Debutant's double can't stop Crusaders' crushing win over Waratahs

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Defending Super Rugby champions the Crusaders have picked up where they left off last season, beating the Waratahs 43-25.

A second-half double to exciting debutant Mark Nawaqanitawase briefly gave the Tahs hope, reducing the margin to six points before the Crusaders hit back with thee more tries to seal the match.

Nawaqanitawase delivered on the promise he has shown through the Junior Wallabies, NRC and pre-season trials to show he is worthy of an ongoing place in Super Rugby.

The flyer eventually got the Tahs on the board, stepping inside his man and diving over to plant the ball one-handed after the visitors chanced their hand on the back of a penalty advantage and Jake Gordon delivering a long pass to Nawaqanitawase on the flank.

When he took an intercept just four minutes later and raced 40m to score, it was suddenly game on, with the Tahs trailing just 24-18.

But in a trend that plagued them all match, the Tahs made too many errors and missed too many tackles to be consistently competitive and were punished by the Crusaders.

Waratahs captain Rob Simmons it was a disappointing result given the chances his team had botched.

"We created a lot of things but we just couldn't capitalise on them," Simmons said.

"And they punished us on the turnovers. Credit to the Crusaders, they showed us that if you give them a sniff they're going to come and keep coming all day."

Both teams have undergone great change after an exodus of players following the World Cup.

The Crusaders dealt with that best, showing patience in the opening arm wrestle before building pressure and pouncing on the Tahs' errors.

The home side piled on three first-half tries to lead 24-6 at the break and while they looked briefly vulnerable, they bounced back with another three tries before Alex Newsome notched a late consolation for the visitors.

Simmons praised the work of the teams young players - as well as Nawaqanitawase, Junior Wallabies teammates Will Harrison, Angus Bell and Carlo Tizzano made their Super Rugby debuts in Nelson.

"I was happy with all our guys, there's some exciting inexperienced guys there and they're going to get some experience and keep coming on," he said.

The teams traded penalties early, Harrison, knocking the kick over to tie the scores up at 3-3 after David Havili's early strike.

But the Junior Wallabies flyhalf followed that good work with an error, failing to find touch from inside his own 22 and handing possession back to the Crusaders.

They made the most of the chance, with Will Jordan eventually crossing, beating the tackle attempt of Nawaqanitawase.

Harrison knocked another penalty over in the 19th minute but it was one-way traffic after that, the Crusaders running in tries to Braydon Ennor and Leicester Fainga'anuku as the Tahs failed to deal with the tactical kicking game of the Crusaders and committed several errors of their own to increase the pressure.

Kurtley Beale looked to have scored midway through the period to help his team back into the match but a pass from Jake Gordon to Harrison early in the movement was ruled forward.


Things improved little early in the second half, with the Waratahs butchering a four-on-two chance and failing to score.

Nawaqanitawase's double got the score back to 24-18 but the Jekyll and Hyde Tahs reared their heads again, dropping their intensity, with Ennor racing over for his second to increase the buffer to 11 points heading into the final quarter.

Jordan scored his second just minutes later, the Crusaders taking a quick drop out at the 22 and going almost the length of the field to score, with players lining up in support.

Luke Romano sealed the win, powering over off the back of a lineout to score.

Alex Newsome scored a consolation try in the final minute, put into a hole off a short pass from Jed Holloway to allow them to reduce the final margin to 18 points.

RESULT

CRUSADERS 43

Tries: Jordan 2, Ennor 2, Fainga'anuku, Romano

Cons: Havili 5

Pens: Havili

WARATAHS 25

Tries: Nawaqanitawase 2, Newsome

Cons: Harrison 2

Pens: Harrison 2