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Crusaders outclass Hurricanes

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The Crusaders crushed the Hurricanes 30-12 at AMI Stadium, Christchurch to book their record 13th Super Rugby final.

It is the Crusaders 35th finals match and 21st home victory, having never been defeated on home soil in the tournament’s history.

This was a procession; the defending champions dominated from the outset, running in four tries to two as the Hurricanes were blown away.

The Canterbury team had never lost to New Zealand opposition in 11 previous post-season games, or to the Wellington men in four previous knock-out games, and they were not about to start.

Tries from the majestic Richie Mo’unga and George Bridge, cancelled out Julian Savea’s contentious score for a 12-7 lead inside half-an-hour.

Mo’unga outclassed Beauden Barrett with the performance his career: he was master and commander.

The 24-year-old standoff broke 10 tackles with 12 runs, scoring 15 points as well as setting up Braydon Ennor’s try with a pin-point cross-kick.

Bridge’s score equalled Joe Roff, Ngani Laumape, Rico Gear, Taqele Nalyaravoro and Ben Lam’s 15 Super Rugby tries in a season.

Mo’unga kicked two late penalties to stretch the lead to 11 at the break.

Scott Robertson’s men, like a boa constrictor, strangled their opponents, suffocating them.

Their defence could not be breached as Ryan Crotty and Goodhue smothered the visitor’s attacks.

David Havili and Ennor’s second-half tries sealed the deal, booking the eight-times champions another home final.

Ben Lam scored his 16th Super Rugby-record try in a season, overtaking the aforementioned scorers.

This was billed as a ‘Clash of the Titans’; the two best teams in the competition brimful of class.

Jordie Barrett missed a long-range penalty in the third minute, but it was all Crusaders from then on.

They dominated territory and possession, the set-pieces as they took a firm grip on the game inside the opening quarter of an hour.

Mo’unga finished off with a show-and-go and dived in under the sticks.

Jack Goodhue started the move with a break.

The Crusaders went through a dozen phases using pick-and-drives before the standoff shrugged off a few tackles to score.

The Hurricanes hit back through Savea, four minutes’ later to level the scores.

The ‘Bus’ barged his way down the touchline to score in the corner.

He looked to have lost the ball – which seemed to out – in the act of grounding.

Savea also looked to be in touch. But the TMO could not find “definitive evidence” not to award the try because referee Jaco Peyper and his assistant Ben O’Keeffe, awarded the try before calling on the TMO.

The Hurricanes were having a nightmare with the restarts and their tactics looked out of sink with their usual game-plan.

They kicked away possession and did not use Ngani Laumape, their battering ram in midfield.

Jordie Barrett was a bystander and Lam and Savea hardly touched the pill.

The visitors were getting pinged at the breakdown and their handling was errant.

On 28 minutes, Matt Todd bounced his way through some poor defending to set up another attack on the Canes goal-line.

Scrumhalf Bryn Hall saw Bridge on the touchline.

He flung a long floated pass to the winger, who gathered and stepped inside Blade Thomson to score.

More pressure led to two penalties in the closing stages of the half which Mo’unga slotted, extending his side’s lead, giving them a cushion going into halftime.

The Hurricanes needed to start strong.

Forwards coach John Plumtree said during the interval that they needed to score next.

It was the hosts who came out firing, doing what they always do: score points either side of the break.

Havili’s try came from a poor kick by Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Goodhue broke, was supported by Kieran Read, who was tackled short.

Hall got quick ball from the ruck and the fullback bashed his way over.

It was game over.

The visitors could not find any rhythm, and the mistakes continued.

Possession was wasted and their heads dropped.

Crotty and Goodhue stood strong in midfield and Havili was a rock at the back.

Mo’unga was terrorising the opposition with his sniping runs and trickery.

He was ghosting through the Hurricanes, who had no answers to their opponent’s intensity and quality.

Beauden Barrett was a bystander, TJ Perenara neutralised, and the Canes pack dominated.

Todd was running riot.

Savea had to stop the powerful runner on the line.

The ball was recycled quickly and Mo’unga’s cross-kick was collected by Ennor to dot down.

Mo’unga missed the touchline conversion attempt, his only blotch on a near perfect display at first-five eight, but it was inconsequential.

Lam scored at the death, barging his way over Ennor after the hooter, becoming the highest try-scorer in the history of Super Rugby.

The Crusaders will play (beat) the winner of the Lions and Waratahs match in Christchurch next weekend.

Crusaders versus Hurricanes video highlights

Final score: Crusaders 30 (18) Hurricanes 12 (7)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – Mo’unga, Bridge, Havili, Ennor
Pen – Mo’unga (2)
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Hurricanes
Tries – J. Savea, Lam
Pen –
Con – B. Barrett
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: Shane McDermott

Teams

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.

Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Gareth Evans, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith.

Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Wes Goosen.

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2 Comments

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