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Bridge at the treble as Crusaders crush the Cheetahs

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 29: George Bridge of the Crusaders during the Super Rugby match between Toyota Cheetahs and Crusaders at Toyota Stadium on April 29, 2017 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Crusaders mauled the Cheetahs and remain the only undefeated team in Super Rugby after a comfortable 14-48 win at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein.

George Bridge scored a hat-trick and David Havili grabbed a brace in a masterclass attacking display as the Kiwis made it nine in a row.

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Richie Mo’unga collected 18 points with a try of his own and 13 from the boot as the Crusaders ran riot.

Franco Smith’s men had no answers for the pace and power of the seven-times champions, who led by 15 at the half.

The New Zealanders stepped up a gear after the break, scoring four more tries as Bridge collected his treble and his team, the bonus-point.

The opening quarter was tight, with both sides scoring tries; only a point separated the two after Raymond Rhule’s try cancelled out Havili’s first.

Bridge’s first try came with four minutes remaining in the half – and just prior to a moment that caused some controversy.

The winger drove the ball into traffic, bounced Johan Coetzee, charged through two more tackles and carried Nico Lee on his back as he scored.

Next came a bizarre piece of officiating. Referee Federico Anselmi called the TMO after Sergeal Petersen scored, finishing off a superb bit of prop-forward play by Ox Nche.

Somehow, Johan Greeff in the booth saw a forward pass and the try did not stand. From the next phase, the Crusaders landed a devasting blow to their opponents.

Bridge, hugging the sideline, collected a beautiful long-range cross-kick from Mo’unga. The winger caught the ball, stepped inside three defenders and ran clear to score under the poles.

The 14-point swing broke the Cheetahs resistance.

Armandt Koster was sent to the bin for a cynical infringement at the breakdown and Mo’unga scored his try.

The first-five ran an arced run, drew Niel Marais and rounded the flyhalf to score under the poles: easy as you like.

Nche did find time to score a sensational five-pointer of his own. The prop, starting in the flyhalf pocket, charged through a big hole and beat all the Crusaders’ defenders to the try-line.

That was as good as it would get. The Crusaders proceeded to score two tries in two minutes. First, Havili crossed for his second, to extend the lead to 14-36, after Mo’unga’s conversion.

A minute later, Mitchell Drummond was put away by Havili, rubbing salt into the Cheetahs’ wounds. This was a capitulation akin to the Chiefs defeat.

On 70 minutes, Bridge scored his third. The Crusaders shifted the ball wide, Bridge stepped inside, from near the touchline, and skipped past five cover defenders for an epic piece of finishing.

Crusaders’ skipper Sam Whitelock and Mitchell Hunt were yellow carded in quick succession.

The Cheetahs made their two-man advantage count. Peterson scored, Marais kicked the conversion and the game was over.

Final score: Cheetahs 21 (7) Crusaders 48 (22)


Tries – Rhule, Nche, Petersen
Pen –
Con – N. Marais (3)
Drop –
Cards – Koster (Yellow, 44th minute)

Tries – Havili (2), Bridge (3), Mo’unga, Drummond
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (5)
Drop –
Cards – Whitelock (Yellow, 73rd minute), Hunt (Yellow, 78th minute)

Match Officials
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2: AJ Jacobs
TMO: Johan Greeff



15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.

Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Niell Jordaan, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Clinton Swart.


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 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele

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