Super Rugby

Crusaders edge reinvigorated Reds in thriller

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The Crusaders edged the reinvigorated Reds 24-20 in a Trans-Tasman thriller at a blustery Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.

The Crusaders found a way to win despite being outplayed and outscored four tries to three in a thrilling Trans-Tasman Super Rugby clash.

Sevu Reece, after the final hooter sounded, thought he had scored to take away the losing bonus-point, but a TMO ruling chalked off the score for a knock-on.

Tries from Joe Moody, George Bridge and Leicester Faingaanuku helped the Crusaders over the line.

But it was the metronomic boot of stand-off Richie Mo’unga, who did not miss all night, that proved the difference.

Queensland landed four blows to the usually miserly Crusaders’ defence.

They notched four scores through Chris Feauai-Sautia, Harry Wilson, Taniela Tupou, and Henry Speight, at the death, however, they could not get over the line.

A famous win in Christchurch went begging because of poor goal-kicking as the Australians missed four conversions in the four-point defeat.

The Reds miss out on a first win in New Zealand since 2013. The Kiwis, however, continue their unbeaten streak at home, taking their count to 34 matches without defeat in Christchurch.

Another defeat to the Crusaders takes Queensland’s dismal record to 19 from 22 games; and eight in a row against the tournament’s most successful franchise.

Queensland dominate the first half but are unable to take advantage of their superiority

Queensland had the better of the first half, dominating territory and possession, but poor goal-kicking saw Brad Thorn’s side go into the shed level at 10 apiece.

The Reds had the Crusaders under the pump at the end of the opening 40 minutes but could finish the third series of sustained attacks that went 10 phases or more.

Queensland had three sustained 10-phase or more attacks which led to all their first-half points, and they should have had more at the end.

Super Rugby Video Highlights: Crusaders versus Reds at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

Referee Rasta Rasivhenge’s whistle was busy, blowing up Scott Robertson’s men for repeated infringements inside their 22, which led to Tom Sanders’ 41st-minute yellow card.

The Crusaders started fast (as they usually do), opening the scoring in the 11th-minute.

Moody crashed over from close range after picking up the ball at the base of a ruck and bulldozing his way through a defender and over the whitewash.

Queensland rue missed late opportunity after Sanders yellow card

Thorn’s men, however, kept the ‘Saders out, scoring a try of their own when Feauai-Sautia finished off a slick backline move, scoring in the corner after the hosts ran out of defenders.

Mo’unga, back on kicking duties for the first time this season, kicked a penalty at the end of the first quarter to extend the lead to 10-5.

It was a curious decision to kick for poles by captain Scott Barrett, who earlier eschewed a kick to the corner, opting for a scrum, instead.

The Reds struck back in the 26th-minute when Wilson barged over after another 10-phase attack.

Their persistence paid off when the number eight bashed his way through several defenders to level.

Jock Campbell, who had a good game, missed another sitter, costing his team a deserved lead.

Mo’unga, on the other hand, could not miss, kicking three conversions and a penalty.

Queensland successfully defended a two-and-a-half-minute 19-phase attack, as the home team pounded away.

The visitors had chances of their own and might have taken the points, instead of opting for scrums at the end of the half.

The Reds continued their attacks into the Crusaders’ 22, and they should have taken their opportunities, especially after the hosts gave away five penalties in as many minutes, before losing a player to the bin.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto knocked-on, bringing an end to an entertaining half of Super Rugby.

Crusaders increase the pace and tempo after the break as they cruise to victory

The 10-time defending Super Rugby champions scored twice inside nine second-half minutes to increase their lead to nine points after Tupou pulled a try back three minutes after Bridges five-pointer.

Bridge bounced Henry Speight and charged towards the chalk. Hunter Paisami and Campbell attempted to stop the fullback, but could not.

Bridge’s powerful leg-drive saw him power over for the lead; however, it was short-lived as Tupou scored after another sustained Reds attack inside the 22.

A new kicker could not change the woeful goal-kicking, but the score was 17-15 with half-an-hour remaining.

Super Rugby Conference and overall table standings

Queensland spent more than 13 minutes inside the opposition’s 22, but a testament to Robertson’s charges, their defence stood firm – until the end.

A sensational attack, started by the magnificent Jack Goodhue, who broke from his half before offloading to Ere Enari.

The halfback combined with Mitchell Dunshea, who took the hit before sending Faingaanuku away.

Both teams had their chances in the final quarter, but neither could kill off the other.

Speight finished off a sublime, free-flowing attack from inside his teams half, with half a dozen players touching the ball before Bryce Hegarty put the former Brumbies’ winger away.

Another conversion missed meant that Queensland had left eight points on the field, which ultimately proved to be the difference.

Final Score: Crusaders 24 (10) Reds 20 (10)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – Moody, Bridge, Faingaanuku
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (3)
Drop –
Cards – Sanders (Yellow, 41′)

Reds
Tries – Feauai-Sautia, Wilson, Tupou, Speight
Pen –
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 1: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Shane McDermott

Teams

Crusaders

Head Coach: Scott “Razor” Robertson

15 George Bridge, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Dallas McLeod (debut), 11 Leicester Faingaanuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Cullen Grace, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.

Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Manasa Mataele.

Reds

Head Coach: Brad Thorn

15 Jock Campbell, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Isaac Lucas, 9 Scott Malolua, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith.

Replacements: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Filipo Daugunu.

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