Phil Burleigh of the Highlanders tries to break a tackle.
Photo by Peter McIntosh
Ma'a Nonu made a bold statement in his first hit-out of
the season at Whitestone Contracting stadium in Oamaru tonight,
leading the Highlanders to an impressive 38-21 win over the
Nonu looked fit, strong and most importantly more than
interested as the Highlanders made a marked improvement from
last week when they lost heavily to the Chiefs.
Nonu scored the first try of the game, brushing aside a
couple of tacklers, and made metres whenever he had the ball.
The Highlanders pulled ahead in the second half after leading
19-14 at the break.
As befitting a pre-season match there was plenty of
inaccuracies and passes went to ground more than once.
But the Highlanders looked the better side while the
Crusaders, missing some of their stars, were subdued.
Also impressive for the Highlanders were halfback Aaron
Smith, flanker Joe Wheeler while John Hardie got round the
paddock in his first game at this level in nearly a year.
Luke Romano picked up two tries for the Crusaders but they
look as though they need plenty of work before the season
Highlanders 38 (Hayden Parker 2, Ma'a Nonu, Buxton Popoali'i,
Hosea Gear, Lima Sopoaga tries, Sopoaga 2 con, Parker 2 con)
Crusaders 21 (Luke Romana 2 tries, Kieran Fonotia try, Tom
Taylor 2 con, Tyler Bleyendal con) Halftime: 19-14.