

9.00: Richie Mo’unga puts in a pin-point kick behind to pin the visitors inside their 22 after Joe Moody won a bouncing ball following Bryn Hall’s box-kick; however, the Landers win the penalty after the lineout.

11.00: Scrum to the Otago outfit after Quinten Strange knocked-on a contested lineout.

12.00: Aaron Smith snipes down the blindside and grubbers the ball into touch by the Crusaders’ 10m.

13.00: TRY! Sensational try by the champs. Sevu Reece finds space down the righthand touchline and charges into the oppositions half before finding Hall on his inside. Hall plays a quick pass to the supporting Bridge, who sends Mo’unga away under the posts. WOW! 5-7

15.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga converts his try. 7-7

18.00: Aaron Smith kicks out on the full. Oh, dear!

19.00: The visitors win a penalty. Ioane calls for the tee.

20.00: MISS! The stand-off’s kick shades the post but is no good. 7-7

22.00: PENALTY! Ioane doesn’t miss this time. 7-10

24.00: TRY! Against the run of play, Jona Nareki intercepts Sam Whitelock’s pass and the winger races 75 metres, outsprinting Reece, to score in the corner. WOW! 7-15

26.00: CONVERSION! Ioane slots the touchline kick. 7-17

28.00: The Saders win a kickable penalty inside the opposition’s 22.

29.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga makes no mistake. 10-17

32.00: The Crusaders are building from their 22, keeping the ball in hand; however, after nine phases, the Highlanders win possession before conceding a penalty for a ruck infringement.

33.00: Mo’unga boots the ball to the Landers’ 22.

35.00: The home team’s forwards rumbled their opponents backwards but they lose possession at the ruck and the Highlanders counter-attack. The move ends when the ball is kicked into touch. The Saders go quickly before winning a penalty at the breakdown.

36.00: Dixon wins a penalty to save his side, who were under the pump inside their 22.

39.00: Another counter-attack from Smith’s wayward kick sees Bridge and Jack Goodhue go close. The Crusaders win the penalty and Mo’unga calls for the tee.

41.00: PENALTY! The 25-year-old stand-off cuts the gap to four as the teams go into the shed. 13-17

The halftime score was Crusaders 13 Highlanders 17

41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in the sunshine at Orangetheory Stadium as the Crusaders look to mount a come-from-behind victory to win Super Rugby Aotearoa.

44.00: Ennor thinks he’s away after picking up and darting through the ruck; however, the centre was accidentally offsides.

46.00: TRY SAVING TACKLE! Josh McKay chases down Hall, who drops the ball over the line when it looked easier to score. The attack came from a no-look pass from Mo’unga to Will Jordan, but the scrumhalf could not finish.

49.00: Both teams starting to make the changes.

50.00: The Crusaders finally steal a lineout and launch an attack from halfway. They go wide to Reece, who skips out of a tackle and keeps play alive. The home team’s ball retention is superb, but Jeff Thwaites wins his side a reprieve at the ruck.

53.00: The Highlanders, who often fade in the last 20 minutes, are standing with their hands on their hips, above their heads, and are blowing gales. It will concern Mauger and the supporters who remember what happened at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

54.00: TRY! Ioane steps a defender and goes close. The Saders give away a penalty-advantage, Smith plays on before Michael Collins crashes through two defenders to score his side’s third of the afternoon. 13-22

56.00: MISS! The kick is no good. 13-22

58.00: The Crusaders lose their attacking lineout, on the Highlanders’ 5m, and the visitors clear. The pressure is mounting as the game enters the last quarter.

62.00: TRY! Bridge finishes off a sweeping attack after the Highlanders fail to clean their lines. Goodhue sucked in two defenders, popped to Jordan, who drew his man and sent Bridge away in the corner. Game on! 18-22

63.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga splits the uprights. 20-22

65.00: TRY! Bridge has another after a stunning counter-attack after the restart that saw the hosts go down the field to score. Mo’unga and Jordan combined – again – for Bridge’s second of the day. 25-22

66.00: YELLOW CARD! Sio Tomkinson is sin-binned for an off-the-ball foul play. 25-22

66.00: MISS! Mo’unga’s kick is wide. 25-22

70.00: The highlanders go close, but Mo’unga saves the day, winning a penalty at the ruck.

75.00: TRY! Game OVER! Mo’unga takes the ball to the gain-line and sends Ennor in for the game-winner! 30-22

76.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga adds the extras. 32-22

79.00; The Crusaders will be champions yet again, they are running down the clock.

81.00: TURNOVER inside their 22, and the ball is cleared to touch.


Congratulations! The Crusaders are champions of New Zealand! 

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The final score is Crusaders 32 (13) Highlanders 22 (17)


Tries – Mo’unga, Bridge (2), Ennor
Pen – Mo’unga (2)
Con – Mo’unga (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Frizell, Nareki, Collins
Pen – J. Ioane
Con – J. Ioane (2)
Drop –
Cards – Tomkinson (Yellow, 66′)

Match Officials
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Ben O’Keeffe



15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Leicester Fainga’anuku


15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone

Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Ngane Punivai, 23 Jesse Parete

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