Super Rugby

Crusaders put Sharks to the sword




The Crusaders cruised to a 40-10 victory over the Sharks at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, booking their – annual – semi-final spot.

It is the 18th victory in the last 22 matches against the Durban side and the 17th win on the bounce against foreign opposition for the Crusaders.

The Canterbury side ran in five tries in an easy win, swatting aside the South Africans with ease despite the Sharks having the better of territory and possession.

The defending champions took an early 13-point lead after two mistakes by the visitors saw Bryn Hall and David Havili cross the chalk.

The Sharks clawed their way back into the game, scoring through Jacobus van Wyk.

However, as is typical of the Crusaders, they hit you either side of the break.

Richie Mo’unga kicked a penalty after the halftime siren, and Matt Todd crashed over two minutes after the restart to make it 23-7.

Mo’unga and Robert du Preez traded penalties as the Sharks fought back, however, their poor handling undid all their good work.

Just like clockwork, after another spell of sustained pressure inside their 22, the hosts hit back, going coast-to-coast in one phase.

Braydon Ennor took Kieran Read’s pass, cut inside the defenders, and raced away to finish the game as a contest with 11 minutes remaining.

Peter Samu scored soon after, to put the icing on the cake.

History against tourists.

Robert du Preez Snr’s men had history – and form – against them.

No South African team had ever won a playoff game in New Zealand in 13 attempts – make that 14.

The Sharks were lucky to even reach the knock-out rounds, only qualifying because of the farcical Conference system.

They had a record of won seven, drawn one, lost nine, this season.

The franchise had never beaten a Kiwi side in an away playoff fixture, and few gave them any chance.

They were 22-point underdogs with many bookies, a differential that looks as generous as the Sharks defence.

They were 13-points down in as many minutes because they could not make one-on-one tackles or win their own lineout throws.

Mo’unga kicked an early penalty, a sign of – feigned – respect for the opposition and the importance of the match.

Akker van der Merwe, who’d been superb all season, had two stolen and two not straight in the opening quarter.

Hall and Havili finished off textbook attacks which included running straight, drawing your man and offloading to the supporting player. Simple.

Curwin Bosch again proved a liability in defence and should really not be playing at this level because he is out of his depth.

Had Mo’unga kicked the two conversions, the deficit would have been greater.

The Sharks handling and error-rate was as poor as Bosch’s defending.

They fought back, but another piece of amateur play from Philip van der Walt with the try line at his mercy, summed up the lack of quality running through the men in white.

The visitors did manage to grab a five-pointer when Jacobus van Wyk finished off a superb multi-phase attack after Kieran Read’s loose pass.

It was all the Sharks could muster as they bumbled and butchered their way through the next 55 minutes.

Mo’unga kicked another penalty on the stroke of halftime to extend his side’s ominous lead.

And true to form, the Crusaders did what they always do: strike before the break and straight afterwards.

Two minutes after the restart, Todd crashed over the line after a sniping break by George Bridge, set-up the attack.

Game over.

The visitors were never overturning a 23-7 deficit, despite Rob Du Preez’s 48th-minute penalty.

A curious statistic of 17 conceded turnovers by the away team, coupled with their profligacy in the red zone and handling errors at a rate of knots, they did not score another point.

Instead, the eight-times champions shifted a gear (from first to second) and put their foot on their opponent’s throats.

Mo’unga slotted his third penalty goal of the night to regain his side’s 16-point advantage.

Scott Robertson’s men have been brutal in the final quarter this season, and they were at it again.

They went from their 22, and one phase later, Ennor finished off a wonderful attack.

Read drew three defenders, popped to Ennor in support.

He cut inside the Sharks cross-cover and raced away.

Five minutes later, Sam Whitelock broke from his 22 after Todd’s quick-tap and raced to halfway.

Before he was caught, he offloaded to Mitchell Drummond in support.

The halfback shifted the ball to Samu, who supplied the coup de grâce.

The Crusaders will meet the Hurricanes in the all-New Zealand clash in Christchurch.

Crusaders versus Sharks video highlights.

Final score: Crusaders 40 (16) Sharks 10 (7)


Tries – Hall, Havili, Todd, Ennor, Samu
Pen – Mo’unga (3)
Con – Mo’unga (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Van Wyk
Pen – R. du Preez
Con – R. du Preez
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Shane McDermott


Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tim Perry.

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23Braydon Ennor.

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Jacobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi.

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