The Ganellen Blues U20s won the battle for tries but went down 34-24 to the Crusaders in a mighty battle on the first day of the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa Under-20 tournament in Taupo.
The boys in blue fought fiercely but found themselves significantly on the wrong side of the penalty count, with the Crusaders converting five kicks to go with their three tries.
The Ganellen Blues U20s found plenty of positives with four tries along with a superb scrum and more than useful lineout against their bigger opponents.
“It was a good experience for us but just a bit disappointing because we did so many things well,” said head coach Steven Bates.
“Our scrum was outstanding. We knew they would come but we took it to them in that area and came out on top. Our lineout and our lineout defence were outstanding.
“Our defence got a bit narrow from time to time but we certainly won a lot of collisions.
“We let ourselves down a little in kick-chase and we didn’t connect in that area. And the discipline hurt us. That is the beauty of this competition – we trained twice a week for eight weeks and you can’t cover everything. The stuff we didn’t train today bit us. It was good learning for us but a bit disappointed we did not win.”
The Ganellen Blues U20s fought back from two early Crusaders’ penalties with a penalty try after five successive scrum penalties inside the 5m mark.
Manu Paea took advantage of another penalty with a quick tap to score under the posts but the Crusaders bounced back with a try and two late penalties to lead 17-14 at halftime.
The Ganellen Blues U20s got the lead back with a Jock McKenzie try but the Crusaders bounced back with a maul try to reclaim the lead 24-19.
They added a further penalty and a driving maul try to a superb try for Soane Vikena for the final 34-24 scoreline.
The Ganellen Blues U20s face the Barbarians on Wednesday at 11.30am kickoff.
CAPTION: Soane Vikena makes a strong run to score a try
Credit: Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images