Adam Whitelock’s first try in the Rebel Sport Super 14 helped the Crusaders to a hard-fought 11-7 victory over the Stormers in front of nearly 14,000 at AMI Stadium tonight.

Whitelock scored after 32 minutes, finishing a move on the right wing thanks to a great skip pass from fullback Leon MacDonald.

It means the Crusaders have won two in a row following their narrow win over the Waratahs in Sydney last week. Before that the Crusaders drew with the Western Force, snapping a three-match losing streak.

It was appropriate that Whitelock scored because he was busy all night for the Crusaders. His try came after the Stormers had opened the scoring through No8 Luke Watson in the 10th minute.

Watson received the ball 22m out and brushed off four would-be tacklers to dot down by the posts.

Willem De Waal kicked the conversion and the Stormers were 7-0 up with virtually their only possession of the game.

Stephen Brett narrowed the gap to 7-3 with a penalty after 24 minutes.

Shortly after Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis spilt the ball 22m out with the Stormers defence in disarray thanks to a fine piece of work from Brett, who chipped and regathered before passing to skipper Kieran Read, who fired a perfect ball to Ellis. Unfortunately the No9 couldn’t finish off and the chance was lost.

However, Whitelock soon showed the way with his try in the corner and the Crusaders went to an 8-7 lead which they would never relinquish.

The Crusaders seemed certain to cut loose after halftime but the match was even tighter in the second spell, with Brett’s penalty after 75 minutes the only score.

Crusaders openside flanker Nasi Manu went close after a planned lineout move but he was pushed out in the corner when centimetres from the try line.

It was a deserved win for the Crusaders against a Stormers team who were defensively very tough to break.

They were up very quickly on defence and possibly got a way with a few close calls in terms of offside.

Skipper Kieran Read said afterwards: “It was tough at times out there. Things didn’t really go our way but we just had to guts it out. We didn’t hold on to the ball as well as we should have. We turned it over too often and perhaps didn’t support the ball carrier enough.”

Isaac Ross was a standout for the Crusaders – his ball carrying, work in the lineout and catching of high kicks was outstanding.

Others to shine for the home team were Thomas Waldrom, again, and Brad Thorn. Lock Thorn showed some great skills and pace in the second half when kicking through and chasing.

No8 Waldrom’s workrate was again outstanding and he was substituted by Michael Paterson for the final 10 minutes – the only 10 minutes he hasn’t played for the Crusaders all season.

Jason Macdonald had a strong game at hooker and Read was solid on defence and attack again.

The backs had a bit of a tough night and struggled to penetrate. Casey Laulala, back from injury for the first time since the Hurricanes game, tried his best and he’ll be better for his run.

Ellis went off at halftime, replaced by Kahn Fotuali’i because of sore ribs.

Colin Slade, backing up from his blinder against the Waratahs last week, had another strong game on the left wing and Whitelock on the other wing was industrious as always.

The Crusaders play the Bulls next Friday night at AMI Stadium.

Crusaders – Try: Adam Whitelock. Pens: Stephen Brett 2.
Stormers – Try: Luke Watson. Con: Willem De Waal.

HT: Crusaders 8-7

1. Wyatt Crockett
2. Jason Macdonald
3. Bronson Murray (17. Owen Franks 68 min)
4. Isaac Ross
5. Brad Thorn
6. Kieran Read (c)
7. Nasi Manu (19. Jonathan Poff 64 min)
8. Thomas Waldrom (18. Michael Paterson 70 min)
9. Andy Ellis (20. Kahn Fotuali’i HT)
10. Stephen Brett
11. Colin Slade
12. Tim Bateman (21. Ryan Crotty 64 min)
13. Casey Laulala
14. Adam Whitelock
15. Leon MacDonald

Reserves not used:
16. Dan Perrin
22. Kade Poki