Written by Max Sharp.
That's a pretty decent comeback for Scott Robertson's Crusaders after round 4, the team's golden generation isn't done yet! They opened the game's scoring after only 7 minutes and remained in the lead against the Chiefs throughout. FMG Stadium were very lucky to see the constructive performance, which the Crusaders won by 34-19. Let's have a read and see who the standouts were!
Crusaders Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Finlay Brewis (6/10)
The 22-year-old Westlake Boys' High School alumni will be pleased with his 45-minute Super Rugby debut. He held the Crusaders' scrum together well in the absence of Joe Moody and also ran 4 metres from 3 carries, making 3 tackles.
Hooker - Codie Taylor (8/10)
Taylor, now a veteran of 66 test caps, was called in to start after the late withdrawal of Brodie McAlister. He played very well, scoring a try, running 14 metres from 4 carries, throwing well in the lineout and also completing 14 tackles and winning 1 turnover. Taylor, most impressively, played the full 80 minutes; the Crusders had no reserve hooker.
Tighthead Prop - Oliver Jager (7/10)
He's looking close to a test debut for Ireland. Jager's defence was strong with 8 tackles, while although he ran only 3 metres from 4 carries, he did beat a defender. His hands delivered 3 passes as well, the Irish do have a thing for ball-passing forwards right now.
Lock 4 - Scott Barrett (8/10)
Captaincy hasn't burdened Barrett's game at all. He averaged 3 metres a carry, running 18 from 6 carries, while his 10 tackles were robust and dynamic once again. Though his father Kevin had retired before I was born, I do wonder if that's what Scott models is game off.
Lock 5 - Quinten Strange (6/10)
Solid, rather than spectacular, Strange's team-first attitude delivered though. His 13 metres were off 4 carries, while he also completed 5 passes and 8 tackles. He did get targeted a bit in the lineout, while a try to Cullen Grace was disallowed due to Strange's forward pass.
Blindside Flanker - Ethan Blackadder (8/10)
Though some rugby fans tend to overhype him, Blackadder lived up to it this time. His attack saw 26 metres and 1 defender beaten from 6 carries, while his 7 passes were more than his team's centre made. 10 strong tackles as well. 6 is his best position for sure.
Openside Flanker - Tom Christie (9/10)
I've always taken note of how similar Christie is to Matt Todd when it comes to gameplay. Fairly so as well, he was a defensive monster, with a game-high 18 tackles and a near-unheard of 4 turnovers. I also liked that he didn't shy away from carrying this time around.
Number 8 - Cullen Grace (9/10)
Second-year syndrome is quite clearly over for the number 8. Having played just 3 minutes on his single test cap, Grace looks determined for another test. He ran an incredible 54 metres from 9 carries and also made 4 passes and 8 tackles. It's just a shame his second try was ruled out.
Halfback - Bryn Hall (4/10)
The Crusaders' halves pairing had a game to forget to be fair. Hall did not carry once, instead electing to exclusively pass. His 4 tackles are to be commended, but his box-kicking was a bit aimless.
First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (5/10)
Mo'unga's goal-kicking finished at 67% because of two easy missed kicks, while his tactical kicking was poor. His lone carry saw him beat 6 defenders but he only ran 6 metres forward. The best element of his game was the 36 passes and 3 offloads, they were all flat and the key to the Crusaders' game.
Left Wing - George Bridge (8/10)
The couch coaches suggesting Bridge can't play got a rude awakening, he was perfect under the high ball. Bridge also ran 60 metres and beat 2 defenders off 8 carries. He could easily shift to play at fullback to prolong his test career.
Second-Five - David Havili (9/10)
In his 100th Super Rugby game, Havili proved every single talking point wrong. The Crusaders successfully utilised him as a crash-ball runner and his 12 carries resulted in 66 metres, 1 clean break and 4 defenders beaten. Havili's 12 tackles were the most of the backline. Keep on dreaming, haters, he isn't getting dropped from the All Blacks.
Centre - Leicester Fainga'anuku (8/10)
As much as I'd prefer him to play at left wing, Fainga'anuku is still effective from 13. His passing game continues to improve, while he also scored a try, ran 47 metres and beat 2 defenders from 7 carries. He's the new Julian Savea.
Right Wing - Chay Fihaki (3/10)
Admirable selection by Robertson, to give the rookie a crack. Fihaki will be disappointed with the game though, he missed 3 of his 4 tackle attempts and he only got the opportunity to make 3 carries. Persevere with him, he is still extremely promising and sometimes a bad game can be the greatest learning curve for a youngster. Fihaki will keep improving.
Fullback - Will Jordan (10/10)
Jordan is Player of the Week. His slow start to the season is over after that career-best performance. Jordan's 1 try, 152 metres and 3 defenders beaten off 13 carries will be the talk of the town, but let's not forget he also made 10 passes and 3 turnovers. Incredible game.
Reserve Prop - Fletcher Newell (did not play)
Newell normally plays at tighthead prop but was made to wear jersey 16 in case Codie Taylor was injured. Newell did not come on so has not been rated.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - George Bower (8/10)
An all-round performance was enjoyable to see from the late-bloomer. Bower's 13 metres and 1 clean break were from just 2 carries, while he also made 4 passes, 12 tackles and 1 turnover. Would have an even higher rating if not for losing a scrum off his own feed.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Tamaiti Williams (4/10)
The rapidly-rising 21-year-old may have a lot of promise but he is still human. Williams wasn't involved around the field a lot, making just 3 tackles, while his first scrum was lost against the feed. He will be better off after this game and will continue improving.
Reserve Lock - Mitchell Dunshea (6/10)
Dunshea didn't make any errors after coming on and got stuck into the game, with 1 metre off his lone carry, as well as 7 tackles and 1 turnover. That's a hefty defensive workload for just 17 minutes, he was replaced by Kellow after getting subbed off due to injury.
Reserve Loose Forward - Corey Kellow (No rating)
He's just 1.87m tall, but had to come on for the injured Dunshea. Kellow made 3 tackles and 1 pass in 11 minutes, that's not enough to rate him on.
Reserve Halfback - Mitchell Drummond (5/10)
Drummond's performance was essentially the same as Hall's. Though he did make 3 tackles, he didn't carry the ball once himself, preferring exclusively to pass off the rucks. Tahuriorangi needs to start next week.
Reserve First-Five - Fergus Burke (No rating)
A replacement for Fainga'anuku with just 5 minutes left. Once again, not enough to rate him on.
Replacement Outside Back - Sevu Reece (8/10)
Reece should have started and boy did he have some impact on the game. His influential performance included 84 metres, 1 clean break and 3 defenders beaten off 5 carries. Reece also defended well, with 3 tackles and 1 turnover. I hope that Chay Fihaki can get a similar opportunity as Reece in the Crusaders' next outing.