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Centurion Dagg guides Crusaders to win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/02/2017

Israel Dagg runs after the ball during their Super 15 rugby match against the Brumbies in Christchurch © AP Photo/Mark Baker Israel Dagg runs after the ball during their Super 15 rugby match against the Brumbies in Christchurch A pair of Israel Dagg assists has given the Crusaders their first round-one Super Rugby win in five years, overcoming the Brumbies 17-13.

The 28-year-old All Blacks gun made all the difference in Christchurch, putting his speed and step to good use with 12 carries, two offloads and five kicks.

But it was his pair of try assists that turned a tightly-fought match, throwing a long cut-out to Seta Tamanivalu to open the scoring before beating his man and offloading to give Whetu Douglas a five-pointer.

A third try to stand-in openside Peter Samu, filling in for Test No.7 Matt Todd, then gave the Crusaders enough breathing space to make it home.

"We looked really good when we held onto it and made good decisions," Crusaders skipper Sam Whitelock said.

"It's great we've started the season on the right foot."

The Crusaders emerged in a fearsome mood, dominating first-half territory and forcing the Brumbies to frequently kick clear.

It took just four minutes for the Cantabrians to take the lead, with Dagg handing Tamanivalu five points on a plate down the right edge.

Kiwi first five-eighth Wharenui Hawera responded with a Brumbies penalty but the Crusaders continued to control proceedings, with Dagg ever-present.

And it was the newly-contracted fullback, having signed on to 2019 last fortnight, who made a second assist in the 32nd minute by sending Douglas over.

Down 12-3 and struggling to get beyond the gainline, the Brumbies needed a quick second-half response to stay in the hunt.

Wallabies lock Rory Arnold duly delivered, taking advantage of a left-edge overlap in the 43rd minute to cross the line and reduce arrears.

The Brumbies had emerged the better side in the second stanza and kicked more accurately through Hawera, but struggled to overcome the Crusaders' line speed.

The Crusaders quickly hit back through Samu off the back of a scrum, before a second Hawera penalty goal set up a grandstand finish.

Yet the Crusaders held on with some dogged defending for a 17-13 triumph.

The 61-cap Dagg, who made his 100th Super Rugby appearance in the victory, said he would be content to stay in the red and black forever.

Boss Scott Robertson, meanwhile, said his side had plenty of energy but lacked the execution to rack up points.

They'll hope to keep their winning form going when they take on the Highlanders in Dunedin next week.

"I'm just glad to get off to a good start, it's been a long while for us as a club," Robertson said.

"We put a bit of pressure on ourselves and gave the ball back."

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