June 10, 2023
The defending champion Crusaders have advanced to the Super Rugby Pacific semi-finals with victory over a team that beat them during the regular season.
The Christchurch-based Crusaders scored two tries in the first five minutes and four in the first half on the way to a 49-8 win over the Fijian Drua, who beat them in Lautoka, Fiji in round three.
Hooker Codie Taylor scored two first-half tries as the home side unleashed their forward power against a Drua team playing in the quarter-finals for the first time.
The Crusaders stung the Drua with tries to prop Oli Jager and hooker Taylor inside the first five minutes and added a second to Taylor and another to back-rower Sione Havili-Talitui before the Drua brought their fans to their feet with an intercept try to winger Selestino Ravutaumada.
The 11-time champion Crusaders led 28-8 at halftime and lock Scott Barrett started the second half with a try.
But the Crusaders began to lose their shape when they drained their bench and the Drua opposed them more physically.
Having used up the full bench so early, they were forced to finish the match with 14 players when back-rower Zach Gallagher limped from the field in the 64th minute.
They extended their lead despite that disadvantage when fullback Will Jordan, who had one try disallowed, scored another in the 66th minute.
They finished with a try to halfback Willi Heinz in the 78th minute and will next host the Auckland-based Blues in the semi-finals.
CRUSADERS 49 TRIES: Jager, Taylor 2, Havili Talitui, Barrett, Jordan, Heinz CONS: Mo'unga 6/6, Burke 1/1)
DRUA 8 TRIES: Ravutaumada CONS: Lomani 0/1 PENS: Lomani 1/1)
CRUSADERS (1-15): Tamaiti Williams, Codie Taylor, Oliver Jager, Scott Barrett (c), Quinten Strange, Sione Havili Talitui, Tom Christie, Christian Lio-Willie, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo'unga, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, Dallas McLeod, Will Jordan
RESERVES: Brodie McAlister, Kershawl Sykes-Martin, Reuben O'Neill, Zack Gallagher, Ethan Blackadder, Willi Heinz, Fergus Burke, Chay Fihaki
DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahirwau Cirikidaveta, Vilive Miramira, Motikiai Murray, Meli Derenalagi (c), Frank Lomani, Caleb Muntz, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Teti Tela, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese
RESERVES: Zuriel Togiatama, Meli Tuni, Samuela Tawake, Etonia Waqa, Elia Canakaivata, Peni Matawalu, Michael Naitokani, Eroni Sau
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, Matt Kellahan