Crusaders crush Melbourne Rebels 42-17 in a one-sided Super Rugby Pacific Super Round clash at AAMI Park, Melbourne.
Ethan Blackadder bagged a quick-fire second-half brace to propel the Crusaders to another comfortable Super Rugby victory against Australian opposition.
Blackadder had a field day, he beat five defenders with three linebreaks from 12 runs, while making the most tackles (11) for his side.
Cullen Grace, Bryn Hall, Tamaiti Williams, and Leicester Fainga’anuku also scored as the Saders ran in six tries in Victoria.
Reece Hodge scored 12 points, he landed one penalty, scored, and converted both tries.
The Rebels scored three points in the first 40 minutes, and only scored the rest in the final nine minutes; they were blown away after the break.
An off-colour Crusaders dispatched the meek Melbourne Rebels in another lopsided Trans-Tasman mismatch.
The designated hosts only led 7-3 at the interval; however, the Christchurch team kicked into gear.
They cut out their handling errors, increased the tempo, and cruised to victory thanks to five second-half tries.
Scott Robertson’s men continue their dominance over the Rebels, winning their sixth Super Rugby match in a row against the Aussies.
Another defeat for Kevin Foote’s side sees his side slip to the eighth loss in their last nine games at home.
The majestic Richie Mo’unga leads the way for his side
Richie Mo’unga, flawless in every department (5/5 cons, 10 pts), tore through the porous Rebels defence with several linebreaks.
It was another Mo’unga masterclass. He made three linebreaks and assisted two scores while breaking eight tackles for 68 metres.
The first five-eighth targeted the opposition’s forwards and scythed through them for Grace’s first-half score.
Grace set up Blackadder’s first score as the Crusaders’ back-rowers ran riot.
Pablo Matera was magnificent in his best game since joining the Crusaders from the Jaguares.
He beat five defenders with three linebreaks from 13 carries for 99 metres, while being instrumental in Williams’ try.
More Mo’unga magic set up Williams’ 63rd-minute five-pointer.
Fainga’anuku could have had three or four tries this afternoon but for mistakes. The 22-year-old flyer beat four defenders from two linebreaks for 107m off 12 runs.
The winger was solid in defence, he made nine tackles, the second most behind Blackadder, and four more than Matera.
The Crusaders, somehow, only led by four points at halftime despite cutting the Rebels apart willy-nilly
Fainga’anuku, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, and George Bridge could have all had a couple of tries each but for poor handling.
Robertson’s men began like a house on fire, tearing Foote’s team apart.
The 10-time Super Rugby champions had the better territory and possession. They made more than 40 passes more than the opposition, and ran for 423m to 125m.
The Saders counter-attacked from their 22 on multiple occasions, but could not finish off the home team.
Nine handling errors cost at least six tries, and several turnovers near the Rebels’ line allowed Melbourne to clear.
It took 20 minutes for the first points to be scored. Matt To’omua missed an early shot at goal before leaving with another head injury.
The Crusaders had been threatening to score since kick-off, and finally did.
Mo’unga side-stepped Josh Hill, and burst from halfway to the 22, before drawing Hodge and Carter Gordon to send Grace away untouched.
The All Black 10 converted; however, that was the last points of the half for the New Zealand champions. Some brilliant cover-defending by the hosts kept the Kiwis at bay.
The Rebels’ pack was creaking, but it was the home side who had a couple of chances at the end of the half.
Hodge hit the post from distance – the ball bouncing out for a throw – before slotting a last-ditch goal after the hooter.
The Crusaders come out firing, opening a big lead as the Rebels wilted in Melbourne
Robertson’s side increased their stranglehold on the game; they increased their territory and possession as they ran away with the points.
The Kiwis started the half well again. Fainga’anuku combined with the marauding Matera down the touchline.
The South American sped away before playing Mo’unga in support. Mo’unga cut inside the defenders and sent Blackadder away.
The 27-year-old playmaker should have sent Mitch Drummond away soon afterwards, but then he played the wrong man in support.
Hodge won the turnover penalty, and the hosts got out of jail. The Saders did, however, get over moments later.
Ennor’s linebreak opened the space inside the 22. Bridge sent a long cut-out pass to Grace on the touchline.
The No 8 sucked in the cover defender and popped to Blackadder on his inside for the 27-year-old flanker’s second score in eight minutes.
Mo’unga converted from the flag to open a 19-point lead.
Ethan Blackadder’s blitz blows Melbourne Rebels away as the Crusaders cruise to victory
Two tries in two minutes brought up the bonus point for the red machine.
Hall dived over from the side of a ruck after Dominic Gardiner went close.
Mo’unga made the next try with a deft chip-kick. Matera chased and toed the ball forward to set up the quick ball for Hall.
The halfback played Ennor, who combines with Bridge to send Williams away in the corner. Magic Mo’unga added both conversions, one a drop-kick.
The Rebels found a way over with nine minutes remaining after Hodge latched on to Gordon’s grubber.
The fullback added the extras to bring up double figures.
Foote’s side struck again when Philip crashed over after a sustained attack from an attacking lineout.
But Fainga’anuku dotted down at the death. He carried three defenders over the chalk to bring up the forty-burger.
Fergus Burke added the extras.
Final Score: Crusaders 42 (7) Rebels 17 (3)
Tries – Grace, Blackadder (2), Hall, Williams, Fainga’anuku
Con – Mo’unga (5), Burke
Tries – Hodge, Philip
Pen – Hodge
Con – Hodge (2)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Glenn Newman
Crusaders: 15 George Bridge, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitch Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Zach Gallagher, 3 Olie Jager, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Dominic Gardiner, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Chay Fihaki.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 George Worth, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Stacey Ili, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Michael Wells (captain), 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Josh Hill, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 Efi Ma’afu, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Rhys Van Nek, 19 Josh Canham, 20 Tamati Ioane, 21 Sam Wallis, 22 Joe Powell, 23 Carter Gordon.