Crusaders

Crusaders scrape home for a draw with the Force

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The Force almost got their dream game in on Friday night. It came in front of a crowd of 30231 who went to the stadium expecting a hammering to the Force instead they saw the match of the tournament so far. For 80 minutes the loyal Force fans never stopped shouting for their team.


At no point did the Crusaders lead and in contrast the Force led until the last 5 minutes. The Force got the first try of the match and led the Crusaders for all but 5 minutes of the match.


In the first 15 the Force were a real Force and dominated the Crusaders as they were outgunned by the Australian newcomers. By half time the score was 14-5. Such was the pressure that the Force put on the Crusaders, their star Daniel carter missed three kicks at goal.


The Crusaders kept bashing away at the Force but they just could not get through. As many times as the Crusaders attacked the Force responded with attack and winning turnover after turnover.


Time after time the Force defence pushed the Crusaders attack over the line & into touch. In the line outs they stood up to the Crusaders with confidence. The only thing that let the Force down was the restart.


With just over ten minutes to go the Force were cut down to 14 men as Gareth Hardy was sent to the cooler and this let the Crusaders in. The Crusaders used the number advantage which allowed MacDonald in for the try. Rico Gear followed up with another try.


In truth the only time that the Crusaders were equal to the Force was when the home team was down to 14 men.


After the Crusaders leveled the scores it looked like the Force were going to win it with a minute to go as they looked to have scored two tries in the last minutes but both were not awarded.


The first of those took about 5 minutes to decide and the result was inconclusive really because the lines were so faded due to a bit of rain earlier in the day. Haig Sare appeared to score the try and to be safe but the TMO denied him.


The second initially looked to be a charge down but was called back as a knock forward.


The result was more than the Super 14 leaders deserved and had the TMO given what many will feel was the correct decision the result would have been very different.


The Force will surely be lifted to new heights by this result and with a South African tour ahead of them where they play the Cats, Sharks & Cheetahs they will believe that they can now get their first win of the year. The most likely will be at Ellis Park against the Cats who are now only two points above them.


The Waratahs who have the BYE this week will be delighted as the Crusaders still have to travel to Loftus to face the Bulls. The Waratahs may still get that home semi final and the Force may still get their first win this year.


Final score Force 23 – Crusaders 23


Force


Tries – Shepherd, James, Conversions – Shepherd, Penalties, Shepherd 2


Crusaders


Tries – Tuiali’i, MacDonald, Gear, Penalties – Carter 2


Teams


Western Force:


15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Haig Sare, 13 Josh Graham, 12 Scott Staniforth, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Scott Daruda, 9 Matt Henjak, 8 Scott Fava, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 David Pusey, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Pat O’Connor, 3 Angus Scott, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Gareth Hardy.


Reserves: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 David Te Moana, 18 Luke Doherty, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Chris O’Young, 21 Brock James, 22 Tajhon Mailata.


Crusaders:


15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Caleb Ralph, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.


Reserves: 16 Tone Kopelani, 17 Greg Somerville, 18 Johnny Leo’o, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Kevin Senio, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Casey Laulala.

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