WATCH: Leicester Fainga’anuku rounds off ACROBATICALLY in Crusaders’ win over Blues
Leicester Fainga’anuku was the Crusaders’ hero as he scored a scintillating try in his team’s 15-3 victory over the Blues in Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific derby in Christchurch.
As the scoreline suggests, this was a tightly contested encounter, and both teams deserve plenty of credit for putting in huge defensive efforts.
Although there were few try-scoring opportunities, the Crusaders‘ attack had their arch-rivals at sixes and sevens in the 43rd minute when they launched an attack from midway between the visitors’ 22-metre line and the halfway mark.
Braydon Ennor straightened the line before throwing an inside pass to David Havili just outside the Blues‘ 22, and he did brilliantly to beat three defenders before offloading to Fainga’anuku out wide.
Hoskins Sotutu came across on cover defence to halt Fainga’anuku’s progress, but the 23-year-old kept his composure before crossing the whitewash in acrobatic fashion for a deserved try.
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The match was played at a high intensity and with great physicality throughout, and we had to wait until the half-hour mark for the opening points when Quinten Strange crossed for a well-taken try after Codie Taylor did well in the build-up.
Richie Mo’unga added the extras before Beauden Barrett slotted a penalty for the Blues shortly afterwards, but Mo’unga also succeeded with a three-pointer off the kicking tee in the 39th minute which gave the Crusaders a 10-3 lead at half-time.
In the build-up to Fainga’anuku’s five-pointer, Blues skipper Dalton Papali’i put in a high and dangerous tackle on Mo’unga and referee Nic Berry initially issued a yellow card for the offence.
However, after a review by the TMO, it was upgraded to a red card, and the Blues had to play with 14 men until the 64th minute, when they were allowed to replace their captain with Akira Ioane.
Although the rest of the match was a frantic affair as both sides launched several attacks, a combination of handling errors and excellent defence meant Fainga’anuku’s try was the only points in the second half, and it sealed the Crusaders’ victory.
Video credit: Super Rugby Pacific
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