Carter's Crusaders contribution lauded
Dan Carter's contribution was lauded by both coaches after the Crusaders kept their play-off hopes alive with an emphatic 40-12 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday night.
Nonu, who came on at halftime, was sent packing by referee Steve Walsh for his illegal tackle on wing Tom Marshall 17 minutes into the second spell, while blindside flanker Jarrad Hoeata was sin-binned in the first half for a facial on an opponent.
"The difference between the teams for me was Dan Carter," Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said. “I thought he was outstanding.
"He didn't miss a shot at goal, we missed three, he ran well, he made try-saving tackles. They scored off our mistakes.
"The kicks we missed might have kept it close and against the Crusaders you 've got to stay close. When you get into the red zone against the Crusaders, you've got to score points. We turned over ball at rucks and kicked away possession."
Crusaders' coach Todd Blackadder said Carter was a match-winner and, after showing signs of rust in his All Black comeback the previous week, he was at his best.
"I thought Dan was superb. He showed his class. He turned up to play. He took it to the gain line, especially in the second half, he was great on defence and he kicked all eight shots at goal."
Blackadder had no sympathy for Nonu's red card. The score was 20-12 at the time and the Crusaders scored 20 points in the last 23 minutes.
"There's something not right there," he said. "When you see players go out there and give away red cards, there's something not quite right though it's not for me to say."
Joseph did not defend the ordering-off, either, but he did say Nonu and Walsh had 'history'.
"You make your own decisions on that," he said when asked about the sending off.
"He [Walsh] didn't muck around, did he? He was pretty determined. It would be nice to see the stats. I think he [Nonu] has been yellow carded three or four times by Walshy.
"It stuffed us really, especially when you add on the sin-binning of Jarrad [Hoeata] in the first half. You need as much help as you can get against the Crusaders, not play them with 14 men. We turned over too much ball at rucks and kicked away too much possession."
Blackadder said the outcome vindicated his decision to have All Blacks Luke Romano, Wyatt Crockett and Kieran Read on the bench.
"I felt we got it right. They had put in a lot of effort with the All Blacks during the past three weeks. We trusted the other guys to do the job and they did it for us."
Blackadder said All Black prop Owen Franks, who missed the match because of an infected elbow, would be available for the game against the Chiefs in Christchurch on Friday night.
"That performance wouldn't be good enough to beat the Chiefs," he said. "We need to tidy our game up and be more accurate but I have a feeling we'll be ready for them.
"It's a short turnaround but I'm sure our guys will enjoy the challenge. They get the best out of guys like Dan Carter. The bigger the game, the more our guys are on to it."
The Highlanders, still bottom of the table, will play the Hurricanes in Wellington next Saturday night.