If you ever wanted to see a glimpse into the future of the Crusaders franchise, look no further than their performance versus Moana Pasifika at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on Friday 19 May.
With tries from Christian Lio Willie, Macca Springer, Brodie McAlister and Fergus Burke, topped up by tries from senior players Will Jordan and Scott Barrett, the depth of the red and black talent pool was on show as we near the last rounds of regular competition play in Super Rugby Pacific ’23.
The score was 41-7 when the final whistle blew, after being 29-0 at half time. Scoring opened within 10 after a string of exceptional offloads. Will Jordan started deep in the Crusaders half, breaking through the 22 before a team effort surged play up the park.
Jack Goodhue and Corey Kellow found another 10 metres before offloading to Tamaiti Williams who found Noah Hotham. He found McAlister who found Jordan who was denied with metres to go. Jordan popped the ball up for Lio-Willie who crashed over for the fiver.
Fergus Burke slotted the extra to make it 7-0 after 11 minutes.
The momentum continued for the visitors who enjoyed much of the possession in the first half. Burke made the most of a penalty before the game reached its quarter mark and the score was 10-0.
Moments later some razzle dazzle. Deep in Moana territory a Crusaders lineout, Hotham with a box claimed by Chay Fihaki who spun out of defense to find captain Barrett and then McAlister who went to ground. Some excellent carries across the front of the posts and the ball was with Macca Springer. He ran the last metres on the left wing before finding airtime and touching down to make it 15-0. No extras from Burke.
Kellow found the line a few minutes later off the back off some quality work from the forwards, but TMO found a knock-on earlier in the sequence so no points.
And back comes the razzle. Jordan guides a kick down the left sideline, tidied up before finding Jordan again to wander over the line for another try. Burke finds the goods to make it 22-0 after 36mins.
Two minutes later the boys found the try line again, this time through halfback Noah Hotham who found a gap in the defense to run it himself under the posts. Burke converted and it was 29-0 at half time.
The game restarted and within six minutes a McAlister line out is driven towards the line, the hooker joining the fray before picking and ploughing down to make it 34-0. No Burke extras.
Moana Pasifika got on the board through Tima Fainga’anuku – Leicester’s older brother – who capitalised on earlier work from Levi Aumua. Converted to make it 34-7.
The night was capped off with a skipper try in the 67th. A lovely ball from Zach Gallagher out the front of the uprights found Barrett hands with Burke easily slotting the extras. Final score 41-7.
While you can’t turn your nose up at a scoreline like that, Crusaders coaches and players at half time and full time said there was work to do in some areas for the red and black – execution of opportunity and discipline.
Regroup and regather for the Waratahs at home in Christchurch next week – all part of Crusaders Connection Week which runs from 22 May.