Crusaders beat Moana Pasifika 41-7 in Super Rugby Pacific, Blues also win

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — The Christchurch-based Crusaders fielded an under-strength team but still took a vital bonus point Friday from a 41-7 win over Moana Pasifika in Super Rugby Pacific.

A week after losing 71-22 to the Wellington-based Hurricanes, Moana Pasifika conceded six tries in losing their last home match of the season. For the Crusaders, the win moved them to second place at the start of the 13th round.

The Crusaders were able to rest many of their front-line players but still get the job done, keeping up with their rivals in the contest for top-four places.

Four of the Crusaders’ tries came in the first half after which they led 29-0. They managed only two tries to one in a second half which was much more evenly contested.

“Our focus was to start well, especially playing into a stiff breeze that required us forwards to set the play,” Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said. “I thought we did that quite well to start with.

“Moana showed a bit of physicality towards the end there. I’m just pleased with how this group went. There were quite a lot of young boys here and they rolled their sleeves up tonight with a lot of effort.

The Crusaders dominated possession in the first half, especially inside the Moana Pasifika 22 and took their chances efficiently. Macca Springer scored two of their tries before halftime and Will Jordan scored one and had a strong hand in others.

Christian Lio-Willie scored their first try after 10 minutes, starting inside their own 22 and stringing together many passes. Jordan made an early break and handled again before the end as Jack Goodhue and Corey Kellow also kept the movement alive before Lio-Willie took the last pass to score.

Springer scored the first of his two tries in the 20th minute and added his second just before halftime, after Jordan had scored from a failed clearance by Moana Pasifika.

Moana Pasifika defended more effectively in the second half and the Crusaders had to go to their lineout drive to score again through hooker Brodie McAlister.

Tima Fainga’anuku put Moana Pasifika on the board with a try in the 53rd minute but Scott Barrett added a final try for the Crusaders who were bruised by a physical encounter.

Moana Pasifika produced some strong attacking play in the second through players such as Levi Aumua and Timoci Tavatavanawai but weren’t able to close the gap further on the Crusaders.

In the second match Friday, the Auckland-based Blues overpowered the Queensland Reds 45-26 in Brisbane. The Reds were the first team to beat the Chiefs this season last week, ending a 10-year losing streak in New Zealand.

But it was a different Reds side on Friday. The Blues ran in six tries to four and moved into fourth place in the standings, leaving the Reds in seventh place and in danger of missing the playoffs.


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