Crusaders

Mo'unga magic underpins Crusaders win

Mo'unga scored 28 points - a try, four conversions and five penalties - with Jack Goodhue, Codie Taylor and Sevu Reece also crossing for the Crusaders.

A big crowd had turned out at Eden Park hoping to see the home side snap a 12-match losing streak against the Crusaders going back to 2014, but the reigning champions took their chances clinically to extend their lead at the top of the standings.

Rivalry revived as Blues host Crusaders at Eden Park

     

Encounters between the powerhouses were highlights of the early days of professional rugby but the fixture lost its lustre as the Blues struggled and the Crusaders thrived.

The Blues have been revived after a decade in the doldrums, however, and Leon MacDonald's side are viewed by many as the only team that can prevent the south islanders from taking a fifth successive Super Rugby title.

Crusaders lock in second rower Mitchell Dunshea with a new contract extension

It no doubt comes as welcomed news for both Crusaders and All Blacks fans, with the 25-year-old having been on the cusp of an All Blacks debut last year.

Despite not initially being involved in Ian Foster’s plans, Dunshea was called into the squad as an injury replacement for fellow Crusaders second rower Quinten Strange.

In fact, he was one of four locks from the Super Rugby side to have been involved in the national setup last year, alongside regulars in Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock.

Crusaders' tackle machine Tom Christie dislocates shoulder

The Crusaders have confirmed Christie, who was forced to leave the field during the second half of the 39-17 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch last Saturday night, will have to undergo “further investigation and specialist review’’ over the next few days to determine the appropriate management of the injury.

Further details will be revealed this week, but judging by the discomfort Christie appeared to be in during the Super Rugby Aotearoa match at Orangetheory Stadium, he’s expected to be scratched from the game against the Blues at Eden Park.

Crusaders crush Chiefs with second-half blitz

After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Crusaders hit their straps in the second half after leading 11-10 at the break.

Last year's champions scored four second-half tries, dominating possession and restricting the Chiefs to a consolation 72nd minute try to winger Etene Nanai-Seturo.

The Chiefs had started well, Damian McKenzie's try coming after just three minutes on the back of a strong run after the Chiefs moved the ball wide with purpose and precision.

Crusaders downplay Richie Mo'unga's heavily strapped knee

The Crusaders’ pivot caught the eyes of punters and pundits for it playing against the Hurricanes on Sunday, and was again strapped up for the team’s training session in Christchurch on Tuesday.

However, assistant coach Scott Hansen, who works closely with Mo’unga and the team’s other inside backs, said there was no need be alerted.

“I think it’s just Rich going through what he needs to do for training and a game. It hasn’t influenced his performances, he is happy enough,” Hansen said.

Crusaders cruise after Savea sin bin costs Hurricanes

The match had been moved from Saturday in the hope coronavirus restrictions would be lifted to allow a crowd for the reigning champions' first home match of the season.

Fans saw a game that pivoted on Ardie Savea's first half yellow card, with the Crusaders scoring three converted tries to take a commanding lead while the forward was off the field.

Scott Robertson's team notched up the win after opening their campaign with victory over the Highlanders in last week's first round.

Coles still out for Hurricanes, 10 All Blacks in Crusaders XV

Coles is battling a niggly calf injury which kept him out of game one.

New All Black Peter Umaga-Jensen, who came off the bench in the loss to the Blues in Wellington last weekend, will start at centre this week and is the only change head coach, Jason Holland, has made to the backs.

In the forwards Isaia Walker-Leawere takes over from the injured Scott Scrafton at starting lock, Reed Prinsep replaces Vaea Fifita at blindside and Du'Plessis Kirifi starts ahead of Devon Flanders in the loose forwards.

Kirifi is at openside with captain Ardie Savea shifting to No.8.

'I have a few tricks': New meets old as Sevu Reece prepares for showdown with former All Black

In fact, Reece featured in just a solitary match – New Zealand’s loss to Australia in Brisbane.

Instead, new coach Ian Foster favoured utility back Jordie Barrett on the right wing, while the likes of George Bridge, Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane were given chances on the left.

That’s despite Reece playing a key role in the Crusaders securing a fourth title on the trot, featuring in all seven of their matches and finishing the season as the competition’s second-equal top try scorer.

Some things never change, the Crusaders are favourites

The Crusaders are again favourites to win a Super Rugby title.

The second edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off this weekend with the Highlanders hosting the Crusaders and the Hurricanes hosting the Blues, the Chiefs have the bye.

Scott Robertson's team won six of their eight games in 2020 to win the inaugural local competition to add to the three straight Super Rugby titles they won from 2017 to 2019.

Heading into his fifth season with the franchise, Robertson is confident complcency won't be an issue and says his desire for success hasn't waned.