- Publish Date
- Saturday, 14 May 2016, 10:14AM
A truly heavyweight contest - in all senses - finished with the Highlanders beating the Crusaders to join their southern cousins at the top of the table, another reminder after they beat the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend that the champions still retain a knockout punch.
The three New Zealand franchises are equal top on 37 points after this bonus point victory from the Highlanders in a seething atmosphere under the roof in Dunedin, with the Crusaders retaining their top spot only by virtue of their better points differential.
After a tidy start from the visitors their ears were ringing against a Highlanders team who proved once again that they are among the best at beating even the tightest defences with their clever passes, angles of running and enthusiastic support play. Once the ball is in their hands, the excitement is palpable.
This was a game which began with ferocious intensity and stayed that way.
There was niggle throughout, a sinbinning for Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler, and several controversial decisions from referee Chris Pollock.
The fact these players know each other so well just added to the intensity, with former Crusader Luke Whitelock playing a blinder at No8 against All Blacks captain Kieran Read, Lima Sopoaga pulling the strings as usual at No10 and Elliot Dixon putting in his usual shift at blindside flanker.
The hero for the Highlanders, however, was centre Matt Faddes, an unheralded player who cut the Crusaders to shreds with his pace and made it a difficult night indeed for Kieron Fonotia.
Faddes scored two tries, that man Waisake Naholo also scored two - just like last week - and, with Liam Squire scoring one when he came on at loose forward the Crusaders were well and truly beaten.
Read the full report at NZ Herald
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