Crusaders crush Moana to keep Super Rugby title defence alive

rugby31 May 2024 10:15| © AFP
article image
Codie Taylor © Getty Images

Skipper Codie Taylor led from the front with two tries as the Crusaders kept their Super Rugby title defence alive Friday with a 43-10 beating of Moana Pasifika, whose dream of making the playoffs ended.

The seven-tries-to-one bonus point victory in Christchurch nudged Rob Penney's side into eighth place on the 12-team ladder after their 14th and last game of the regular season.

Their fate is now in the hands of Fijian Drua, who will book the last quarterfinal berth available if they beat the debt-laden Melbourne Rebels – who will not be part of the 2025 season – at home on Saturday afternoon.

"It'll be the first time I'm going for an Australian team tomorrow, so it's a bit unique," said Taylor.

"We knew what was needed tonight and really proud of the boys' effort. I feel we did exactly what we talked about in training.

"The season that's been hasn't really set ourselves up like we wanted to be, but we've still got a chance."

The Crusaders' stirring 29-27 win over the Blues last weekend kept them in the playoff hunt and they opened with intent against Moana, launching waves of attack.

The visitors struck first against the run of play when William Havili nailed a penalty.

But the hosts kept coming and got on the board after 17 minutes when flanker Ethan Blackadder crashed over, and added a second converted try five minutes later courtesy of Taylor, both from rolling mauls.

A smart set-piece from a lineout saw Fine Inisi cross for Moana, but he was then sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on that opened the door for the Crusaders.

Taylor bagged his second, again from a maul, before centre Ryan Crotty darted through a hole as they took a 26-10 lead to the break.

They added a fifth try soon after the restart with Noah Hotham collecting his own kick over the top. Further tries from Dallas McLeod and Macca Springer ensured the win and a nervous wait for the seven-time champions.

Moana will finish the season in 11th, regardless of what happens in the final games on Saturday that will determine who plays who in the knockout rounds.

So far, the only quarterfinal locked in will see the fifth-placed Reds travel to Hamilton to face the fourth-placed Chiefs.