Super Rugby

Clinical Crusaders cruise past resilient Reds

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Crusaders beat Queensland Reds 37-15 in the first Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.

The Crusaders continued their dominance over the Queensland Reds with an 11th straight Super Rugby win over the Australians to book another home semi-final in the Garden City.

Queensland has still not won in New Zealand since 2013 and their last win over the 10-time champions was the 2011 Super Rugby final at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Scott Robertson’s men again outscored Brad Thorn’s side four tries to two in back-to-back trans-Tasman clashes in New Zealand.

Robertson’s charges booked their quarter-final spot with a 28-15 win over Thorn’s men at the same ground the previous weekend.

Queensland’s dismal record continues in New Zealand with a 20th consecutive loss – the last time the Australians beat the Crusaders in Canterbury was back in 1999 at the old Jade Stadium.

The only difference is that Richie Mo’unga added three goals due to the nature of finals football.

But the Saders are impregnable at home, winning yet another home knockout/playoff game.

The tournament’s most successful franchise has now won 25 Super Rugby finals matches out of 25 (100% success rate), which is incredible and almost incomprehensible in professional sports.

Will Jordan and Suliasi Vunivalu both cross as the Crusaders took an eight-point halftime lead.

The Crusaders, however, pulled away despite Filipo Daugunu’s second-half score making it a one-point game.

Mo’unga, Sevu Reece, and Tamaiti Williams – a late replacement for Finlay Brewis – all scored after the interval.

The majestic Mo’unga propelled his side to victory with a flawless display (7/7) from the tee. Mo’unga kicked three penalties and four conversions to go with his 57th-minute try (22 pts).

Jordan equalled Leicester Fainga’anuku at the top of the Super Rugby Pacific try-scoring list with a 10th five-pointer.

Reece went one behind his fellow back three counterparts with a ninth score of the campaign as the three playmakers top the charts.

Both teams scored a try apiece as the Crusaders took a 16-8 lead over the Reds into the sheds

Lawson Creighton opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty, but Mo’unga levelled four minutes later after the Reds botched the restart.

This would be the story of the half as the Crusaders dismantled the Reds’ set-piece. The hosts won two scrum penalties and should have scored from a driving maul but for Codie Taylor’s lax finishing.

Harry Hoopert and Feao Fotuaika suffered as the opposition front row went to town. The Reds lost three of five first-half scrums and lost two lineouts.

Super Rugby Pacific Quarter-final: Crusaders vs Queensland Reds, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

Things got so bad that Fotuaika got substituted for Sef Fa’agase with six minutes remaining in the half.

Jordan – who else? – slid over for the first try of the trans-Tasman quarter-final after a slick attack inside the opposition’s 22.

The Crusaders won a lineout and surged forward through Sevu Reece.

Bryn Hall switched the play and the Saders went wide to the fullback, who was pulled over the line by his own momentum as well as the tackler Vunivalu.

Mo’unga converted Jordan’s 10th try of the season and 35th in 43 Super Rugby matches. Unbelievable.

Ethan Blackadder won a crucial turnover to set up an attacking lineout on the visitor’s 22. However, a rare mistake from the forwards saw the opposition reduce the gap to two.

Taylor’s overthrown lineout was stolen by the Reds. Tate McDermott sent a long pass out to Jordan Petaia, who sucked in Jordan before sending Vunivalu away on the touchline.

Vunivalu still had to beat the two cover defenders and dot down before his knee touched the chalk. It was a stunning finish from the winger. Creighton missed the conversion.

George Bower, playing his 50th match, and Oli Jager was eating their opponents. Mo’unga knocked over another penalty as Fa’agase came on for Fotuaika.

A 13-phase attack ended with Mo’unga adding another goal to extend his side’s advantage with a minute to play.

The Reds got out of jail on the stroke of halftime. Fainga’anuku’s try was chalked off after the hooter because Jordan knocked on it forward in the lead up to the score.

Queensland struck soon after halftime, but the Crusaders power to victory thanks to Jordan, Fainga’anuku and Mo’unga’s stunning play

Thorn’s men came out firing after the break, scoring inside three minutes after the restart.

A slick backline move after the visitors earned a 50/22 lineout ended with Creighton putting away Daugunu, who dived over untouched. Creighton added the extras to make it 16-15.

The young standoff missed a sitter a few minutes later, but it did not matter in the end.

The Crusaders turned up the intensity, and the Reds leaked too many penalties as the Kiwis crushed the Australians in the last half-an-hour.

Two crucial turnovers inside the Reds’ 22 – one from Liam Wright at the breakdown and one after holding up a driving maul – kept Queensland in the game.

But another big scrum, this time on the Reds’ 5m, earned the hosts another penalty.

The Saders, instead of kicking to the corner or taking the points, took a quick tap under the posts.

The Saders’ maul had been iffy, but as the game wore on, the home forwards found their groove.

Scott Barrett went close before recycling to Hall to set up the score.

Mo’unga, standing deep, raced on to Hall’s pass before cutting inside Petaia and Harry Wilson to score his 29th Super Rugby try.

The 28-year-old first five-eighth converted to open up a two-score lead before the hour mark.

The game was over when a magnificent counter-attack finished with Reece dotting down

Jordan and Fainga’anuku’s linebreaks set up a thrilling score that saw Reece dance his way inside four defenders to effectively end the game as a contest as the Crusaders opened up a 15-point lead with less than 14 to play.

Jordan beat Vunivalu before sucking in Hunter Paisami to play Fainga’anuku.

The 22-year-old winger brushed aside Wright as he charged forward and bounced off McDermott, who left the field on a stretcher after being knocked out.

The ball was recycled quickly to Mo’unga, who sent a long cutout pass to David Havili, who played Reece on the sideline. The Fijian Flyer did the rest.

Mo’unga slotted his third conversion to make it 30-15 after 66 minutes.

Williams scored before the end, while George Bridge had a last-minute try chalked off because Williams lost the ball forward in the build-up.

It was inconsequential in the end as the kings of southern hemisphere rugby rolled on.

Final Score: Crusaders 37 (16) Reds 15 (8)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – Jordan, Mo’unga, Reece, Williams
Pen – Mo’unga (3)
Con – Mo’unga (4)
Drop –
Cards –

Reds
Tries – Vunivalu, Daugunu
Pen – Creighton
Con – Creighton
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Mabey
TMO: Glenn Newman

Teams

Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Oli Jager, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.

Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Tom Christie, 21 Mitch Drummond, 22 Braydon Ennor, 23 George Bridge.

Queensland Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Tate McDermott (co-captain), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (co-captain), 6 Seru Uru, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Feao Fotuaika, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Harry Hoopert.

Replacements: 16 Richie Asiata, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Connor Vest, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Fraser McReight, 22 Kalani Thomas, 23 Hunter Paisami.

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