This was always going to be an intense battle and slightly slippery conditions underfoot didn't help either team hold onto the ball when they looked for opportunities to run. Lima Sopoaga opened the scoring with a penalty, but the Crusaders struck back almost instantly with a try to Matt Todd on the left wing. The Highlanders then had to endure 10 minutes without Sopoaga after he received a yellow card in the 8th minute for a shoulder charge on his opposite first-five and ex-teammate, Colin Slade. After holding the Crusaders scoreless for the 10 minutes Sopoaga was off the field almost as soon as he returned the Crusaders went over for their second 5-pointer with Taufua burrowing over the line. Sopoaga then closed the gap with a penalty goal with 20 minutes left to play before the break. The remainder of the half saw play move its way up and down the field as both sides fought for territory only to lose the ball at crucial moments. Just as the first half came to a close Sopoaga made a big break through the middle of the park, offloading to Ben Smith who ran the final 40 to score, making it a one point ball game going into the sheds.

Shortly after played resumed Waisake Naholo ran the Highlanders into the lead with his 5th try of the season after interceppting the ball from 50m out with the Crusaders hot on attack. It wasn't long before Naholo nabbed his second try of the game after a trademark bullet pass from Aaron Smith straight into the Fijian flyer's hands. Slade closed the gap with a penalty with 25minutes left on the clock and then the Highlanders defended wave after wave of Crusaders attack for the remainder of the second half as the home side chased the win. The Crusaders managed to bring the score within 7 points with 5minutes left on the clock after another Slade penalty to set up a nervous last few minutes but the Highlanders would not give up and fought until the final whistle for a well-deserved victory!



Tries - M.Todd, J. Taufua
Pen - C.Slade 2
Con - I.Dagg, C. Slade

Tries - B.Smith, W.Naholo 2
Pen - L.Sopoaga 2
Con - L.Sopoaga 2
Cards -L/Sopoaga (8th min yellow)

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