Highlanders second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu brushes off the
tackle of Crusaders hooker Ben Funnell on his way to the
tryline in Oamaru last night.
More of this and they will be hanging from the rafters at
Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The Highlanders had an impressive 38-21 victory over the
Crusaders in Oamaru last night, showing they are running
nicely along as the season looms.
The home team scored six tries to three and ran away with the
game in the second half.
The Crusaders did not help themselves by making wholesale
changes at the break but never really fired a shot in the
second 40 minutes.
The Highlanders on the other hand looked dangerous on the
counterattack and the home side's backs were able to bust the
line numerous times.
Much has been written about him in the past six months and
what he is doing in the Super 15 but if he repeats what he
did last night for the rest of the season then it will be all
positive for Ma'a Nonu.
First five-eighth Lima Sopoaga dives over the line to score
against the Crusaders. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Nonu was strong, quick and most importantly very, very on
the money. He scored the first try of the game and was strong
on running the ball up. He was quick off his line and never let
anyone past him.
Other big names who have come into the franchise this season
Tony Woodcock got through a solid 50 minutes and Brad Thorn
was all over the park,John Hardie worked hard in the 50
minutes he had on the field.
Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod said the performance
was a step up from last week, when the side had lost to the
''We tided it up in some things during the week and got a
little bit more clarity in what we were trying to do,''
''Ma'a should be reasonably happy in what he did, and running
with the ball. There was a little bit of rustiness there in
his lines and his tackles but he showed some real enthusiasm
and that rubbed off on the other players.''
McLeod said the side also showed more passion at the
''We were reading that a bit quicker and when to really go in
and attack the ball and then when not to.''
McLeod had praise for the inside backs with Lima Sopoaga
tidying up his game and attacking the line well.
Hayden Parker came on for Sopoaga early in the second half
and also played well, managing to score two tries, one a nice
run through a broken Crusaders defence.
McLeod said in some areas they were looking good two weeks
out from the start of the competition but there were still
plenty of things to work on.
The lineout was wonky and the scrum was untidy at times. The
counterattacking options could have been better, McLeod said.
No major injuries were recorded which was one good thing.
Jarrad Hoeata left the field early but it was just a stinger
to his chest area.
The Highlanders started well, Nonu smashing his way over
after 10 minutes and Buxton Popoali'i added another five
minutes later after a nice ball from Sopoaga.
The Crusaders came back but attacking on the line near
halftime the Highlanders stole the ball and proceeded to win
a kick and chase with Hosea Gear ending up scoring.
The Crusaders scored a late try to make the scoreline a bit
Highlanders v Crusaders
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 Romano 2 tries, Kieran Fonotia try, Tom Taylor 2 con,
Tyler Bleyendal con