Super Rugby

Crusaders thump Reds in pre-season trial




The Crusaders staged powerful second half comeback to beat the Queensland Reds 31-3 in a pre-season match at Ballymore Stadium.

Playing in front of 6,721 fans in wet conditions, the Reds took a 3-0 lead into half-time, but made multiple changes in the second half and fell away.

Spending 20 minutes with just 14 players on the field also hurt the Reds who had few opportunities to use the ball in the second half.

Reds head coach Richard Graham said: “It was a really good first hit out for us. I thought the shape of our game in the first half was solid although the conditions were a limiting factor for both sides. Our defensive line was aggressive and we showed the urgency I wanted to see”.

“The young boys will benefit from the experience. They were probably a little overawed but better to expose them to that now than during Super Rugby.”

The first half performances of tacticians Jake McIntyre and Nick Frisby, and interim captain Rob Simmons would have pleased their head coach.

Queensland’s scrum and lineout were the other strengths for Graham to consider ahead of next weekend’s trial against the Brumbies.

The eyes of the Reds faithful zeroed in on the young halves partnership favoured to steer the side into a new era.

Frisby and McIntyre are old hands at National Rugby Championship level but are unproven as a Super Rugby pairing.

McIntyre attacked the game with confidence in the opening minutes, spearing onto a loose Crusaders lineout throw before leading the visitors’ defenders on a weaving run deep into the Reds’ attacking zone.

It was the first of several enterprising sorties in the opening skirmishes. The Reds were emboldened by a dominant scrum that had the Crusaders either backpedalling or desperately conceding penalties.

For all their control of territory and possession, it was a McIntyre penalty that was the only score of the match after 40 minutes.

The Crusaders eventually won back an even share of possession but were turned back time again by relentless pressure on their set piece.

A fierce resolve in defence was another trademark of the Reds class of 2016. Forward leaders Jake Schatz and Liam Gill chased, scrambled and harassed every Crusaders surge.

Uncapped centre Henry Taefu should also be proud of his audition, which included a handful of line-bending runs as he fights for a chance to partner Samu Kerevi on a permanent basis.

Trailing 3-0, the Cantabrians injected Fijian behemoth Nemani Nadolo in the unusual role of inside centre to generate some second half momentum and his physical presence provided an immediate lift.

It was the Reds who cracked first when the hosts conceded a penalty try and suffered the double whammy of losing winger Chris Kuridrani to the sin bin for 10 minutes for a deliberate knock on.

The second half was effectively a new ball game as both outfits made wholesale changes.

Nadolo continued to trouble the Reds’ midfield and they cracked once more when George Bridge dived on a beautifully weighted kick into the in-goal.

Losing a second player, this time Curtis Browning, to the sin bin made the recovery effort that much harder.

It was at least an opportunity for Queensland’s coaching staff to examine how their troops defend under fatigue. A string of penalties against them and some ruthless finishing from the Crusaders emphasised the gap in momentum as the Reds never regained a grip on the contest.

Two more tries, including a second to Bridge put the Reds behind 21-3 and effectively fighting for pride in the final 10 minutes.

Final Score Reds 31 (0) Crusaders 3 (3)


Tries –
Pen – Jake McIntyre
Con –
Drop –

Tries – George Bridge 2, Richie Mo’unga , penalty try
Pen – Richie Mo’unga 3
Con – Ben Volavola
Drop –


1. Ben Daley , 2. Andrew Ready , 3. Sam Talakai , 4. Cadeyrn Neville , 5. Rob Simmons (C) , 6. Lolo Fakaosilea , 7. Liam Gill , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Nick Frisby , 10. Jake McIntyre , 11. Eto Nabuli , 12. Henry Taefu , 13. Samu Kerevi , 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia , 15. Karmichael Hunt

Replacements : Saia Fainga’a , Sef Fa’agase , Taniela Tupou , Ben Matwijow , Lukhan Tui , Curtis Browning , Maclean Jones , Michael Gunn , James Tuttle , Mack Mason , Chris Kuridrani , Duncan Paia’aua , Campbell Magnay , Alex Gibbon , Sam Greene


1. Alex Hodgman , 2. Ged Robinson * , 3. Mike Alaalatoa * , 4. Luke Romano , 5. Scott Barrett , 6. Jimmy Tupou (c) , 7. Tim Boys * , 8. Jordan Taufua , 9. Leon Fukofuka ** , 10. Ben Volavola * , 11. Sione Fifita ** , 12. David Havili , 13. Sean Wainui ** , 14. Jone Macilai , 15. Marty McKenzie *

Replacements : , , Codie Taylor , Ben Funnell , Joe Moody , Oliver Jager ** , Samuel Whitelock , Mitchell Dunshea ** , Reed Prinsep ** , Mitchell Drummond , Richie Mo’unga ** , Kieron Fonotia , Mitchell Hunt ** , Johnny McNicholl , Nemani Nadolo ,

* indicates no Crusaders caps ,
** indicates no Super Rugby caps

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