Another chapter has been written in the storied history of Crusaders vs Reds with an away victory for the New Zealand side at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane in Round 6 of Super Rugby Pacific.
The Crusaders pulled together a 25-12 win against the team from Queensland in front of a 15,000-strong crowd, humid conditions making for a slippery night with ball in hand.
Serial try-scorer Leicester Fainga’anuku dotted down in the 21st minute after an inside pass from Richie Mo’unga found a gap in the Reds’ defense. With seven tries in three games, Faina’anuku continues to be a star scorer for the competition, currently first equal for most tries scored in the ’23 season.
After an earlier successful penalty from Richie Mo’unga, the score after 23 minutes was 10-0.
Noah Hotham notched up his first start for the franchise on Friday, quickly becoming a key figure in the Crusaders attack. Just before the clock ticked over 30 minutes the 19-year-old dummied a pass to break through the Reds’ defense, passing to Dom Gardiner who drove over the line for his first-ever Super Rugby try. No extras from Mo’unga, score after 31 minutes 15-0.
Tate McDermott crashed over a few minutes later, converted by Isaac Henry to go into halftime 15-7.
The second half started with some grinding work from the Crusaders forward pack to bring the red and back within reach of the Reds’ tryline. Willi Heinz finally got over the line, putting the finishing touches on what otherwise was a team and Tamaiti Williams try. Converted by Mo’unga to mae it 22-7.
Jordan Petaia, who shares the try-scoring leaderboard with Fainga’anuku, closed the gap for the Reds minutes later with an unconverted try. Mo’unga slotted a penalty in the 65th to bring up a scoreline of 25-15.
Things could have been different in the dying seconds should Fraser McReight have made it to the line. But there was Fainga’anuku again with a guaranteed try-saving tackle in the 80th minute. Final scoreline was 25-15.
Both Crusaders captain Scott Barrett and first-five Richie Mo’unga described the game as “scrappy”, with some missed opportunities and messy ball. Regardless the southern franchise extend their winning streak against the Reds to 12.
Reds 53% | 47% Crusaders
Reds 50% | 50% Crusaders
Reds 532 | 380 Crusaders
Reds 15 | 19 Crusaders
Reds 7 | 2 Crusaders
Reds 85% | 88% Crusaders
Tries: T McDermott, J Petaia
Conversions: I. Henry (1/2)
Tries: L. Fainga'anuku, D. Gardiner, W. Heinz
Conversions: R. Mo'unga (2/3)
Penalties: R. Mo'unga (2/2)
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