Super rugby champions the Crusaders extended their winning streak over Queensland’s Reds to seven straight matches with a 12-22 victory.
The Crusaders have now gone eighteen matches without a loss as they were last beaten in March 2018 by the Highlanders.
The result provisionally moves the Crusaders into first place in the standings and is also the first time that the Christchurch have gone three matches unbeaten at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The Crusaders outscored the Reds by four tries to two in the match and led the scoreboard from start to finish.
Former Reds captain Scott Higginbotham scored a late try for the Queensland side which cost the Crusaders a bonus point for outscoring their opponent by three tries.
Crusaders Super rugby head coach Scott Robertson won’t be terribly happy with his team’s performance which only showed glimpses of their potential.
In the opening 10 minutes of the match the Crusaders looked every bit of being back to back champions but then became lethargic by their standards despite the humid conditions and physical nature of the clash.
The Crusaders have won all of their matches this season (3 from 3) but have failed to earn a bonus point and let one slip away in the final five minutes.
As the match started Braydon Ennor scored the opening try and then gave the final pass to fullback Will Jordan for the Crusaders second try in the eighth minute.
Richie Mo’unga had an off day with his boot and after missing the first two opportunities for conversion points could only convert one try throughout the match.
The Crusaders are known for their surges before and after the break but this time it was the Reds who scored just before half time when Samu Kerevi broke through to score for the hosts.
Bryce Hegarty added the conversion which brought the Reds to within 3 points at 7-10 for half time.
After the break the Crusaders were next to score when Whetukamokamo Douglas powered over from a line out maul in the 48th minute. Mo’unga landed the conversion.
The Crusaders scored again in the 57th minute when Jordan Taufua also scored from a line out maul. Again Mo’unga missed the conversion.
With almost 10 minutes to play the Reds appeared to have put themselves back in contention when Liam Wright broke through and scored under the posts. The try was however referred to the TMO and JP Smith was ruled to have obstructed a tackler so instead of a try to the Reds the Crusaders were awarded a try.
The Crusaders were then reduced to 14 players as Mo’unga left the field for a HIA but as the Christchurch side had used all of their bench there were no replacements available.
With an extra man the Reds won a line-out and former Wallaby Scott Higginbotham sniped around the side of the ruck and scored in the corner which was the final score of the match.
Next week the Crusaders return home to Christchurch where they host the struggling Chiefs while the Reds play the Waratahs at the SCG in Sydney.
Final Score Reds 12(7) Crusaders 22 (10)
Tries – S. Kerevi, S.Higginbotham
Con – B.Hegarty
Cards – L.Salakaia-Loto (53rd min yellow)
Tries – B.Ennor, W.Jordan, W.Douglas, J.Taufua
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1:AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2:Damon Murphy
TMO :George Ayoub
15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi (c), 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Angus Scott-Young, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika
Replacements : 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Caleb Timu, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Isaac Lucas
15 Will Jordan, 14 Braydon Ennor, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements : 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 David Havili