Super Rugby champions the Crusaders host South Africa’s Sharks on Saturday in Christchurch and the hosts will be aiming for a fourth straight win over the South Africans.
The Crusaders have won their last three matches against the Sharks – a run that started in the 2014 Semi-final but against all opposition teams they have won their last 12 matches.
- The Crusaders have won 17 of their last 21 games against the Sharks, including each of their three previous meetings in the post-season.
- The Saders have won their last 16 games on the bounce when hosting teams from outside New Zealand; the last time they lost such a fixture was in the opening round of the 2015 campaign against the Rebels.
- No South African team has ever won a finals game in New Zealand, with this being the 13th such fixture in Super Rugby history.
- The hosts (19.8) are the only team in the competition to have missed fewer than 20 tackles per game in Super Rugby 2018.
- Jean-Luc du Preez has made 31 offloads so far this campaign, four more than any other player in the competition.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
Tendai Mtawarira will play in his 150th Super Rugby match: sensational.
1.00: PEEEEP! Curwin Bosch gets us underway in Christchurch.
3.00: We are struggling with the first scrum, which started at 53 seconds.
4.00: A massive statement from the Crusaders pack, dominating their opponents and winning the penalty.
5.00: Thomas du Toit is pinged at the ruck.
7.00: PENALTY! Richie Mo’unga slots the kick. 3-0
9.00: Louis Schreuder kicks his box-kick straight into touch. The Crusaders go quickly…
10.00: TRY! Codie Taylor takes the lineout quickly, Ryan Crotty takes the ball up and is supported by George Bridge, offloading to Bryn Hall, who slides over in the corner. 8-0
11.00: MISS! The touchline kick is wide. 8-0
12.00: TRY! David Havili scores in the same corner as Hall. It came from a lineout steal at halfway. The hosts shift the ball quickly through the hands Jack Goodhue breaks and plays in the fullback for the second try. 13-0
14.00: MISS! Mo’unga misses from the same spot. 13-0
17.00: Sharks win a penalty inside the Saders 22 and Rob du Preez calls for the tee.
18.00: MISS! Du Preez hits the post after getting a double commentators’ curse. Poor from Du Preez.
20.00: The visitors win another penalty and, this time, kick to the corner.
22.00: Oh dear! Philip van der Walt butchers a certain try, knocking on with nobody in front of him. Sharks get another penalty and kick to the corner, again.
24.00: Crusaders rip the ball from the opposition, and clear down the field. Sharks win another penalty and kick into Saders half.
26.00: TRY! Jacobus van Wyk finishes off a superb multi-phase attack after intercepting Kieran Read’s loose pass. The Du Preez brothers were prominent in the build-up to the score. 13-5
27.00: CONVERSION! Du Preez makes no mistake, kicking his 212th Super Rugby point, this season. 13-7
29.00: Dan du Preez wins the penalty at the ruck. Akker van der Merwe is waiting at the Saders 22 after Du Preez’s touch-finder.
30.00: Sam Whitelock wins another Sharks lineout; that’s a couple skew and two against the throw. Terrible by Van der Merwe.
31.00: The visitors lose the battle at the breakdown before Ruan Botha is pinged. Mo’unga clears deep into enemy territory.
32.00: Tyler Paul steals a throw for the Sharks, who clear the danger.
33.00: Lukhanyo Am saves the day after Rob du Preez’s kick is charged down. Five-metre scrum to the hosts. Jacques Vermeulen is off injured.
34.00: Wait, it’s a 22 drop-out.
36.00: The home team have an attacking lineout inside the Sharks 22 after Havili returned Bosch’s poor kick, with interest.
39.00: Taylor and Matt Todd combine as the defending champions rampage into the opposition’s 22. They win a penalty and opt for the points.
41.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga extends the lead to nine.
The halftime score was Crusaders 16 Sharks 7
41.00: PEEEEP! we are back underway for the second stanza.
42.00: TRY! Todd is over near the post after Bridge’s break. Hall snipes around the ruck and offloads to the supporting Todd. 21-7
43.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga adds another two. 23-7
46.00: The referee is playing advantage to the Sharks. The move breaks down, but they have a penalty inside the opposition’s 22.
47.00: Interesting decision to take a shot at goal.
48.00: PENALTY! Du Preez makes no mistake. 23-10
52.00: Braydon Ennor breaks into the Sharks 22, but a stray hand interferes with the attack. However, the hosts get the scrum for a knock-on.
54.00: Mitchell Drummond’s grubber-kick is long. 22 drop-out.
55.00: Scott Barrett impersonates his brothers, slipping a tackle and charging into the opposition’s 22. Scrum to the Saders.
57.00: PENALTY! Mo’unga slots another easy kick in front of the poles. 26-10
59.00: The Sharks have gone 18 phases in this multi-phase move before the Sharks lose the ball and the Crusaders clear. Michael Alaalatoa played the ball on the ground: how did the ref miss that?
62.00: Bridge puts his kick straight into touch – bizarre play by the winger.
65.00: Another poor piece of handling by the visitors gifts the ball back to the eight-times champions.
66.00: STAT ALERT! Sharks have conceded 17 turnovers and have had better of the territory and possession.
67.00: TRY! Just like clockwork, the Crusaders go from their 22, and one phase later, Ennor finishes off a wonderful attack. Read drew three defenders, popped to Ennor, who cut inside and raced away. Game over. 31-10
68.00: CONVERSION! Mo’unga adds the extras. 33-10
72.00: TRY! Whitelock breaks after Todd’s quick-tap. Drummond, in support, takes the ball forward before passing to Peter Samu, who scores. 38-10
73.00: CONVERSION! It’s good by the flyhalf. 40-10
76.00: The sharks attack, but another mistake – not spotted by the ref – almosts halts them in their tracks.
78.00: Sharks still attacking inside the Crusaders 22.
79.00: Ball lost forward, scrum red.
80.00: The hooter sounds, the ball is kicked into the stands: the Crusaders win – again.
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The final score is Crusaders 40 (16) Sharks 10 (7)
Tries – Hall, Havili, Todd, Ennor, Samu
Pen – Mo’unga (3)
Con – Mo’unga (3)
Tries – Van Wyk
Pen – R. du Preez
Con – R. du Preez
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, 23 Braydon 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.