Comeback kings Crusaders defy injuries to prevail, Highlanders also win at a cost


Crusaders defied a host of injury setbacks to pull off another magnificent comeback and maintain their 100 per cent start to the Super Rugby season with a thrilling 22-20 victory over Queensland Reds.

Scott Roberston's men came from 21 points down to beat Highlanders last weekend and were again forced to rally from behind on Saturday after conceding the first 17 points.

To make matters worse, Crusaders saw All Blacks Israel Dagg and Seta Tamanivalu leave the field with injuries early on, along with Peter Samu.

Yet the visitors to Suncorp Stadium were nevertheless able to strike back, Bryn Hall's second-half brace reducing the deficit to a solitary point before Mitch Hunt kicked a match-winning penalty after the hooter. Hall's second try also came with Jordan Taufua in the sin bin for throwing a punch, albeit one that barely connected.

Crusaders skipper Sam Whitelock said: "We had some injuries, but the guys who came on really gave us something. I'm just really proud."

James Slipper, captain of the beaten Reds, added: "It's pretty gutting. We came here to win and put ourselves in a position to do that, but this Crusaders team, they proved it last week, they don't give up."

Highlanders were also forced to overcome the loss of two New Zealand internationals as they claimed a first win of the season, edging out Blues 16-12 with Malakai Fekitoa scoring the only try.

Waisake Naholo and Lima Sopoaga each came off with hamstring injuries, to the despair of coach Tony Brown.

Brown was quoted by as saying: "It doesn't look good. It looks like Lima will be out for a while; Waisake probably the same. Hamstrings don't come right overnight so those guys are going to be tough to replace."