Written by Max Sharp.
At long last, the Brumbies' streak over New Zealand-based teams is over. The Crusaders have started to look like a much more cohesive unit compared to other performances this season, they managed a half-time lead of 23-5 after some dominant tackling, before holding off the Brumbies' comeback attempt to dispatch them by 37-26. With 50% possession, better tackle accuracy and a higher ruck success rate, this made for a very entertaining late-night show. We'll read through the Crusaders' jersey numbers from 1 to 23 and analyse how each player went.
Crusaders Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - George Bower - 7/10
Performed far better than last week, with 12 solid metres off his 4 carries. Persistent threat to Brumby jacklers at the ruck, while making 1 pass and 6 tackles. Bower has seen the competition from younger number 1's, so looks dead set on holding them off. 1 lost scrum whilst on the pitch.
Hooker - Codie Taylor - 9/10
The vice-captain did not return to the pitch after halftime, appearing to have a broken rib. Did a lot of good things in 40 minutes, scoring 1 try, while running 29 metres off 6 carries and giving 1 pass. Strong defence with 9 tackles and 1 turnover, while also kicking a grubber to set up a try for Sevu Reece. Ian Foster will be hoping Taylor's injury isn't serious.
Tighthead Prop - Fletcher Newell (7/10)
Will be disappointed at the 1 lost scrum but got through 62 minutes. Newell's attack wasn't substantial (1 metre off 2 carries) but he made 2 passes and defended strongly by making 10 tackles. Is there time for him to stake a claim for the black jersey?
Lock 4 - Scott Barrett (8/10)
Barrett returned from suspension fired up and played well at loosehead lock. Barrett managed 18 metres and 1 defender beaten from his 8 carries, whilst using his big frame to make 12 tackles, the second-most of the team. A good captain's shift.
Lock 5 - Sam Whitelock (6/10)
Looked absolutely drained at the end of the game after such a heavy workload on return from injury. Did not make any carries, but made 3 passes and defended admirably with 10 tackles, got close to chasing down a try-scoring Tom Wright. Rest him next week.
Blindside Flanker - Pablo Matera (9/10)
Argentina's greatest-ever openside packed down at 6 again and did well. Matera's 12 strong carries were the second-most of the team, whilst he ran 41 metres and beat 6 defenders. 3 passes and 9 tackles to round out his game, a satisfying watch for the purists.
Openside Flanker - Ethan Blackadder (9/10)
Doesn't have the best rugby IQ, but sheer determination isn't coachable. Blackadder exemplified this perfectly with a massive 22 tackles, 10 more than the runners-up, Barrett and Havili. His 2 carries were successful as well, 10 metres and 1 defender beaten. Made 2 passes and 1 offload too, his performance also would have entertained purists of the game.
Number 8 - Cullen Grace (8/10)
Was again, in the shadow of Matera and Blackadder, but still did well. The 22-year-old former All Black ran 35 metres off 7 carries, poor Nic White. Worked well as the fourth lineout jumper too, providing 4 passes. Didn't miss any of his 9 tackle attempts either. Grace will play a test again one day.
Halfback - Bryn Hall (8/10)
Easily the best performance of Hall's season. Did the basics of his position really well by giving 73 quick passes, while believe it or not, he managed 9 tackles and 1 turnover. His single carry from 1 metre out was a great snipe off the breakdown which resulted in a try.
First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (9/10)
Perfect goal-kicking accuracy with 7/7; bringing up 1000 total Super Rugby points with 17 against the Brumbies. Selected carriers well with his 13 passes, while running 36 metres and beating 3 defenders from 7 carries. The defence was decent with the exception of failing to totally stop a scoring Tom Wright. Mo'unga completed his other 4 tackles and won 1 turnover too.
Left Wing - George Bridge (5/10)
The 27-year-old wasn't very involved with the game but did everything decently apart from giving away a penalty. Ran 23 metres off 3 carries but could have come off his wing more, made 6 tackles and only 1 pass. Off after 49 minutes for Fainga'anuku.
Second-Five - David Havili (10/10)
Perfectly embodied why the game wants second-fives at 12 and not inside centres. Perfectly acted as the 10's second eyes with brilliant kicking, while using his 6 carries to be an effective crash-ball runner with 31 metres and 2 defenders beaten. Made 10 solid passes, 2 offloads and didn't miss any of his 12 tackles - more than every forward bar Barrett and Blackadder. Won 2 excellently done turnovers too. A perfect game.
Centre - Jack Goodhue (5/10)
Like Bridge, Goodhue was overshadowed by other backs. Wasn't too involved in either attack or defence; his 6 carries did lead to 1 clean break, but just 16 metres. Only 7 passes and 7 tackles too. Is this enough for an All Black re-call?
Right Wing - Sevu Reece (7/10)
Celebrated his 50th Crusaders game by becoming the quickest Super Rugby player to reach 40 tries. Reece's 4 carries were all great, totalling 48 metres, 3 defenders beaten and 1 clean break. Came off the wing to make 4 passes and 4 tackles too. Did the basics very well.
Fullback - Will Jordan (7/10)
Got contained by the Brumbies a fair bit, but still managed to spot gaps, running 78 metres, 2 defenders beaten and 2 linebreaks from a team-high 13 carries. Distribution was good too, 11 passes and 1 offload. Did, however, gift a try to Tom Wright who intercepted and made 4/6 tackles. Scored a soft try in the 64th minute, bringing his season total to 8.
Reserve Hooker - Ricky Jackson (7/10)
After having no contract at the start of the season, the 23-year-old has got a fair bit of game time in 2022. Used his 40 minutes to run 19 metres and beat 1 defender from 2 carries, whilst contributing 9 tackles to the defence from off the bench. Surely a full contract in 2023?
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Finlay Brewis (6/10)
Returned in good shape but lost a scrum, as did Bower who he replaced. Cleared out a few opponents from breakdowns, while running 2 metres from 2 carries and completing 2 tackles. Came on and did his bit.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Tamaiti Williams (No rating)
He'll be disappointed that he only played 18 minutes, Williams won't be rated as his only contribution was 4 tackles.
Reserve Lock - Liam Hallam-Eames (No rating)
Last week's debutant was named in jersey 19 but didn't come on against the Brumbies so won't be rated. Hopefully Hallam-Eames can get a few minutes next week.
Reserve Loose Forward - Tom Christie (6/10)
Wow. Impressive. The number 20 played just 11 minutes but still made 7 tackles. It's without question that he'll complete the season as the top tackler. Christie made a perfect example of coming off the bench to do the basics well.
Reserve Halfback - Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (6/10)
Didn't get to stamp his tactical authority on the game in 15 minutes, but Tahuriorangi's 13 passes were good, while he was able to make all 4 of his tackles and win 1 turnover. A bit of a similar game to Christie, just performing a totally different role.
Reserve Utility Back - Braydon Ennor (No rating)
Played 20 minutes after replacing Goodhue and only contributed 3 tackles so won't be rated. Omission from the mid-year test series has become more likely.
Reserve Outside Back - Leicester Fainga'anuku (8/10)
Played for only 31 minutes but outperformed Bridge in every statistic apart from completed tackles. Fainga'anuku's 36 metres and 1 defender beaten was the result of 7 carries, while he made 2 passes, 1 offload, 2 tackles and 1 turnover. Time for an All Black cap.