The highly anticipated clash between the Crusaders and the Reds saw a convincing win for the kiwi side, as the respective champions battled it out at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Though the Reds came out firing with an early try attempt, momentum quickly changed as a dropped pass was soon picked up by Richie Mo’unga and he broke through to the try line. Converting his own try, the Crusaders opened the scoreboard 7-0.
Mo’unga backed this up with a break up the field, clearing almost 70 metres before offloading to Sevu Reece to get the try. Minutes later, David Havili burst through with an intercept and sent Cullen Grace straight across the line. A third conversion from Mo’unga put the score at 0-21, a strong start for the visitors.
Solid defence from the Reds looked to be holding the Crusaders back, when a scrum put a loose ball into space which Mo’unga took advantage of. He scored a second try and landed a fourth successful conversion 30 minutes into the game.
Tate McDermott came up short of the line in the 34th minute but gave the Reds a scrum, and McDermott was successful on his second attempt. Converted by James O’Connor, the score was 7-28 heading into half time.
Sevu Reece shone again coming into the second half, with impressive skills to keep the ball in field and finishing off Havili’s perfect kick to the corner - a second converted try to the winger.
The 54th minute brought Mo’unga’s first career hattrick. After a penalty kick, Mo’unga broke the Reds defence with some quick footwork, contributing to his final 31 points.
A great tackle from James O’Connor stopped a try from Leicester Fainga’anuku on the wing, but left the Reds under pressure with a Crusaders’ line out on their try line. A collapsed maul meant a penalty try for the Crusaders and yellow card for Reds’ prop Harry Hoopert.
The Reds responded with quick ball movement and a great run up the sideline for Harry Wilson; the conversion bringing the score to 14-49 with 20 minutes to go. Shortly after, Harry Wilson charged down to get the turnover and offloaded to Suliasi Vunivalu for another 7 points to the Reds.
As the clock ran down, strong phases from the Crusaders got Tamaiti Williams between the posts, scoring his first Super Rugby try. Patience from the visitors soon sent captain Codie Taylor across the line for the Crusaders’ 9th try of the game.
A yellow card was given to Will Jordan in the last two minutes, and the Reds finished strong with a converted try from Brandon Paenga-Amosa, putting the final score at 28-63 to the Crusaders.
Overall, the Reds lacked execution and the Crusaders pounced on those opportunities. The visitors played up-tempo, confident and accurate rugby, and will now turn their attention to the Waratahs, who they face in Wollongong next Saturday evening.
Crusaders 63 (Richie Mo’unga 3, Sevu Reece 2, Cullen Grace, Tamaiti Williams, Codie Taylor tries; penalty try; Mo’unga 8 cons), Queensland Reds 28 (Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Suliasi Vunivalu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa tries; James O’Connor 4 cons). HT: 28-7.