Written by Max Sharp.
Another year, another Crusaders win over the Hurricanes. It's without a doubt that the Hurricanes are much more talented, but the Crusaders (mostly) demonstrated that teamwork will always trump individualism on a sports field. The Crusaders' 24-21 win was a very close game, while possession % was very close to being even, most other statistics were in the Hurricanes' favour. So, we'll read through from jerseys 1 through to 23, to see how the Crusaders managed to hang in there and win!
Crusaders Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Joe Moody (4/10)
Aside from making 9 tackles, Moody didn't have a lot of impact on the game in his 53 minutes, especially compared to Tyrel Lomax. Moody's ruck speed wasn't particularly quick so it's surprising the Crusaders won more turnovers than their opponents. Just 1 metre off 2 carries.
Hooker - Codie Taylor (7/10)
The world's best hooker was out there to work hard again. Taylor's lineout throws were all accurate, while he ran 14 metres and beat 1 defender off 4 carries. His 10 tackles were all good, one of his 3 passes was a try assist for Strange, while he got through 66 minutes of action. Good stuff.
Tighthead Prop - Fletcher Newell (6/10)
Was successful at cleaning opponents out from rucks but was taken off at half time due to injury. Worked hard around the field, making 4 metres off his 2 carries and making 7 tackles, but like Moody, got pushed back in the scrum.
Lock 4 - Scott Barrett (7/10)
Angry Hurricanes fans will be upset with the call, but Barrett did an excellent job to steal the final lineout of the game to get the win. Was tireless as ever, running 16 metres and beating 1 defender off 8 carries, while he applied pressure at rucks and made 11 tackles.
Lock 5 - Quinten Strange (6/10)
Limped off injured after 56 minutes, but performed well until then. Strange scored a rare try from 2 metres out (running 10 total) and beat 1 defender from 5 carries. Jumped well in the lineout, could have defended harder than just 5 tackles and 1 turnover though.
Blindside Flanker - Ethan Blackadder (8/10)
Though he was rather skinny aged 19, Ethan Blackadder's evolved into a better player than his father Todd was. Ran 27 metres, scored 1 try and beat 2 defenders off 15 physical carries, made 4 passes and 14 tackles. With Shannon Frizell injured, he'll get more caps at 6 for the All Blacks this year.
Openside Flanker - Tom Christie (10/10)
It's never been a secret that Christie is a tackling machine, he made 20 against the Hurricanes. This was a career-best performance though, he ran 50 metres, beat 1 defender and made 1 clean break from just 6 carries and also managed 9 passes and 1 turnover.
Number 8 - Cullen Grace (6/10)
Was definitely the weak link of the loose trio. Grace's two blatant penalties with 10 to go could have potentially cost the game. Besides that, he ran 14 metres and made 1 clean break off 4 carries. Nice to see 13 passes, 12 tackles and 1 turnover though, a mixed game.
Halfback - Mitchell Drummond (4/10)
Very lucky to avoid a yellow card for a deliberate knock-down. Drummond wasn't too flashy on attack, though he did defend with 4 tackles and 1 turnover. We probably won't see the 28-year-old play another test, which is a real shame.
First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (7/10)
Mo'unga shook off a dreadful first 20 minutes to become one of the game's stars. Aside from kicking 2/4, Mo'unga was incredible around the field, with 77 metres and 5 defenders beaten off 11 carries. His 33 passes were all spot-on and he completed all of his 7 tackles, including one that held up Julian Savea over the try line.
Left Wing - George Bridge (3/10)
When attending school with Bridge, he came across as a confident man but this appears to have faded. A mere 18 metres from 5 carries is low for a winger, while a few missed tackles saw his completed total at 4. A bad knock-on of a high ball too. At 27, his test career is all but over. Another example of a winger with a hiss-and-roar career start, then fading away early. 1 easy try will save the blemishes.
Second-Five - David Havili (7/10)
Though he was outplayed by Jordie Barrett, Havili still did well. Smashed Jamie Booth in the lead-up to Jordan's try and was an effective crash-ball runner in 6 carries. 12 passes, 2 offloads, 12 tackles and 2 turnovers demonstrated great awareness of the game.
Centre - Braydon Ennor (6/10)
Like Havili, he couldn't find any gaps, but did beat 3 defenders off his 5 carries. Ennor's passing wasn't utilised a lot, but his defence has improved so much. 10 tackles and 2 turnovers aren't numbers he'd normally produce, probably needed a half-time HIA though.
Right Wing - Sevu Reece (7/10)
A few early defensive misreads let Kirifi in for a try but Reece, like Mo'unga, recovered. Reece managed to run 63 metres, beat 3 defenders and make 2 clean breaks off 7 carries, while also managing 12 tackles. Will buck the trend of wingers only making one World Cup.
Fullback - Will Jordan (8/10)
A calm kicking game and elusive running from 15 for Jordan. 1 try, 102 metres (most of his team), 3 defenders beaten and 2 clean breaks off 7 carries is good stuff, as were his 12 passes and 2 offloads. Defensively stepped up too, will be in Team of the Week for sure.
Reserve Hooker - Ricky Jackson (6/10)
The former Highlander, aged 23, came on for his Crusaders debut with 14 minutes left and got stuck in, running 3 metres off 2 carries, defending with 1 tackle and 1 turnover. Jackson did however, concede a penalty in the game's dying minutes.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - George Bower (4/10)
Bower came on for Moody with 27 to go and was also pushed around at scrum time. 7 metres is good off 2 carries but he could've made more, 3 tackles isn't a massive amount for that time frame either. His place in the All Blacks needs to be justified more strongly.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Tamaiti Williams (6/10)
Outstanding effort in the rucks, just piling his body into nearly all of them. Won a try-saving turnover at one stage, running 3 metres off 3 carries. Probably should have made more than 1 tackle in 40 minutes, but played well otherwise.
Reserve Lock - Zach Gallagher (No rating)
Gallagher replaced the injured Quinten Strange in the 56th minute and didn't get lots of involvement so won't be rated.
Reserve Loose Forward - Corey Kellow (No rating)
Kellow was named on the bench after Pablo Matera was withdrawn late due to illness and did not play so won't be rated.
Reserve Halfback - Bryn Hall (4/10)
Took too long at the base of the ruck and kicked the ball out of the field on the full at one stage. Mo'unga needs a halfback who can provide him with solid ball to work off, it's time for Tahuriorangi to play the full 80 for the Crusaders.
Reserve First-Five - Fergus Burke (No rating)
Burke was named in jersey 22 but did not play so won't be rated.
Reserve Utility Back - Leicester Fainga'anuku (8/10)
Well, he made more metres (29), turnovers (2) and beat more defenders (1) in 30 minutes, than Bridge did in 50 minutes. Outstanding impact off the bench prevented Julian Savea from terrorising the Crusaders' defence even more.