June 05, 2021
Fijian winger Manasa Mataele scored the opening try for Crusaders in their 29-21 win over the Western Force in Round 4 of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman last night.
Despite resting a number of their stars, the Crusaders held off a spirited effort from the Force, on a night where their defence outshone their attack.
The Force enjoyed a great start when they attacked from a set-piece on the halfway line via a flying Toni Pulu, who stepped one defender and outpaced the rest while flyhalf Domingo Miotti added the conversion to give them a 7-0 lead.
The Crusaders struck back ten minutes later with a turnover in the midfield by Whetukamokamo Douglas who slid the ball towards Mataele to chase, collect and celebrate the first try.
After setting up an attacking lineout, silky hands through the backline saw Will Jordan slide over in the corner and flyhalf Fergus Burke filled the conversion and Crusaders led 12-7.
Almost inevitably, Crusaders mauled it over the line and Whetukamokamo Douglas was awarded his first Super Rugby try, extending their lead by 17-7.
But the Force bounced back just two minutes later as the Perth-based franchise showed good patience and got just reward 11 phases later when eighth man Ollie Callan crashed over from close range with a try.
Force captain Kyle Godwin was penalised for a neck-roll and Crusaders took advantage with flanker Sione Havili Talitui scoring and Burke added the extras to extend their lead by 24-14at halftime.
In true Crusaders style, scrumhalf Bryn Hall fired a flat ball out to Jordan who crashed over for his second of the night, taking the lead to 29-14.
In the dying embers of the game, the Force went coast-to-coast, recognising there was no one at home at fullback, Godwin hoofed the ball downfield for Sevens star Jordan Olowofela to chase and he gathered to go over untouched and Miotti kicked the final conversion.
By Romeka Romena