Super Rugby

Taylor at the double: Crusaders beat Moana Pasifika




Crusaders beat Moana Pasifika 12-33 after a disjointed night in Super Rugby Pacifica at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.

The Crusaders ran in five tries to two in a mistake-riddled Super Rugby contest on a frustrating night – but managed to collect a late bonus-point – under the roof in Otago.

Mitch Dunshea, Ethan Blackadder, Codie Taylor (twice), and Abraham Pole all scored for the 10-time champions.

Scott Robertson’s men remain unbeaten this season after three rounds, but this was a hard-fought win, sealed late on.

To put Moana Pasifika’s performance in perspective, the Crusaders had won their previous nine Super Rugby matches, scoring an average of 40 points per win.

Simon Hickey added six points from three conversions, although the standoff did miss an early penalty. Richie Mo’unga converted a score as well.

Solomone Funaki and Fine Inisi both scored historic tries for the Samoans on either side of the interval.

Lincoln McClutchie converted Inisi’s try to get his first Super Rugby points.

Aaron Mauger’s charges can be proud of their display, especially against such illustrious opponents, and despite Covid-19 wreaking havoc with their fixture list.

This was Moana Pasifika’s first game of the tournament after having their opening two matches postponed. They did not disappoint.

Mauger’s side pushed the opposition for 72 minutes until two late scores inflated the scoreboard.

Crusaders dominated the first stanza, but only lead two tries to one

The Crusaders took a deserved nine-point halftime lead into the shed after an error-strewn 40 minutes.

Robertson wrang the changes for this game and it showed. His team could not find any rhythm and were sloppy all over the pitch despite being well-disciplined.

Dunshea and Blackadder’s tries overturned a 5-0 Pasifika lead after Funaki’s surprise score gave the Samoans a shock lead in the 15th minute.

It was a sensational score by Pasifika. Funaki reached out to score a historic try for the Samoans near the corner flag after the host’s slick handling.

McClutchie’s line-break in midfield, after another Crusaders turnover on the halfway line, set up his side’s score. The conversion attempt failed.

Hickey had earlier missed a sitter from in front as the Saders searched for an early score to set the tone.

However, poor handling, a struggling scrum, and Pasifika winning the breakdown and contact areas, kept Aaron Mauger’s men in the contest.

The new boys won seven first-half turnovers as the Saders coughed up possession several times inside the opposition’s 22.

The forward pack repelled four driving mauls inside the ‘red zone’ to keep the former champions at bay.

But all the defending did was tire out the Super Rugby debutants, and the class of the players made the difference when George Bridge’s line-break opened the designated home team’s defence.

Bridge raced into the 22, drew a defender before putting Dunshea away untouched in the corner after 23 minutes.

Yet again, the Samoans halted the Kiwi driving maul.

This time, however, the Crusaders went through the phases, attack after attack, before Blackadder crashes over the chalk from close range after Bridge almost dotted down.

Hickey converted again to make it 5-14.

Robertson’s side increased the pace and tempo, but could not get over for another score as the errors mounted.

Crusaders score early before pulling away in the last 10 minutes

The pressure continued after halftime as the Christchurch side searched for a third.

Pasifika kept out one driving maul, but a harsh penalty at the breakdown saw stand-in skipper Quinten Strange opt for another lineout.

Taylor, who had just entered the game, peeled around the rolling maul to increase the lead. Hickey added the extras.

Robertson’s charges kept coming, but it was a late third-quarter surge by Mauger’s men, that kept the Islanders in touching distance.

Pasifika only won their first penalty in the 48th minute, however, they forced the red man to concede several in quick succession as they searched for another score.

But poor handling, two terrible lineouts near the opposition’s try line, and a week maul proved costly.

Eventually, mistakes from Mo’unga, Pablo Matera, and Bryn Hall, all in the same phase, saw Inisi take Christian Leali’ifano’s pop-pass to score next to the poles.

McClutchie added the two to cut the gap back to nine going into the final stages.

The lead was, however, short-lived as the Crusaders hit back immediately from the kick-off following a mistake at the restart.

The Saders regathered, went through the phases before Pole scored his maiden Super Rugby try – on debut – from a pick-and-drive.

Mo’unga added the extras to reopen the 16-point lead. Taylor scored his 28th Super Rugby try from another rolling maul to seal the bonus-point victory.

Final Score: Moana Pasifika 12 (5) Crusaders 33 (14)


Moana Pasifika
Tries – Funaki, Inisi
Pen –
Con – McClutchie
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Dunshea, Blackadder, Taylor (2), Pole
Pen –
Con – Hickey (3), Mo’unga
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Fraser Hannon
TMO: Chris Hart


Moana Pasifika

15 William Havili, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 Danny Toala, 11 Neria Fomai, 10 Lincoln McClutchie, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Alamanda Motuga, 6 Solomone Funaki, 5 Samuel Slade, 4 Mike McKee, 3 Sekope Kepu (captain), 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Ezekiel Lindenmuth

16 Samiuela Moli, 17 Taukiha’amea Koloamatangi, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Alex McRobbie, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Christian Leali’ifano, 23 Fine Inisi


15 Chay Fihaki, 14 George Bridge, 13 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Quinten Strange (captain), 4 Mitch Dunshea, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower

16 Codie Taylor, 17 Abraham Pole, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Dominic Gardiner, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Isaiah Punivai

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