Christchurch - The Crusaders juggernaut has hit top gear at the right time as
they rumbled into the Super 15 finals with a 38-6 demolition of the Cell C Sharks on Saturday. As it happened: Crusaders v Sharks
After a slow start to the season, in
which the Crusaders lost their first two matches, the seven-times
champions have put themselves in contention for their first title since
They outscored the Bismarck du Plessis-led Sharks five
tries to nil and continued a remarkable record of never having lost any
of the 16 play-off matches they have hosted.
Whether they will
also have a home final next weekend depends on whether the Brumbies
beat the Waratahs in the other semi-final later Saturday.
Waratahs win, the final will be in Sydney.
The talk before the
match was whether the Crusaders would be able to match the feared Sharks
forwards, but instead it was the Sharks who lost lineouts, scrums and
eventually conceded a try from a lineout drive.
"We knew that's where the game was going to be won or lost," Crusaders captain Kieran Read said.
started really well and were able to put a lot of pressure on them. We
played at a pretty high tempo early which probably set the scene."
South African side has ever won a play-off match in New Zealand and the
Sharks never looked like changing that record, leaving Du Plessis
distraught as not only was his pack pounded but the backs had a
nightmare time from well directed kicks by Israel Dagg.
absolutely, extremely disappointing. Everything we worked on in the last
two weeks -- we couldn't field the high balls, we didn't play in the
right areas -- I'm extremely disappointed in our performance," he said.
Dan Carter put the Crusaders on the board with a second-minute penalty,
Read scored the only try of the first half when the Crusaders pounced
on a wayward clearing kick by Paul Jordaan.
Nemani Nadolo ran the
ball straight back at the Sharks and world player-of-the-year Read
finished off the move when he swatted aside an attempted Jordaan tackle
to score under the posts.
Carter landed the conversion and two
further penalties while Patrick Lambie landed two penalties for the
Sharks to have the Crusaders ahead 16-6 at half-time.
second half the Crusaders ran the heavier Sharks pack to a standstill as
they produced a further four tries to Nemani Nadolo, Willi Heinz,
Johnny McNicholl and Matt Todd.
Heinz try came when the Crusaders
demolished a Sharks' defensive scrum and Todd scored when the Crusaders
used the Sharks ace move of a lineout drive.
Crusaders: 38 - Tries: Kieran Read, Nemani Nadolo, Willi Heinz, Johnny McNicholl, Matt Todd; Conversions: Dan Carter (2); Penalties: Carter (3)
Sharks: 6 - Penalties: Patrick Lambie (2) TeamsCrusaders
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Kieron Fonotia, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Richie McCaw, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Johnny McNichollSharks
15. SP Marais, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Pat Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Tera Mtembu, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. S'bura Sithole, 23. Tonderai Chavhanga