Highlanders go AWOL in 2nd half

Highlanders flanker Shannon Frizell wins a lineout during his team’s round nine Super Rugby match...
Highlanders flanker Shannon Frizell wins a lineout during his team’s round nine Super Rugby match against the Crusaders at Christchurch Stadium last night. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
What did the Highlanders have at halftime - a pint of stout and a scotch egg?

Yes, it was a case of a good first half in Christchurch last night ... and let's not talk about the second.

The Highlanders led at the break 10-7 and had the better of the opening 40 minutes.

But it all went out the window in the second 40 as the Crusaders scored three tries in the first 15 minutes of the second stanza to pull away and eventually win by a resounding 43-17 scoreline.

The Crusaders had the ball on a string in the opening stages of the second half and the visiting side simply had no answer.

It was again those silly errors which plagued the Highlanders. Poor options, a lack of composure under pressure and a rush of blood to the head led to the Crusaders scoring 29 unanswered points before the Highlanders managed to get a try through Josh Ioane.

It was a shame for the visiting team to record such a heavy defeat in captain Ben Smith's 150th game.

He was at his usual high standard and looked lively and enterprising every time he got the ball.

Others to impress for the visitors were No 8 Elliot Dixon, lock Tom Franklin and flanker James Lentjes.

The Highlanders enjoyed three times as many penalties as the Crusaders, but their lineout lost shape the further the game wore on, so kicking for touch seemed pointless.

Referee Ben O'Keeffe handed out a yellow card right at the end to inaccurate Crusaders replacement hooker Ben Funnell, but that should have happened long before that.

The Highlanders had probably their best opening 20 minutes of the season.

It all started with captain Smith scoring after just over 120 seconds.

The Highlanders took the ball and smashed it up the middle.

The ball then came to Smith and, standing at first receiver, he rocketed through a gap between two forwards 15m out. A nice inside step then saw him past the final defender for the try.

Ioane converted and the Highlanders had made the dream start.

They kept up the pressure and were rewarded with Ioane knocking over a penalty just past the quarter hour. The Highlanders were forcing the home team into errors, turning over ball and making gains with the ball in hand.

The Highlanders needed to score more points from the pressure, but it all come to nothing.

Letting the Crusaders off the hook is dangerous, and so it proved when the home team scored just on the 25 minute mark.

Richie Mo'unga made a half break and fed the ball to fullback David Havili, who put away winger Braydon Ennor, who could not be stopped.

The Highlanders then had a golden chance to score when Matt Faddes grabbed an intercept and skipped clear.

But, carrying a knee injury into the game, he was quickly run down and that chance went up in smoke. Faddes left the field soon afterwards.

Super Rugby

The scores
Crusaders   43
Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Sevu Reece,
Mitch Drummond, Will Jordan tries; penalty
try; Richie Mo’unga 3 con, pen; Mitch Hunt con
Highlanders   17
Ben Smith, Josh Ioane tries; Ioane con, pen;
Bryn Gatland con
Halftime: 10-7 Highlanders
Crowd: 15,000

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