Crusaders humiliate Queensland Reds
May 11, 2014
Johnny McNicholl and the Crusaders ran through and over the Reds in the second half
© Getty Images
The Crusaders produced a second-half whirlwind to overwhelm Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, scoring four converted tries in 18 minutes after the resumption as they racked up their highest ever points tally away from home. Rod Davies and Rob Simmons thereafter scored tries for the Reds to claim a four-try bonus point for the hosts, but the Crusaders also had the last word when Johnny McNicholl iced the victory with an intercept to bag his second try of the match.
The Reds in the first half seemed to have addressed their defensive frailties that had hampered their season to this point, but they were shredded by the Crusaders from the opening minute of the second stanza - undone by poor tackling, lamentable kick-chasing and, as they chased the game, poor decision-making. Their dismal performance, admittedly against surging opponents who had scored 40 points at home to the Brumbies the week prior, will certainly see the pressure mount on head coach Richard Graham as his team is on the equal-worst losing run - five - in Queensland Super Rugby history; only the 2007 wooden spooners among their predecessors had lost five consecutive games.
Reds captain James Horwill said the hosts "did some silly things that allowed [the Crusaders] get the bounce of the ball" in the second half.
"And they're a good side," he said. "That's what they're good at: they capitalise on your little mistakes, and they did that. Two soft tries at the beginning of the second half isn't good enough.
The Crusaders overran the Reds in the second half (video available only in Australia)
"We didn't do what we said we were going to do, what we did in the first half. In the first half, we pressured well down their end; we mixed up our run and kick game, which was working well for us; and we got the points on the back end. In the second half, we didn't do that. We didn't chase hard on our kicks, we allowed them time and space; we allowed them to dictate terms, and they're a good side. They punish you."
Crusaders captain Ryan Crotty said the visitors always believed they could "go on with it".
"We knew if we stopped making mistakes in our own half, and turning the ball over and giving them possession, that we could go on with it," Crotty said. "We just made a conscious effort to look after the ball a bit more in the second half, and thankfully we scored a few more points."
Queensland showed in an exciting first half they had come to play even after their disappointing recent efforts, jumping to a 17-10 lead with two sweet backline tries while the visitors were down a man with halfback Andy Ellis in the sin-bin. But their second-half capitulation ended a 20-match run of home victories when leading at half-time.
The Reds looked so good when Dom Shipperley crossed for their second try in the first half © Getty Images
The Crusaders rampaged from the moment the second half kicked off, and prop Wyatt Crockett scored in the 43rd minute when he caught out lazy defenders with a quick tap from a penalty conceded as the Crusaders rumbled over the line after 15 phases. McNicholl crossed two minutes later for the first of his two tries, after a terrible kick and chase by the lethargic Reds, and the Crusaders then killed the game when Luke Whitelock sprinted away after no Queensland players had contested a high ball on halfway.
Quade Cooper did set up three of the Reds tries but he also delivered a poor second-half display, which included the easy intercept try for McNicholl.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd with AAP
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