Super Rugby

Crusaders beat Highlanders in Dunedin




The Crusaders have won nine of their last 10 completed Super Rugby matches against the Highlanders (L1), including their last six in succession.

The last and only time they won more in succession against the Dunedin-based side was a seven-match span from February 2002 to April 2007.

  • The Crusaders have won 10 of their last 11 completed Super Rugby matches (L1), despite trailing at halftime on the day in four of the last five games in that span.
  • The Crusaders have scored the first try on the day in six of their last seven Super Rugby away matches; they have gone on to win the last four games in that span.
  • The Crusaders led Super Rugby Aotearoa for points scored (31), metres gained (475), defenders beaten (28), and offloads (11) per game in 2020.
  • Aaron Smith made six try assists in Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020, two more than any other player.

Match detail

We are waiting for the kick-off.

In the meantime, why not have a look at the match preview.

1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway in Round One of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

3.00: The Highlanders win a penalty after Jack Regan and Joe Moody are involved in some handbags. The TMO feels there is nothing in it, the referee Ben O’Keeffe agrees. Landers kick to the corner.

5.00: Sevu Reece kicks the ball out on the full after the Crusaders won a turnover on their line — nothing changes. The hosts win a free-kick from the next phase of attack before the visitors win a scrum-penalty on Highlanders ball.

8.00: Both teams conceding turnovers as they look to keep the ball in hand. The Saders’ scrum wins another scrum-penalty, the Landers are struggling early on at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

10.00: Solomon Alaimalo intercepts Bryn Hall’s loose lob-pass, which cost the defending champions a certain try. From the next phase of play, the home team earned a penalty.

13.00: TRY! Codie Taylor opens the scoring! The hooker takes Sam Whitelock’s deft pass and breaking the line to run 40 metres and score under the posts. That was poor from the Highlanders’ defence, missing a simple first-time tackle on Taylor. 0-5

14.00: CONVERSION! Richie Mo’unga, stranded on 99 points in last year’s tournament, slots the kick. 0-7

16.00: The Crusaders have a midfield lineout.

17.00: TRY! Sensational score from the defending champs! They use a double-decoy switch move in midfield from the lineout before going wide to Reece. The winger hooks a brilliant banana kick into the 22, and Bryn Hall latches onto the rolling ball to score next to the posts. Stunning try! 0-12

18.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga adds another two. 0-14

21.00: Ash Dixon knocks-on inside the ‘Red Zone’; however, the ref blows for two offside penalties at the ruck — Mr. O’Keeffe is not having the infringements and is using the new laws to perfection. The defending players have to be clearly onside or they will be penalised. The Highlanders kick to the corner.

23.00: YELLOW CARD! Ethan Blackadder strays offsides and is sent to the naughty step. 0-14

24.00: Dixon opts for another lineout. You cannot beat the Crusaders with threes, especially when you are down two scores. Another penalty following a cross-kick that is lost forward sees the hosts win a scrum on the opposition’s five-metre line.

26.00: TRY! Shannon Frizell steps inside Codie Taylor’s tackle to get the Highlanders on the scoreboard. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u broke off the scrum and surged toward the line, carrying two defenders with him. Aaron Smith, taking the quick ball, switches play to the left, sending a bullet-pass to Frizell. The No 8, standing on the touchline, cut inside to score. 5-14

28.00: MISS! Mitch Hunt pulls his kick just past the left-hand post. 5-14

32.00: The Highlanders cannot take advantage of the spaces in the defensive-line, despite having the extra player.

35.00: Billy Harmon gets low and over the ball, saving the day for his team after Moody’s midfield break took the visitors into the home team’s 22.

36.00: TRY! YES, BOY! Connor Garden-Bachop races down the sideline after Jona Nareki’s scything line-break on the right-hand side of his side’s half. That’s just what the doctor ordered for Tony Brown’s charges. 10-14

38.00: MISS! Hunt cannot hit the target from the sideline. 10-14

40.00: Brown’s men are full of confidence now. They are going through the phases inside the Crusaders’ half, and are looking for more points before the break.

41.00: Nothing comes of the last attack, but after an early set-back, the Highlanders are back in this game.

The Halftime score was Highlanders 10 Crusaders 14

41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in Dunedin.

43.00: PENALTY! Hunt reduces the gap to one with his first accurate kick of the night. 13-14

45.00: Crusaders still dominating the set-pieces; they also look dangerous every time they go wide.

47.00: The Saders win a penalty and kick to the corner.

48.00: TRY! Codie Taylor’s sublime offload on the touchline sees Reece finish, under pressure from Siate Tokolahi’s cover tackle, inside the corner flag. Stunning finish by the winger. 13-19

49.00: MISS! Mo’unga’s kick is wide. 13-19

53.00: Both coaches have wrung the changes; however, the pace and intensity have not dropped despite this being the opening game of the season.

55.00: Two knock-ons, one from both teams, slows the game down for a bit. Scrum to the visitors inside their half.

57.00: A third handling error by the champions gives possession to the hosts, who win a kickable penalty after a lineout infringement by the Saders’ jumpers. Highlanders, instead, decide to go to the corner. Brave call, but the right one.

59.00: A poor line out by Brown’s men. A skew throw negates Taylor’s knock-on, and a chance goes begging. A rest scrum leads to another penalty as the visitors’ pack destroys their opposition.

62.00: MISS! Mo’unga’s drop-kick sails wide, but the Crusaders had the penalty advantage for a side entry and offside infringement.

63.00: Mo’unga calls for the tee.

63.00: MISS! The first-five pulls his kick well wide of the sticks. A let-off for the South Islanders. 13-19

66.00: Mo’unga gets across to save the day, carrying Josh Ioane’s grubber into touch — 5m attacking lineout to the hosts.

67.00: NO TRY! Sio Tompkinson latches onto Ioane’s grubber and dots down to the delight of the crowd, but the dismay of Mo’unga, who lost the ball in the in-goal. However, the TMO review cancels out the try after using the new laws to look back several phases to find a knock-on. The Highlanders have a penalty for offsides.

68.00: Scott Barrett is warned again for repeat infringements on his team’s goal-line. And guess what? The Crusaders win the turnover after holding up the ball-carrier. Codie Taylor, take a bow!

71.00: Both benches have been emptied, hang on for a wild ride in the final 10 minutes.

73.00: Mo’unga boots a penalty deep inside the opposition’s 22.

73.00: TRY! Brodie McAlister flops over the whitewash after the Crusaders forwards bulldozed their way over from 10 metres out. Game over! 13-24

74.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga finally finds his radar. 13-26

75.00: Nareki, who hasn’t really got into the game, knocks-on a promising attack.

78.00: The clock is winding down, the Saders look for the bonus-point. Can they get it?

81.00: YELLOW CARD! Barrett goes to the bin. The lock took Folau Fakatava off the ball after Nareki’s sideline break. Hunt kicks to the corner, looking for the losing bonus-point. 13-26

82.00: Another penalty goes to the home team, who will kick to the corner again.

84.00: The highlanders cannot find their way over the line, their forwards are pushed backwards from yet another driving maul. Game Over!


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The final score is Highlanders 13 (10) Crusaders 26 (14)


Tries – Frizell, C. Garden-Bachop
Pen – Hunt
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Taylor, Hall, Reece, McAlister
Pen –
Con – Mo’unga (3)
Drop –
Cards – Blackadder (Yellow, 23′), S. Barrett (Yellow, 81′)

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



15 Solomon Alaimalo, 14 Connor Garden-Bachop, 13 Ngatungane Punivai, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Regan, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown

Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Hugh Renton


15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody

Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Chay Fihaki

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