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Crusaders Player Ratings vs Chiefs (2023 Super Rugby Final)

Wow. It actually happened. Despite all of the injuries, especially in the tight-five forwards.

Scott Robertson, having won four Super Rugby titles as a loose forward from 1996-2003. After retiring as a player aged 33, the former All Black has now exceeded his strong levels of success as a player, having won 7 straight Super Rugby titles, as the Crusaders' Head Coach. 1/4 of all Super Rugby titles have been won back-to-back and this greatest-ever dynasty of victory will never be repeated now that its over.

The Crusaders held off the Chiefs' late comeback attempt and held their half-time lead of 15-10, to win by 25-20, with Richie Mo'unga's last act as a Crusader being the final penalty goal of the match. Outgoing veterans, Jack Goodhue, Leicester Fainga'anuku and back-to-back Grand Final Man of the Match, Sam Whitelock, also sign out in style.

As SANZAAR don't allow independent creators to practice Fair Use on YouTube, let's instead use this article to perform the analysis on Robertson's final fixture as Crusaders coach, by examining the players from jersey number 1 through to 23, to see how they all rated.


18-time All Blacks captain, Sam Whitelock, has won the Grand Final's Man of the Match Award in two successive seasons. The greatest-ever Super Rugby Player? Photo: Max Sharp.

Loosehead Prop - Tamaiti Williams (9/10)

Although post-contact metres aren't taken into account on the stat sheets, Williams certainly ran more than 2 metres off his 7 carries, also beating 1 defender. Useful for distribution on 6 occasions, while giving truly mighty defence to the cause, rattling ribcages with his 8 tackles and 1 turnover. Played for 68 minutes, at 140kg. Incredible.

Hooker - Codie Taylor (8/10)

Another piece of history, was Taylor's double off the driving maul. The number 2 played the full 80 minutes and finishes the season with 12 tries, taking his career total to 42; he is now the highest try-scoring forward in Super Rugby history. Effective around the field too.

Tighthead Prop - Oli Jager (7/10)

Had a strong tussle against Aidan Ross in the scrum and did the basics around the field for 1 metre, 3 carries, 3 passes and 11 tackles. Incredibly, Jager nearly went the distance and played for 77 minutes. Eligible for England, Ireland and New Zealand, perhaps he'd solve Steve Borthwick's absolute shambles over in London?

Lock 4 - Scott Barrett (9/10)

With another title to his name, The Scotts will almost certainly lead the All Blacks in 2024; spearheaded by Barrett as captain. 18 metres, 6 carries, 10 passes and 18 tackles, the most of the team, were all in a day's work for the workhorse lock.

Lock 5 - Sam Whitelock (10/10)

A dynamic ball-playing, athletic, highlight reel player in his youth and now a grizzly workhorse in his final years as a player. Sam Whitelock has done it all and recovered from a sore achilles to make the team, running 16 metres and beating 1 defender off 6 carries to make crucial ground. His multi-dimensional game truly came alive, with 8 passes, 9/9 tackles, 2 turnovers and of course, 2 lineout steals. After 181 matches and 7 titles, including 3 as captain, Sam Whitelock is the greatest-ever Super Rugby player.

Blindside Flanker - Sione Havili Talitui (5/10)

Didn't have his best game, with 4 metres, 4 carries, 4 passes and 4 tackles, but definitely contributed to multiple areas of the game. Appeared sore, so hopefully being taken off in the 56th minute won't harm Tonga ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Openside Flanker - Tom Christie (8/10)

Outplayed the All Black captain after being completely snubbed from the All Blacks XV. Made 12 tackles, but is more than a one-dimensional tackle machine; also running 21 metres and beating 1 defender off 5 carries. Executed 7 passes as well.

Number 8 - Christian Lio-Willie (9/10)

While Cullen Grace's fans will be upset to hear so, Lio-Willie at 8 has been the biggest positive change for the Crusaders in 2023. A tackle machine with 13 for the match and a genuine bruising carrier, the number 8 ran 40 metres and beat 2 defenders off 10 carries. Remained in the lineout, lifted by both locks. How did the Highlanders let him go?

