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Clinical Crusaders outsmart Bulls in the rain

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The Crusaders defeated the Bulls 33-14 at a wet and greasy AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

Five tries from Scott Barrett, Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue and George Bridge ensured the bonus-point victory for the Crusaders.

Goodhue grabbed a double as the eight-time Super Rugby champions ground the Bulls into the soggy Christchurch pitch.

This was a lesson in playing without the ball and taking your chances, and composure.

The Bulls dominated the opening exchanges, winning four penalties in the Saders’ 22.

Instead of taking the three, they continued to kick to the corner.

The South Africans have the best lineout in the tournament, winning 95 percent of their throws.

Travis Ismaiel’s fancy footwork put the Bulls on the board after the wing beat five defenders in the 31st-minute.

Goodhue’s second came in the 48th-minute, extending his team’s lead to 21.

Marco van Staden scored his first Super Rugby try, breaking through the middle the ruck to reduce the deficit.

However, the Crusaders hit back after some excellent aerial work by Manasa Mataele.

The wing beat Divan Rossouw in the air, Bridge gathered the loose ball and stretched for the whitewash to seal the deal for Kiwis.

They are a young team, still growing under Mitchell, but this was their worst performance of the season

Tactically, they got it wrong from the outset.

The Crusaders broke a two-match losing streak while the Bulls lose their fourth game in a row and their ninth consecutive loss in New Zealand.

The visitors started the match well, putting their hosts under pressure in the scrum, winning an early penalty.

The Bulls won four penalties inside the Crusaders’ 22 inside 12 minutes but did not take the points on offer.

One of the unwritten rules of rugby is to take your points, especially in wet conditions.

This is paramount against the tournament’s most successful franchise and on their home turf.

The Bulls attempted four lineouts and driving mauls which the Crusaders defended expertly.

They sacked three of them, winning two turnovers. As with champion teams, they took their first opportunity.

The Crusaders won a lineout and drove towards the Bulls’ try-line, splitting the maul and powering over through Barrett.

Tim Perry was yellow carded for a high tackle on Pierre Schoeman, however, down to 14 men, it was the home team who scored.

It came from another lineout and driving maul; two from two for the Kiwis.

John Mitchell’s side had 70 percent possession and territory (91 percent inside the opening half-hour) in the first-half but trailed.

Taylor was next to score after a driving maul, doubling his team’s lead.

However, after being under the pump, the Bulls hit back immediately.

Inspired by Ismaiel’s intelligent running and eye for a gap, they were on the board.

It came when the ball squirted out of the eight versus seven, scrum.

Embrose Papier gathered and popped to the winger, who cut inside two defenders and beat three more with some fancy footwork before crossing for the score.

Goodhue was soon over after some pick and drives, close to the line, again extending the lead to two converted tries before the interval.

The centre powered between props Trevor Nyakane and Pierre Schoeman.

More of the same from the Crusaders.

Goodhue was soon in for his second try of the game, beating two defenders to score under the posts. It all started with Handre Pollard giving away a mindless penalty.

Adriaan Strauss entered the game on 53 minutes for his 148th Super Rugby cap, equalling the great Victor Matfield for most Super Rugby games by a South African.

The Bulls were reeling at 28-7 down before Van Staden doubled their tally.

That was as good as it would get for the three-time former champions.

With time ticking away, Mataele’s superb aerial prowess beat Rossouw, allowing Bridge to collect the loose ball and go over for his team’s fifth try, securing the bonus-point win.

Final score: Crusaders 33 (21) Bulls 14 (7)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – Barrett, Taylor, Goodhue (2), Bridge
Pen –
Con – Hunt (4)
Drop –
Cards – Perry (Yellow 27th’)

Bulls
Tries – Ismaiel, Van Staden
Pen –
Con – Pollard (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Ref 1: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2: Richard Kely
TMO: Aaron Paterson

Teams

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8, Jordan Taufua, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tim Perry

Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Braydon Ennor,

Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Hendre Stassen, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Johnny Kotze.

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