Written by Max Sharp
On Saturday we saw the best game of the Super Rugby Pacific season so far, the two heavyweights of the competition put on a show for us all! It appeared throughout the second half that there was no way through the Crusaders' red wall of defence, but the Chiefs finally made it through, the Crusaders lost by 21-24. We'd better have a read on how well each Crusader went, this was a real excitement of a game!
Crusaders Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Joe Moody (3/10)
While Joe Moody managed to get around the park in this game (10 metres from 4 carries, 6 tackles), he struggled at the set piece, he was on the park for 2 of the 3 scrums the Crusaders lost (out of 11). Moody didn't come back on in the second half, hopefully he isn't injured!
Hooker - Codie Taylor (8/10)
The world's best hooker ended up as captain due to Scott Barrett's positive COVID test and he played well in the role. Taylor ran 25 metres, made 4 passes and beat a defender in his 3 carries, while his strong defence saw him make 12 tackles. Class act.
Tighthead Prop - Fletcher Newell (6/10)
8/11 scrums won for the Crusaders isn't ideal, but Newell will learn from the lesson. The powerful 22-year-old was only given the ball twice, he ran a metre off his lone carry, while he also made a pass. He demonstrated great fitness in a 68-minute game, where he won a turnover and made 13 tackles. He'll improve more.
Lock 4 - Quinten Strange (7/10)
Strange was not initially meant to play, but was called in due to illnesses to Barrett and to Mitchell Dunshea. A strong performance, making 16 metres from 3 carries, backed up by 2 passes and 12 tackles. The lineout was his strongest area of the game.
Lock 5 - Sam Whitelock (8/10)
The ageless goliath only ran 7 metres from his 7 carries, but opened the game up more with 6 passes and an offload, while his 20 tackles were the second-most of the game. He's started yet another season excellently, just rest him on the end-of-year tour so he isn't injured!
Blindside Flanker - Ethan Blackadder (9/10)
I was surprised when reading he had only ran 13 metres off 5 carries, it seemed like Blackadder was everywhere! Some strong defence, topping the tackle charts with 23, while his lone turnover was at a very important point.
Openside Flanker - Tom Christie (8/10)
Christie was going to get a 7/10 but that's too harsh on a player who made 19 tackles and 2 turnovers. He had a real workhorse performance, his 7 metres were off only 2 carries and he also delivered 3 passes. The door isn't shut on the 24-year-old's chances for a test cap.
Number 8 - Pablo Matera (9/10)
Fielding three openside flankers, including Matera, (two tall enough to jump in the lineout) has caused a lot of problems for the Crusaders' opponents. Their best performer, 50 metres and a defender beaten from 7 carries, he had made a team-high 14 tackles upon being subbed off for Grace.
Halfback - Bryn Hall (7/10)
Halfbacks aren't known for winning turnovers but Hall managed one in this game! He totalled 22 metres and a clean break from 2 carries, while he made 6 tackles. Goes without saying that Hall also made the most passes for his team, with 52. Good game.
First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (7/10)
This is the kind of performance you'll get when you give Mo'unga an actual decent coach. It wasn't a vintage performance by any means, but a very good one, he ran 47 metres and beat 4 defenders from 7 carries, 19 excellent passes, his strong defence was on display, 5 tackles and 1 turnover. The only two faults of Mo'unga's game was that his single missed tackle allowed Stevenson to score, the other was that he was subbed off with cramps.
Left Wing - Leicester Fainga'anuku (5/10)
He wasn't very involved with the game, this can just be the nature of playing wing. Only 7 carries, but he put them to good use and ran 25 metres, beating 2 defenders, he gave some distribution as well. MIA on defence, made only 1 tackle, needs to do better in this area.
Second-Five - David Havili (8/10)
Havili shut his critics up with some real class, he was the backline's top tackler with 17, good use of added bulk since last season. He made more than 20 metres and beat a defender from 9 carries, as well as 9 passes, he can indeed be a crash-ball runner. Very opportunistic try as well.
Centre - Braydon Ennor (8/10)
Would have been the best of the Crusaders if it weren't for ball-handling errors. Ennor's attack was strong, he ran 64 metres and beat 4 defenders, making 2 clean breaks off 7 carries. His best defensive performance with 15 tackles, while he scored a cracking try too!
Right Wing - Sevu Reece (7/10)
Though Reece made just 4 tackles, his 2 turnovers were useful. Made the most of his attacking chances, running a team-high 68 metres off 7 carries, using them to beat 2 defenders and make a clean break. A great example of doing the basics of your position well.
Fullback - Will Jordan (4/10)
World Rugby's Breakthrough Player of the Year was shut down well by the Chiefs. Jordan was only able to run 26 metres and beat a single defender from his 5 carries, 3 tackles wasn't good enough considering their possession rate either. The first bad game I've seen him have, there's a first time for everything.
Reserve Hooker - Shilo Klein (No rating)
He replaced Taylor with just 9 minutes to go, it's unrealistic to rate a tight-five forward properly with such little game time.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - George Bower (7/10)
Despite wearing jersey number 18, Bower replaced Joe Moody at halftime. The scrum improved with him on the pitch, 8 tackles was a good effort too. Start him next week should Moody be unavailable.
Replacement Tighthead Prop - Abraham Pole (No rating)
Pole was called in for Tamaiti Williams, who also tested positive for COVID. Replaced Newell with just 12 minutes left (despite wearing jersey 17), but made a good effort with 5 tackles. Not enough game time to rate him properly.
Replacement Lock - Dominic Gardiner (No rating)
Same situation as Klein and Pole. Only played for 12 minutes and was only able to make three contributions to the game (2 tackles and a turnover), not enough game time to rate him.
Replacement Loose Forward - Cullen Grace (7/10)
After failing to live up to the hype in 2021, Grace gave his best performance since 2020, when he earned his maiden test cap. Ran 14 metres and beat 2 defenders off only a single carry, while 11 tackles are a lot for a substitute!
Replacement Halfback - Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (5/10)
The former All Black replaced Bryn Hall with just 20 minutes left and made only 6 passes due to his team's lack of possession, 5 tackles was commendable for a halfback. Start Tahuriorangi next week, defence at 9 can come in handy.
Replacement First-Five - Fergus Burke (No rating)
Burke was subbed on for Mo'unga, who had cramps towards the end, with 8 minutes left. The Crusaders imploded without Mo'unga, Burke as an individual can't be rated properly after only 8 minutes, all he did was make one tackle.
Replacement Outside Back - George Bridge (6/10)
Wasn't given a single opportunity on attack, but did make an impressive 9 tackles in just 20 minutes. Not bad for a winger there, George.