Crusaders grind out scrappy win




A spectacle it wasn’t, but the Crusaders managed to do enough to bag the four points, bruising the Hurricanes by 23-13 in Christchurch.

Despite being evenly contested, the game itself never really got going. Finally, as is typical, it was the Crusaders who never really gave up a lead they gained after going down early, taking enough opportunities to take the win.

It was such a disappointing match on a perfect Christchurch evening. If you had looked at the teams beforehand you could well have expected a match of flow and creativity. Both sides had top class loose forwards, the admiration – and envy – of the whole rugby world. Both sides had top class loose forwards. Both sides are famed for their skill, speed and positive approach to the game.

The teams started sloppy and jerky, and you may well have suspected early nerves. When the final siren sounded, the early nerves were still there and the game eventually ended on a knock-on, ironically after the best bit of team running of the match.

There were three tries in the match, all min the first half. The 40 minutes of the second half produced just two penalty goals. In that half the visiting Hurricanes had the better chances to score.

The Hurricanes were making the early errors and so were under the early pressure.

The first four times they were penalised the guilty were their three great loose forwards. The second one was against Jerry Collins for grabbing the halfback before he had the ball and Carter kicked the goal into the night sky.

Then there was some great work by Jason Eaton. Andrew Ellis had a wobbly match at halfback for the Crusaders, leaving Carter to clear up from his toes or above his head. Eaton got in and charged down a Carter clearance. The tall lock then won the ball and charged at the line. This became a five-metre scrum to the Hurricanes. They went left and Ma’a Nonu simply sliced through on the outside between Rua Tipoki and Casey Laulala. Piri Weepu converted. 7-3 to the Hurricanes 7-3.

As they often do, the Crusaders hit back with a try that started as if it were going nowhere. They passed on the short side to the left to Corey Flynn. The sturdy hooker bustled past groping Paul Tito and burst away from John Schwalger and past Corey Jane for a try in the left corner, whence Carter converted. 10-7 to the Crusaders.

They scored again soon afterwards when they gave Caleb Ralph an overlap. The left wing chipped ahead and Alby Mathewson just managed to save by taking the ball into touch for a five-metre line-put to the Crusaders. The Crusaders mauled, Mose Tuiali’i bashed and there was a tackle/ruck at the line. Suddenly Ross Filipo burst straight through for a simple try, which Carter again converted. 17-7.

Those two tries were the winning of the match.

Weepu kicked penalties when first Collins and then Kieran Read were penalised. That made it 17-13 at half-time.

There was a long wait in the second half when Collins was taken off, neck strapped, on a stretcher after a tackle on Tipoki. He was later taken to hospital but the report was that it was all “precautionary”.

Jane had a great run down the right touch-line when he beat a remarkably high-profile trio of Richie McCaw, who must surely never have had as anonymous a game as this, Tuiali’i and Cater.

At this stage Nonu, protesting angry innocence, was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. He and Collins had been spoken to in the first half for dangerous tackling. When his time was up, Nonu did not return, Tana Umaga taking his place.

The Crusaders had a five-metre line-out and bashed for a long time till a forward pass gave the Hurricanes a defensive scrum. When the ball wobbled out of the scrum Ellis got it but still the defence held and the Crusaders had to be satisfied with the first score of the half, a penalty by Cater. 20-13 after 65 minutes.

The Hurricanes had wonderful opportunities, including two five-metre scrums. From the first Rodney So’oialo was close but then they lost the ball at the second one.

With two minutes to go, Masoe was off-side and Carter put the Hurricanes out of losers’ bonus point range.

After the final siren went the Hurricanes broke out with great running by Conrad Smith and So’oialo. At one stage they looked like scoring but eventually lost the ball.

Man of the Match: It’s a hard decision because there was so little sparkle but the man who scrapped better than all the rest and is our Man of the Match was Rodney So’oialo.

The scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Tries: Flynn, Filipo
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 3

For the Hurricanes:
Try: Nonu
Cons: Weepu
Pens: Weepu 2

Yellow card: Ma’a Nonu (Hurricanes, 57, no arms tackle)


Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Rua Tipoki, 11 Caleb Ralph, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuiali’i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Kieran Read, 5 Reuben Thorne, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Campbell Johnstone, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Johnny Leo’o, 20 Kevin Senio, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Scott Hamilton

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Paul Tito/Luke Andrews, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Tone Kopelani, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Luke Andrews/Bernie Upton, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 Jimmy Gopperth, 21 David Smith, 22 Tana Umaga.

Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Steve Walsh (New Zealand), Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel  

365 Digital

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