Crusaders humble Brumbies
May 3, 2014
Sam Whitelock produced a strong effort up front
© Getty Images
The Crusaders produced a strong performance to defeat the Brumbies at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, dominant in all facets as All Blacks captain Richie McCaw played his first game after two months on the sidelines with a fractured thumb.
McCaw played a full 80 minutes as the Crusaders racked up their sixth win from nine starts, 78 minutes as openside after Matt Todd was sidelined early with a calf injury. The Crusaders lost two more players to injury inside the first 20 minutes - centre Kieron Fonotia pulling up lame after six minutes and his replacement, Tom Taylor, benched with a head knock 10 minutes later - but they were untroubled on the scoreboard.
Ryan Crotty, the Crusaders' captain in the absence of Kieran Read, through concussion, described his side's performance as "very pleasing".
"We know they're a very good defensive side and they don't leak many points per game," Crotty said. "To come out and create the kind of quick ball we did tonight allowed us to really play, and it was very pleasing to score those points."
The Crusaders defeated the Brumbies with a dominant performance (video available only in Australia)
Crotty paid tribute to his tight forwards for the platform they laid. "We knew we needed to upset [the Brumbies' scrum] if we were going to be a chance. Their lineout is one of the best in the comp, and their scrum as well, so big props to our tight five; they really fronted."
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen lamented "little things", noting that penalties early "gave them momentum on the scoreboard and had us chasing" before lapses in the scrum and lineout cost the visitors in the second half.
"You're not going to get a result against a good Crusaders side unless you're solid in your set-piece," Mowen said. "We were there for most of the game and weren't there for parts; times that you're not, they score points."
Young Crusaders fans enjoyed the afternoon in Christchurch © Getty Images
Johnny McNicholl scored the only try of a penalty-littered first half right on 40 minutes, the Crusaders winger diving over out wide to finish a good team try as the hooter sounded to give his team a 22-6 lead at the break.
The Brumbies hit back early in the second spell as they finally attacked the breakdown with aggression and broke through some fractured Crusaders defence. Stephen Moore crashed over between the posts and the conversion narrowed the Crusaders' lead to nine points, but the Brumbies continued to concede penalties, and Crusaders pivot Colin Slade was deadly accurate in accumulating seven penalties as he racked up a game-high 23 points.
Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo extended the home team's lead on 52 minutes, racing away for his fourth try of the season after Sam Whitelock had charged down Matt Toomua's clearing kick from an attacking Crusaders scrum.
The Brumbies couldn't capitalise on the sin-binning of Crusaders replacement lock Luke Romano at 67 minutes, conceding another try as Luke Whitelock chased down a kick ahead to extend the lead to 40-13 before Pat McCabe picked up a late consolation two minutes from full-time.
Nemani Nadolo delighted the fans with his "Superman" try celebration © Getty Images
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September