Barbarians 17 (Sione Ahio, Nikora Broughton, Tupou Faiana-Lea'aemanu tries, Josh Jacumb con) Crusaders 15 (George Bell, Fletcher Anderson, Jack Parker tries) HT: 5-5
The Barbarians conquest of South Island opposition was completed following a brave victory against the Crusaders in windy conditions.
The endeavour of both teams was commendable with the Barbarians winning strike worthy of any highlights reel.
In the 66th minute the Barbarians busted down the right wing from deep inside their own territory. A turnover was conceded inside the Crusaders 22 but a desperate counter-ruck resulted in a turnover and big prop Tupou Faiana-Lea'aemanu thundering over under the sticks. The only conversion of the game was kicked by Josh Jacumb.
Predictably the Crusaders rallied, their scrum a most intimidating weapon. Following a 71st minute push second-five Jona Rova offloaded in a tackle to Jack Parker who swung around the corner and hit a gap to score handy to the posts. Unfortunately his kick went astray to the left.
It took 26 minutes for any points to be scored, the Barbarians muscling over from a lineout drive with prop Sione Ahio getting low to finish. Ironically given their later struggles, the Barbarians won a scrum penalty to create that chance in the first-place.
The Crusaders employed their lineout to level the scores with the last play of the first-half. Hooker George Bell crossed after bruising lock Sio Latu secured clean possession and supplied flanker Fletcher Anderson who fooled the Barbarians by leaving the maul.
Barbarians fullback Blair Murray had the Crusaders grasping at fresh air in the 59th minute. He flashed through the defence and set up inspiring flanker Nikora Broughton.
The Crusaders resorted to the boot to level the ledger. Rova swopped upon a chip to run 50-metres and then Anderson profited from the same tactic just outside the Barbarians 22
The Crusaders will rue multiple blown chances. Dropped balls and forward passes letting them down on several occasions.
Chiefs 58 (Taha Kamera 2, Cody Nordstrom, Veveni Lasaqa, Sam Tuifua, Thor Manase, Curtis Palmer, Quinnlan Tupou, Taine Kolosi tries; Tevita Ofa 5 con, Kamera pen) Hurricanes 26 (Cooper Flanders, Matt Monaghan, Chicago Doyle, Harry Godfrey tries; Godfrey 3 con) HT: 39-12
The Chiefs ignored the elements and stormed to a resounding victory over the Hurricanes. Despite the blustery conditions the Chiefs brutally exposed the Hurricanes defence on the flanks.
The Hurricanes backs, especially the wingers, often pressed-in high and hard, leaving them vulnerable to precise passes to space on the outside. The Chiefs expansive approach saw six of their nine tries scored before the break. Their rolling maul was dominant too, a source of two tries. Tevita Ofa deserves acclaim for his goal-kicking efforts. He landed four goals in a row close to both touchlines.
Despite being hampered by injury, Chiefs first-five Taha Kamera was a polished performer. He started the rout in the third minute by pushing off two defenders close to the line. Midway through the first spell, and after briefly leaving the field, he dotted down again, supporting a collective break.
The Chiefs didn’t quite have the same drive and flare when Kamera finally departed in the last quarter.
The Chiefs pack were urgent, clinical, and linked effectively with the backs. Openside Veveni Lasaqa was a dominant presence with ball in hand and captain and lock Curtis Palmer was rewarded for his industry when he galloped clear for a 30-metre runaway in the second-half.
Harry Godfrey was easily the best of the Hurricanes. The fullback/first-five was involved in the creation of their first try to openside Cooper Flanders. Godfrey asked consistent questions of the opposition defence and pulled off a brilliant piece of defence himself with a ‘Gregan-like’ tackle on Chiefs wing Cody Normstrom.
Hurricanes flanker Sione Halalilo and halfback Logan Love added some late impetus from the bench.
Highlanders 40 (Hayden Michaels, Noah Hotham, Jack Taylor, Jeremiah Asi, Edward Whyte tries; Cameron Millar 3 con, 3 pen) Blues 29 (Liam Brady, Luron Iosefa, Cephus Salaivao, Che Clarke, Essendon Tuitupou tries; Byron Smith con, Cameron Howell con) HT: 20-12
Shrewd navigation of the wind saw the Highlanders overpower the Blues 40-29. With the breeze in the first-half, the Highlanders anchored themselves inside Blues territory for much of the opening quarter with intelligent kicking and profited with two tries.
Flanker Hayden Michaels rumbled over after a lineout drive and halfback Noah Hotham took an overthrown Blues effort, charged ahead with vigour and beat the retreating chasers to the whitewash.
The Blues enjoyed flourishes of brilliance, but lacked the sustained consistency required to win. Their midfield of Essendon Tuitupou and Quinton Nichols were influential in creating tries for Liam Brady and Luron Iosefa as they turned just 20-12 down at halftime.
Against the wind, Hotham and the Highlanders pack were outstanding early in the second-half. Strong, short-side attacks spearheaded by Michaels, lock Fabian Holland, prop Isileli Otunuku, hooker Jack Taylor and busy wing Jeremiah Asi saw the Blues tumble behind 30-12. Holland’s catch and pass from a lineout back to Hotham onto Taylor was an especially eye-catching try.
In the 62nd minute Blues wing Cephus Salaivao scored his second try in as many games to reduce the deficit to 30-17. However when the Blues allowed the kick-off to bounce, Holland pounced and reserve flanker Edward Whyte eventually crossed out wide, the recipient of a wicked behind the back pass by centre Jake Te Hiwi.
The Blues scored the last two tries after being down 40-17.