Crusaders repel the Highlanders

The Crusaders advanced to the Super Rugby semi-finals with a 17-0 victory over the Highlanders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.

Tries from Joe Moody and Codie Taylor proved too much for the Highlanders who went scoreless.

A state of emergency had been declared in Christchurch and Otago due to flooding. This meant the Highlanders were not able to fly out to Christchurch on Friday as their plane was grounded. Instead, they only arrived at 13:30pm on Saturday which must have affected their pre-match preparations.

It was a match played in extremely wet and cold conditions and both sides had to adapt their usual attacking tactics for a tighter, more controlled game.

The result means the Crusaders continue their excellent playoff record in which they have never lost a home playoff match over 16 games.

The Crusaders adjusted to the conditions better and completely dominated possession and territory. They kept hold of the ball well despite the difficult conditions whereas the Highlanders could not and often kicked possession away cheaply.

The Highlanders were forced to make a slew of tackles and had already made 100 tackles after 50 minutes compared to the Crusaders’ 38. This is simply because the Crusaders’ ball retention was far superior.

Also, the Highlanders were guilty of indiscipline, giving away seven penalties compared to the Crusaders’ two in the first-half. The second half was different and saw no penalties conceded in minutes 40-60.

It is not often the Highlanders are kept to zero, which is a combination of how good the Crusaders were and the conditions.

The Highlanders were dealt an early blow when Liam Squire was yellow-carded for a reckless tackle with five minutes gone on the clock. Richie Mo’unga put the Crusaders into a 3-0 lead from the resulting penalty.