BNZ Crusaders make a storming start to their South African leg
- Created: 22 April 2017
Heading for the South African leg of their Investec Super Rugby campaign, the BNZ Crusaders achieved a bonus point 57-24 win over the Stormers in Christchurch on Saturday.
It was a record win for the BNZ Crusaders, surpassing their highest score of 51 in Cape Town in 2003 and 2005 and they remain unbeaten for the season while the Stormers head to Dunedin to play the Highlanders having successive consecutive losses, their first for the season.
Twenty-eight minutes of unbridled Crusaders rugby at the end of the first half recalled memories of a bygone era while shutting the Stormers out of their game by the halfway stage at which point the margin was 36-3.
Handling of an unbelievable level, backed by support play and quick release of ball in the tackle left the Stormers little room to manoeuvre against a home town defence that was niggardly in the extreme when it came to leaving potential openings.
Left wing George Bridge made the most of the momentum to cross for tries in the third, 28th and 32nd minutes, all coming from well-timed passes, two short from second five-eighths Ryan Crotty and first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga respectively, and the third long from centre Jack Goodhue.
But more cheering from a New Zealand rugby perspective was the sight of No.8 Kieran Read, in his second game back from injury, patrolling his patch on either flank, depending on the flow of play, to score in the 36th minute on the left wing and in the 40th minute on the right.
It was sublime rugby, albeit assisted by some rub of the green in a couple of refereeing decisions, but such was the tempo there could be no complaint about playing to the whistle and executing with effect.
The quality of off-loads defied description. It seemed no member of the side was immune from backhand flicks, but especially memorable were those by Goodhue and hooker Codie Taylor in Read's first try.
It shaped as a perfect celebration of flanker Matt Todd's 100th BNZ Crusaders game. But in the third quarter the BNZ Crusaders lost their shape, something not helped by Mo'unga's attempt at a long pass which was intercepted by left wing Cheslin Kolbe who gave his side a pointer in racing 60m to score.
Then, after putting some sustained play together in the BNZ Crusaders' half, the ball was released via a pass along the ground from lock Eben Etzebeth, who was competitive throughout, to wing Bjorn Basson to score in the 52nd minute.
It proved a false dawn for the Stormers as the BNZ Crusaders struck back with two tries in two minutes, the first from a lineout drive to replacement prop Michael Alaalatoa and then after a storming run by fullback Dillyn Leyds an errant pass out from the Crusaders goal-line fell to replacement loose forward Pete Samu and he cleared out on a 75m run to score.
The Stormers did achieve one more score in the follow-up to a lineout move with replacement prop Frans Malherbe scoring late.
Crusaders 57 (George Bridge 3, Kieran Read 2, Michael Alaalatoa, Pete Samu, Manasa Mataele tries; Richie Mo'unga 6 con, pen; Mitchell Hunt con
Stormers 24 (Cheslin Klobe, Bjorn Basson, Frans Malherbe tries; Robert du Preez 3 con, pen). HT: 36-3
Match report courtesy of www.superrugby.co.nz