The Crusaders are through to the semi final of Super Rugby Pacific 2023 after a showcase game in Christchurch on Saturday night.
In front of a crowd evenly split between Drua and Crusaders fans – many having flown over from Fiji on a specially chartered Fiji Airways flight – the boys in red and black dotted down seven times versus the Drua’s one to make it 49-8 after the 80.
We now face the Blues in a tantalising Friday night prospect, again in Christchurch.
Oli Jager, in his first start for the franchise this season, opened the scoring in the third minute with his second try ever for the Crusaders. It came off the back of a huge drive from Braydon Ennor who charged through the defence to set it up for Jager. Richie Mo’unga added the extras to make it 7-0 after four minutes.
Codie Taylor continued the momentum moments later with a line out drive on the 5m line, replicating it again less than 10 minutes later. With two conversions from Mo’unga the score was 21-0 after 15 minutes.
Frank Lomani opened the books for the Drua with a penalty in the 25th before Sioni Havili Talitui extended the Crusaders lead eight minutes after some relentless work from the red and black scrum. A tap and go from Mitchell Drummond found Talitui who crashed over before Mo’unga added two more. 28-3
An intercepted pass by on the Crusaders side of halfway by Selestino Ravutaumada earnt the visitors some enthusiasm heading into halftime, the score as the teams ran to the sheds 28-8.
The second half was all Crusaders, starting with a captain’s try from Scott Barrett after some tidy work from an otherwise untidy lineout. Christian Lio-Willie finds the ball from the breakdown and offloads to Barrett who finds the line not far from the sticks. No issues from Mo’unga and the score is 35-8.
After an earlier try was disallowed due to being offside, Will Jordan made up for it after some great team work to get it deep into Drua territory. Jack Goodhue sucked in a few defenders to get the ball forward before Jordan spotted a gap and found the line near the uprights. Mo’unga on form to make it 42-8 after 68 minutes.
Minutes before the final whistle Willi Heinz finished off what the forwards started. He finds the line right next to the post, making for easy work for Fergus Burke. Final score 49-8
Hosting the Drua in Christchurch brought the energy and the fans, and we’re stoked we got another chance to play against a proud and strong team.
Focus now turns to Friday night. The Blues are back in Christchurch for this one. Last time they were here we sold out the stadium so expect not only tactics and preparation, but also a big crowd!