Scott Robertson insists injury-hit Crusaders remain on track

Nor does it need to be pointed out there’s a sense among punters that the chasing pack have closed the gap and the red and blacks are vulnerable.

That’s the result of a heavy loss to the Highlanders, and their narrow golden point win against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Sunday.

Five minutes of carnage in Wellington resulted in the addition of All Blacks Joe Moody and Jack Goodhue to a mounting casualty ward, also fuelling the narrative the 11-times champions aren’t the usual Crusaders.

Crusaders wrap up golden-point win

The scores were level 17-17 at halftime and 27-27 after 80 minutes, both teams each scoring three tries.

The match then went to 10 minutes of extra time, with the win going to the first team to score.

That was the Crusaders, second five-eighth David Havili capitalising on a charge-down to sink a dropped goal after barely a minute.

Last night's game between the Chiefs and Highlanders in Dunedin also went to golden point, Damain McKenzie kicking the match-winning penalty for the visitors.

Strong finish earns Highlanders upset win

The Highlanders had dropped six players, including All Black Josh Ioane, for the match after they breached team protocols last weekend.

Sione Misiloi, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Patelesio Tomkinson joined fullback Ioane on the sidelines.

The win came after last week's 30-19 loss to the Hurricanes, and means the Highlanders move off the bottom of the standings and into third place with only their second win so far this season.

Rokocoko reveals Crusaders approached the wing about a move south

With exceptional top-end pace, a sidestep to rival the greats and what seemed like a permanent smile painted on his face, it was hard to find fault with the flying Fijian – and the man who eventually graced the cover of revered video game Rugby 2005.

Despite all his obvious up-sides, however, there were times when the rocket man struggled for minutes with the Blues. In those early days, including in 2003 when the Blues last won a Super Rugby title, the Auckland-based side had outrageous depth in the outside backs.

Mo'unga magic underpins Crusaders win

Mo'unga scored 28 points - a try, four conversions and five penalties - with Jack Goodhue, Codie Taylor and Sevu Reece also crossing for the Crusaders.

A big crowd had turned out at Eden Park hoping to see the home side snap a 12-match losing streak against the Crusaders going back to 2014, but the reigning champions took their chances clinically to extend their lead at the top of the standings.

Rivalry revived as Blues host Crusaders at Eden Park


Encounters between the powerhouses were highlights of the early days of professional rugby but the fixture lost its lustre as the Blues struggled and the Crusaders thrived.

The Blues have been revived after a decade in the doldrums, however, and Leon MacDonald's side are viewed by many as the only team that can prevent the south islanders from taking a fifth successive Super Rugby title.

Crusaders lock in second rower Mitchell Dunshea with a new contract extension

It no doubt comes as welcomed news for both Crusaders and All Blacks fans, with the 25-year-old having been on the cusp of an All Blacks debut last year.

Despite not initially being involved in Ian Foster’s plans, Dunshea was called into the squad as an injury replacement for fellow Crusaders second rower Quinten Strange.

In fact, he was one of four locks from the Super Rugby side to have been involved in the national setup last year, alongside regulars in Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock.

Crusaders' tackle machine Tom Christie dislocates shoulder

The Crusaders have confirmed Christie, who was forced to leave the field during the second half of the 39-17 win over the Chiefs in Christchurch last Saturday night, will have to undergo “further investigation and specialist review’’ over the next few days to determine the appropriate management of the injury.

Further details will be revealed this week, but judging by the discomfort Christie appeared to be in during the Super Rugby Aotearoa match at Orangetheory Stadium, he’s expected to be scratched from the game against the Blues at Eden Park.

Crusaders crush Chiefs with second-half blitz

After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Crusaders hit their straps in the second half after leading 11-10 at the break.

Last year's champions scored four second-half tries, dominating possession and restricting the Chiefs to a consolation 72nd minute try to winger Etene Nanai-Seturo.

The Chiefs had started well, Damian McKenzie's try coming after just three minutes on the back of a strong run after the Chiefs moved the ball wide with purpose and precision.

Crusaders downplay Richie Mo'unga's heavily strapped knee

The Crusaders’ pivot caught the eyes of punters and pundits for it playing against the Hurricanes on Sunday, and was again strapped up for the team’s training session in Christchurch on Tuesday.

However, assistant coach Scott Hansen, who works closely with Mo’unga and the team’s other inside backs, said there was no need be alerted.

“I think it’s just Rich going through what he needs to do for training and a game. It hasn’t influenced his performances, he is happy enough,” Hansen said.