Crusaders defeat Highlanders in first trial
February 7, 2014
Andy Ellis (l) and Israel Dagg both found the try-line for the Crusaders © Getty Images
The Crusaders have opened their season by scoring four tries to two in a 28-15 win over the Highlanders in their Super Rugby trial match Motueka.
Heavy pre-match rain and a soggy field detracted from the spectacle although it didn't stop the Crusaders racing 28-3 ahead midway through the third quarter. The Highlanders responded with late tries to former Melbourne Rebels hooker Ged Robinson and centre Malakai Fekitoa.
Both teams made a series of changes throughout the game although the Crusaders appeared to gel better, particularly on counter attack. They were playing together for the first time, having conducted an inter-squad practice match last week.
It was the Highlanders' second game of their pre-season campaign, having narrowly beaten the Brumbies in Queenstown last week.
All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg crossed early for the Crusaders followed by a try to scrum-half Andy Ellis, both of which were converted by fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal. A 14-0 quarter-time advantage became 21-3 at half-time after wing Nafi Tuitavake scored a long-range try in response to fly-half Willie Ripia's penalty for the Highlanders.
The Crusaders fourth try was scored by centre Kieron Fonotia, a member of their wider training group. It was converted by Colin Slade, in his first appearance since returning to the Crusaders following three injury-disrupted seasons with the Highlanders.
Communication error please reload the page.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen implores rugby to ask itself 'is this really the game we want?', "if we want to encourage people to watch the game"
Karmichael Hunt has pleaded guilty at Southport Magistrates Court to four charges of cocaine possession
Karmichael Hunt can return to competitive rugby in round eight of the Super Rugby season after the ARU suspends him for six weeks after pleading guilty to four counts of cocaine possession
Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 4. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups as they are named to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hailed a massive victory for his side against West Ham to retain their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League on a night all of their rivals won
One of world rugby's ultimate professionals, Super Rugby's milestone man Keven Mealamu quickly learned the value of a spare pair of boots
The Chiefs are keeping the ball alive when going into contact, and this makes their low turnover rate all the more impressive, Richard Kelly writes
Join Steve Bunce and Barry Jones each week for the latest news, views and debate from the boxing world.
Head injuries are not a trivial matter in sport - especially in one which will never fully eliminate the danger posed to its drivers
Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood was so delighted with his side's last-gasp win over West Brom that he said the three points were better than his wife winning the Euro Millions jackpot
Amir Khan is unlikely to face Kell Brook this summer as he looks to negotiate a fight with Miguel Cotto in America
Louis van Gaal wants his Manchester United players to cut out the backpasses to David De Gea as frustrations mount among supporters over his side's unadventurous approach this season
Brendan Rodgers admits Liverpool's defeat at Crystal Palace in November left him fearing for his job at Anfield
Andre Ward has warned Carl Froch that he will be calling all of the shots over their proposed title unification bout
Emre Can sees his long-term future at Liverpool as a midfielder, but insists he will never be the new Steven Gerrard
Eight years ago, Steve Bunce was offered the chance of buying a 'share' in Tyson Fury, and it would have been a shrewd investment if he had the money
He may try and play down his obsession with his appearance, but Cristiano Ronaldo has apparently been sending a personal stylist to regularly brush up his waxwork model
Who was the 100th man to win a world championship Grand Prix?
Paul Butler tells Inside Boxing he turned down the chance of a trial with Liverpool in order to focus on boxing - and it was the right choice
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner