Leicester Fainga’anuku has been extraordinary once again tonight for the Crusaders on the wide left. He too scored another set of tries (two this time) as always with explosive finishing before he earned a well-earned rest with 14-15 mins left. Every time he has the ball & sees that gap into space, there’s no way the opposition couldn’t stop this speedster when Leicester challenged a few defenders well before he was able to find the score zone & that helped the Saders build a decent lead gap away from the Brumbies. Now that they’ve got back-to-back wins, 2023 could still be even better for him not just in SR but also at All Blacks level as well with RWC around the corner.
Now Ethan Blackadder may have made the Brumbies difficult to crack his side’s brick wall at the beginning before he had to leave the field ahead of HT due to injury, but Christian Lio-Willie filled the void very well in his place on the blindside back row. He too is an able defender while offering so much attacking contribution where Lio-Willie finally got his first SR try not long before full-time, having been denied an TRY earlier in the 2nd 40. We’ll wait & see about Blackadder’s condition in the next few days, but looks like he’s at the right place to being given an extended spell & prove what it takes to fulfil his potential after a few years in Dunedin.
And Cadeyrn Neville stood up for the Brumbies against an outstanding Crusaders at times tonight on the second row (No.5 shirt). His impressive physicality & towering height helped them gain some confidence including the early headstart via the three-point penalty goal, before he dug a deeper hole in the attack that saw Ryan Lonergan earn the team’s first big points in the 2nd half. So can’t go past an important team player & well-built athlete like Cadeyrn who doesn’t give them a free pass under his tracks. It’s just a shame that his side couldn’t match the Saders attacking standard where they were a long way behind for the majority.