The Crusaders beat the Highlanders with a 32-30 bonus point win in an all-New Zealand Vodacom Super Rugby clash at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday. The Saders’ victory ascended the side to the top of the New Zealand Conference and the Highlanders’ two bonus points put them on the cusp of fourth position. The visitors kicked off the encounter on a high note to brush off last week’s loss to the Cell C Sharks by applying pressure to the hosts.
Jordan Taufua scored the Crusaders’ first try when he darted on a direct route to the try line to dot the ball down, but the home side was able to make a comeback when Richie McCaw was yellow-carded and they took full advantage as Aaron Smith lined the ball to Ged Robinson in the 24th to score his try. Patrick Osborne scored the Landers’ second try a few minutes later and when McCaw returned from the sin bin his side was trailing by two points as the score sat at 12-10 going in to the break.
The Canterbury franchise came back offensively and Tim Perry put his side in the lead, but Lima Sopoaga evened the scores with a penalty. Nepo Laulala scored the third one for the visitors and Nemani Nadolo seemed to seal it for his side when he scored the fourth try. Fekitoa snatched one for the Highlanders with less than 15 minutes to go and Hayden Parker’s conversion left the home outfit needing a converted try to seal the win.
Ben Smith’s bonus point try and Parker’s sideline conversion set the game up for a grandstand finish with the Crusaders hanging on for a 32-30 lead in the final minutes.