Vodacom Super 14

Crusaders flex their muscles

2009-05-08 11:06
Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw (Gallo Images)
Christchurch - The Crusaders picked up a four-try bonus point with a 32-12 win Friday over the Reds to preserve their slender hopes of defending their Super 14 title.

The Crusaders started the 13th round of the 14-round regular season in sixth place and improved temporarily to fourth with their seventh win of the season, although other matches in the round are likely to force them down the table.

The defending titleholders and seven-time champions now face a last-round match against the Blues in Auckland from which they may also need five points to have any chance of reaching the tournament playoffs.

The Crusaders played conservative rugby in cold, wet and slippery conditions to overwhelm an injury-hit Reds side. Kicking for territory, then using close passing among the forwards to advance the ball, the Crusaders had three tries and a 20-0 lead by half-time.

Both sides scored two tries and 12 points in the second half but the Crusaders maintained an insurmountable advantage.

"Considering the conditions, I think we played some good rugby," Crusaders and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said.

"We played at the right end of the field and created some good chances. Unfortunately we weren't able to take all the chances we created but we wanted five points, we got five points and we're happy."

Four of the seven tries in Friday's match went to forwards as tactics were dictated by the conditions.

The Crusaders led with an early penalty to All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald, playing his 119th match for the Crusaders in his last Super 14 season. A 15th-minute try to No 8 Thomas Waldrom, converted by MacDonald, gave the Crusaders a 10-0 lead and put them on course to a comprehensive win.

Prop Owen Franks scored the Crusaders' second try after 26 minutes and center Tim Bateman added their third three minutes before half-time.

Hooker Jason MacDonald scored the first try of the second half, extending the Crusaders' lead to 27-0 and replacement Sean Maitland made it 32-0 after 60 minutes.

The Reds hit back with late tries to Ben Tapuai, in his Super 14 debut, and to veteran prop Greg Holmes.


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