Former All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg has marked his return to Super Rugby in style, scoring twice for the Crusaders as they over-ran the Jaguares 32-15 in Christchurch.
Back for his first Super Rugby match of the season, seven months after suffering a serious shoulder injury, Dagg crossed for a try in each half on Friday as the Crusaders racked up their sixth win from seven matches.
First-half tries to Ryan Crotty, Dagg and Richie Mo’unga gave the Crusaders 22-3 halftime lead, and they ran in two more in the second spell to secure their third bonus point win of the season.
The Crusaders showed the same clinical finishing that has featured in their past five wins, mixing patience with bamboozling pace and accurate passing to run rings around the Jaguares in the first half.
In his 100th Super Rugby game, Crotty was a key figure with his pace, offloading and ability to straighten the attack.
Dagg was no less impressive – his quick hands and feet featured in the Crusaders’ first try as he broke the Jaguares’ line then found halfback Andrew Ellis on the inside for a clear run to the line.
The visitors’ indiscipline cost them a player after 23 minutes. Joaquin Tuculet earned a yellow card after killing the ball in his tackle on Johnny McNicholl just centimetres short of the line.
In his absence, the Crusaders scored twice. Dagg crossed for his first then Mo’unga ripped the ball from centre Jeronimo de la Fuente in the tackle for the Crusaders’ third.
The Jaguares struggled to hold on to the ball long enough to build any sort of pressure. Their first half was littered by missed tackles, a pedestrian and predictable attack, and an aimless kicking game.
Things improved somewhat for the visitors in the second spell. No.8 Facundo Isa hared down the blindside of an attacking lineout maul to narrow the gap with a hard-earned try.
But the Crusaders continued to dominate. Skipper Kieran Read and Dagg scored to extend the lead before inside centre Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias’s kick and chase earned the Jaguares a late consolation try.