Crusaders game breakers come to the fore

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Coach Scott Robertson was concerned with the Crusaders' kicking game, which was not as effective as needed during the first hour.

Fullback Will Jordan again demonstrated his class to score the game-breaking try. He was a class player whose anticipation and instinct was backed by speed, and he had played some big moments in the win.

"He was superb," he said.

Robertson hinted that All Blacks' first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga could return a week early to catch up some game time against Moana Pasifika on Friday.

"We'll have a conversation with Richie, if he's available in the next week or two. He's missing it," Robertson said.

Mo'ung's stand-in Fergus Burke had taken his chances well and would benefit from his game time.

"The one good thing about Richie taking some time is that it gives him [Burke] an opportunity. We're just so pleased 'Ferg' has taken it. He's taken control of the team.

"When Richie is playing, it's his team, and 'Ferg' has owned it as well, so we're building depth," he said.

Robertson said All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor would also return against Moana Pasifika on Friday.

Robertson was pleased with the quality the Crusaders have in their front row.

"George Bower came on strong. Tamaiti Williams was great with the ball in hand, and he won a good scrum penalty.

"I'm really pleased with the depth," he said.

Highlanders coach Tony Brown was left lamenting injuries his side suffered.

Josh Timu appeared to have a knee injury while prop Ethan de Groot had a rib injury, and flanker James Lentjes had a neck injury.

"We're hoping with an extra day's recovery we might get a couple of those boys back," he said.

Brown thought the Highlanders showed improvements from their opening-round game. However, it was in the final quarter that their effort came undone.

"The Crusaders got on top of us there. But I'm pretty proud of the boys. Any Highlanders' supporter would be proud of them.

"Our defence was unreal until a couple of X-factor players cut us to pieces at the end," he said.

"Those guys have been doing it to the best rugby teams in the world, so I can't fault the effort and attitude," he said.

The performance of his midfield pairing of Fetuli Paea and Thomas Umaga-Jensen was especially pleasing.

"I think both 'Tuli' and 'Tug' were outstanding in the midfield. They hadn't played a lot of rugby, and they hadn't played a lot together. So, it's a pretty exciting midfield combination for us.

"With more game time, I'm hoping they can develop into a world-class midfield," he said.


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