Crusaders too classy for the Stormers


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Super 14 defending champs the Crusaders notched up a valuable 36-11 win over a determined Stormers side at Jade Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.

All Black winger Rico Gear picked up a brace of tries and secured the all important bonus point for his team through a brilliant try on full-time.

The Crusaders were much the better side in a match of many errors and deserved their win, though they left getting the bonus point late – till after the siren in fact. The Stormers started well in each half and had a good passage of play near the end but did not look as if they were ever going to win not even when they got back to 17-11 early in the second half.

Much of the interest in the match centred on the six reconditioned All Blacks playing – Aaron Mauger, Richie McCaw, Leon MacDonald, Reuben Throne, Chris Jack and Daniel Carter.

Early impressions of the RABs said the Mauger started iffishly, MacDonald and Jack quietly, Thorne anonymously, McCaw erratically and Carter brilliantly. He has d not played since November but obviously rugby to him is like cycling to a cyclist or surfing to a surfer. Getting going was a matter of moments.

He had two brilliant moments in the first half to spark a drab match into life.

The Stormers started with lots of possession, little control and less direction. The Crusaders, too, bumbled more than they would have liked to. They lost four of eight line-out throws and were penalised twice at the scrums, which were a mess – 9 resets, 2 penalties and a free kick in 9 Stormer scrums. That was not great fun at all. It was much, much better in the second half with Wyatt Crockett replaced and only one reset in 11 scrums.

Carter’s first penalty hit the upright and stayed out but he goaled the second. Peter Grant goaled his first and the score was 3-all after 20 minutes.

Schalk Brits threw in skew to a line-out, which gave the Crusaders a scrum on their right. Going left Carter hoisted a diagonal kick to his left, to Scott Hamilton who had been lurking on the touch-line. Hamilton caught it, brushed aside Gio Aplon’s mosquito tackle and then played inside to Casey Laulala who scored a try of exquisite simplicity.

Nothing much was happening. Dylan des Fountain knocked on an unsympathetic pass from Brits and from the resulting scrum Cater, going left, chipped. Laulala got the ball ahead of Aplon and passed to his left to Rico Gear who had come infield off the right wing and he had a long but unopposed run for the try, which Carter again converted.

There was nearly a third from a Carter diagonal to Hamilton but this time the left wing knocked on a low ball.

The Stormers started the second half was if they were a new side, playing with direction, support and skill. They won the kick-off and attacked down the left where Schalk Burger drew three tacklers and in their tackle popped a brilliant pass to De Wet Barry who score din the corner.

They came back with urgency and direction, going through phases till Watson knocked on. Still they carried on attacking and Grant goaled a penalty. 17-11 after 46 minutes.

But the Stormers then seemed to have blown out and the Crusaders set up camp in their territory as a fog came drifting in.

Carter kicked three penalties and it was 26-11 with 18 minutes to play.

With ten minutes to play Mauger tapped a penalty near the half-way line and the Crusaders were running. Jack did so well to catch a high pass, bring it down, straighten up and give McCaw a pass. The flank played inside to MacDonald who scored. 31-10.

After this the Stormers pressed with Huia Edmonds prominent and were actually over the line in the left corner but eventually Jean de Villiers was penalised for being ahead of the flykick and penalised. From there the Crusaders nudged their way up the field. There were turn-overs till they got one and, siren gone, played the ball to the right where Gear swept easily inside Naas Olivier and scored, the bonus-point try. Stephen Brett missed the conversion and the final whistle went.

Man of the Match: Daniel Carter – not for the last time this year.

The scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Tries: Laulala, Gear 2, MacDonald
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 4

For the Stormers:
Tries: Barry
Pens: Grant 2


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

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Dylan Des Fountain, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Justin Melck, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Francois van der Merwe, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Gerrie Britz, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 JP Joubert, 22 Naas Olivier

Referee: Brett Bowden (Australia)
Touch judges: George Ayoub (Australia), Pollock (New Zealand)
Television match official: Josh Noonan (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Lusanda Menze (South Africa)


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