The Crusaders have come up trumps in Melbourne, storming to an emphatic win over their South Island counterparts.
The Highlanders and Crusaders squared off for the opening act of Super Round in Melbourne on Friday night, the first of six matches between now and Sunday.
It was the boys from Christchurch that walked away with the goods, dotting down seven times to Highlanders’ two, bringing up a final score of 52-15.
Sevu Reece crashed over the try line in the 13th minute after the Highlanders opened their account with a penalty, and it quickly turned to one way traffic until deep in the second half.
Jack Goodhue left the field injured in the 15th, replaced by Braydon Ennor who clocked some decent game time.
As the clock ticked over half an hour, Richie Mo’unga dazzled the sideline, running 50m to set up a Fergus Burke try under the posts. Burke was playing fullback with David Havili back in 12.
Tries from Joe Moody (40th), Richie Mo’unga (42nd), David Havili (48th), Codie Taylor (57th) and Leicester Fainga’anuku (68th) solidified the bonus-point win for the Crusaders, topped off by seven conversions and a penalty from Mo’unga.
A highlight from the team, mentioned in post-match interviews by both Mo’unga and Captain Scott Barrett, was halfback Noah Hotham’s debut in the jersey. The 19-year-old had never been to Melbourne before and told local media earlier in the week he was still pinching himself to be playing alongside veteran All Blacks and top national talent.
The Crusaders travel back to Christchurch before heading to Fiji next weekend to face the Drua. Some big weeks ahead and we’re frothing to properly climb into the season. Crusade on.