The Hurricanes started strongly and almost scored a stunning length of the field try when Ardie Savea busted out of his 22 on a long, weaving run. However, shortly after the skipper was sinbinned for a professional foul close to his line and that proved to be a fatal mistake for the visitors.
Sparked by the outstanding Codie Taylor, the Crusaders ruthlessly clicked into gear with a one man advantage. The Crusaders hooker caught the Canes napping with a quick tap to score the first try, then set up Richie Mo’unga to score next to the posts only a couple of minutes later. As Savea was about to come back on, Ethan Blackadder powered over after some sustained pressure near the line. Even when the Hurricanes were restored to 15 players, the Crusaders kept the heat on and sent Scott Barrett over just before the break.
Taylor’s good day continued when a wayward lineout throw from Ricky Riccitelli landed right in his lap to dive over and make the score an unassailable 33-6. From then on it was just a matter of damage control for the Canes. Riccitelli made up for his error with a well-worked lineout drive try in the 56th minute, but that was all their fans could smile about until just before the end when Peter Umaga-Jensen finished off a long range effort after a goal line drop out.
Today was notable for the use of two captain’s challenges, as first Ardie Savea questioned the last pass for Mo’unga’s try, then Scott Barrett asked to check some potential foul play by the Hurricanes captain. Both were unsuccessful, but the new rule seems to be catching on well after two weeks of the competition. Coaches Scott Robertson and Jason Holland will be hammering home the importance of discipline again this week after a high penalty count against both sides.
The game wasn’t without its share of casualties, with Blackadder having to leave the field with a head knock and Asafo Aumua departing with what looked like a serious arm injury.
Crusaders 33 (Codie Taylor 2, Richie Mo’unga, Ethan Blackadder, Scott Barrett tries; Mo’unga 3 con)
Hurricanes 16 (Ricky Riccitelli, Peter Umaga-Jensen tries; Jordie Barrett 2 pen)
HT: 26-6 Crusaders