Crusaders Stunned by Drua, Equal Worst Start to Super Rugby Season

Crusaders Stunned by Drua, Equal Worst Start to Super Rugby Season

The Canterbury Crusaders’ dismal start to the Super Rugby Pacific season continued on Saturday as they were stunned 20-10 by the Fijian Drua in Lautoka. The seven-time defending champions have now lost their first three matches under new head coach Rob Penney, equaling their worst start to a season since the competition’s inaugural year in 1996.

The Crusaders dominated the opening 20 minutes, taking an early 10-0 lead through a try from Fijian-born winger Sevu Reece. However, the Drua gradually gained momentum and leveled the scores just before halftime with a try from winger Selestino Ravutaumada.

The second half belonged to the Drua, who took control of the game and scored two unanswered tries. Scrum-half Frank Lomani crossed the line early in the half, and fly-half Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula added a late penalty goal to seal the victory.

Captain Scott Barrett admitted that the humid conditions in Fiji played a role in the Crusaders’ error-ridden performance. “We just weren’t sharp and clinical like we’d hope,” he said. “We were clear on our game plan, it was pretty simple, but we just didn’t execute.”

The result piles more pressure on Penney, who replaced Scott Robertson as head coach after Robertson left to coach the New Zealand All Blacks. Penney’s side has now lost to the Waikato Chiefs, New South Wales Waratahs, and Drua in their opening three matches.

Meanwhile, the Wellington Hurricanes remained unbeaten with a 29-21 victory over the Auckland Blues in Wellington. Winger Josh Moorby scored two tries for the Hurricanes, while Kini Naholo and Riley Higgins also crossed the line.

The Western Force joined the Crusaders as the only other winless team after going down 22-19 to the ACT Brumbies in Canberra. The Force led 14-0 but conceded the next 22 points to the Brumbies, who have opened the season with two wins from three games.