Attended the game at Levin, the Canes came out firing and managed to build around 20 phases before scoring through Vince Aso. The Crusaders then had a 15-20 minute period where they took control and scored 3 tries through dominant set piece and maul play. The Crusaders were also strong at the breakdown, negating a number of attacking plays by the Canes. 19- 7 halftime.
The second half started in similar fashion with the Crusaders scoring two tries and going about their work in a tidy fashion. The Canes then brought on the likes of Fidow, Aumua & Walker-Leawere and the game shifted towards the Canes who started to dominate the collision with their powerful running game - two quick tries to the Canes had them momentarily back in it, before the Crusaders deflated any hopes with a late try.
Standouts from the Crusaders:
Number 12 (name escapes me): this young fella looks very good, broke the line a couple times and was very hard to contain.
Jordan Taufua: He was brutal at times and looks even bigger than he was last year. Dominanted alot of contact that he was involved in and looks ready for a big year.
Bryn Hall: looked very tidy at the base of the scrum and was probably the pick of the halfbacks.
Standouts for the Canes:
Sam Henwood: he was into everything early on and will be a very good backup to Ardie this year.
Alex Fidow: Dominated with ball in hand and wasn't too bad at scrum time. Was a big reason for the Canes re-assurgence.
Asafo Aumua: physically dominated in the contact when he came on. If he isn't on the bench against the Waratahs I will be very suprised.
Worries for the Canes:
Ongoing selection of James Blackwell as a lock: he is far too small to be a lock. Crusaders were killing the Canes scrum when he was packing down.
Halfback: Jono Hickey was shocking, I lost count of how many times he dropped the ball or fumbled it at the base of the scrum. Halfback is a big worry if Perenara gets injured.
Fullback: The overated Chase Tiatia nearly played a whole game at Fullback because we had no one else in the reserves. Harken came on and finished there. A worry if Jordie gets injured.
All and all it was a nice afternoon up the coast, great crowd and no injuries to boot.
Bring on the Blues next week.