Halfback - Mitchell Drummond (5/10)

By no means a poor performance, but was just simply providing Mo'unga with the goods to do his thing. Gave it a crack with 3 metres off 1 carry, also making 3 tackles. Made way for Heinz in the 50th minute.

First Five - Richie Mo'unga (9/10)

He's the All Blacks' number 10 for a reason. The ability to run a backline superbly. Mo'unga was chief enabler for the strike plays, also getting some decent plays in himself, for 37 metres, 3 defenders beaten and 7 carries to go with his 20 passes. Only blemish was a missed tackle on Shaun Stevenson.

Left Wing - Leicester Fainga'anuku (7/10)

So Fozzie, will you give this guy another go? Fainga'anuku is a ball player, reminding us with 87 metres, 1 defender beaten and 12 carries. However, his 66% tackle rate for 2023 can probably be taken with a grain of salt, given his prolific jackal ability that saw 3 turnovers won in the final.

Second Five - Jack Goodhue (7/10)

Although the backline could have been more fluid if David Havili wasn't injured, Goodhue ran some decent crash-ball lines for 9 metres off 4 carries, to allow more forwards to get to their feet in open play. Contributed 10 passes and 10 tackles in a solid effort.

Centre - Braydon Ennor (4/10)

Started strong with 17 metres and 2 defenders beaten from 7 carries, but didn't have his best day in the office on defence. This most notably included flying up at Alex Nankivell and opening a hole for Stevenson by doing so; forcing Fihaki into a side-on tackle position. Will Ennor be able to keep his previous form of the season consistent?

Right Wing - Dallas McLeod (No rating)

McLeod had only run 10 metres off 3 carries before getting subbed off in the 12th minute after a head clash while being tackled by Anton Lienert-Brown. As McLeod failed his HIA, he won't be rated.

Fullback - Will Jordan (8/10)

Is now taking the next level of reading opposing kickers into his game for sure. Jordan also spotted a few chinks in the Chiefs' armour for 106 metres, 3 defenders beaten and 2 clean breaks off 9 carries, while working well as the first-receiver when Mo'unga wasn't available.

Reserve Hooker - George Bell (No rating)

Having missed every other Crusaders game in 2023 due to injury, the 21-year-old did not come onto the pitch, so won't be rated.

Reserve Loosehead Prop - Kershawl Sykes-Martin (No rating)

Replacing Williams with just 12 minutes to go, Sykes-Martin did not play enough to be rated.

Reserve Tighthead Prop - Reuben O'Neill (No rating)

Though the number 18 only played for three minutes, this still completes a great comeback story after his lengthy injury spell.

Reserve Lock - Quinten Strange (No rating)

Although he's been selected by Ian Foster for the All Blacks XV, the Tasman Mako captain did not come on, so also won't receive a rating.

Reserve Loose Forward - Dominic Gardiner (7/10)

While yet to master the art of consistency at Super Rugby, boy did the St Bede's College alumni time his form correctly. Kept the ball recycled off 5 carries, while gaining the battle scars that come from 8 tackles and 1 turnover within just 24 minutes.

Reserve Halfback - Willi Heinz (9/10)

And that there guys, is why Eddie Jones trusted him in 2019, when England beat the All Blacks. The former 13-test international was excellent at tidying up the loose ball, time after time; just doing that stuff the stat sheet won't show us and also delivered quality from his 22 passes and 1 offload.

Reserve First Five - Fergus Burke (No rating)

Replaced Fihaki with just 6 minutes to go, so won't be rated.

Reserve Outside Back - Chay Fihaki (6/10)

Wasn't given many opportunities with the ball during his 62-minute shift, but worked with the space he was given for 22 metres off 5 carries. Though Fihaki missed a 51-metre penalty attempt at half-time, his long range definitely would have given the Crusaders a confidence boost. Appears to have worked on his defence.

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