The Crusaders romped to a crushing 13-45 victory after a virtuoso display by Richie Mo’unga and Sevu Reece against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.
Mo’unga starred for the Crusaders, scoring a first-half brace and kicking 10 points as the nine-times defending Super Rugby champions cruised to – what turned out to be – an easy road win.
He also assisted the find of the season, Reece, who scored a hat-trick as the Crusaders put their hosts to the sword, scoring seven tries to one at the famous stadium.
The Crusaders came, they saw, they conquered – as they always do.
The Bulls folded and were left crumpled in a heap.
It doesn’t matter that it was the Bulls who they swatted aside with disdain, it could have been any team.
They barely broke a sweat on the Highveld as they ran the South Africans ragged.
Bulls are stuck in the past
The Eighties music blared from the tannoy as the disheartened home support slinked into the night.
It was a sad sight.
Their team is stuck somewhere between the ’80s and late ’90s early naughties.
The play is stale and outdated. Penalties don’t win Super Rugby games, tries do.
Mitchell Dunshea and Reece (the find of the season) also scored before half time as the Crusaders put their foot on the Bulls’ throats.
Scott Robertson’s men are well drilled. They do the basics and they do them well.
Super Rugby Video Highlights: Bulls versus Crusaders, Round 13, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
They execute their coach’s game-plan, and they are among the best teams at game-management.
Pote Human can do whatever he wants in the lead up to this match, but you can’t plan for the Saders.
The only way to compete is to get the basics right, don’t miss tackles, and be sure to score four to five tries.
You need luck, too.
Burger Odendaal scored the Bulls’ first try in the 58th-minute, which allowed the pyro-technics guy to use his tools.
Reece wasn’t finished, he had other ideas, beating Jaco Visagie for his third, which brought up the forty-burger.
Scott Barrett matched his brothers Beauden and Jordie – who both dotted down for the Hurricanes, today – with a try of his own to compound the misery around the ground.
Loftus had been a fortress in recent times for the Bulls, winning five of their previous six against the Christchurch franchise.
Not this time.
It was helter-skelter from the moment referee Rasta Rasivhenge blew his whistle
Both teams came out trying to play at pace and on the sly, quick throws were the norm in the first quarter hour.
The Bulls tested the tourists with kicks, but they answered with points.
Mo’unga latched onto George Bridge’s kick, the ball bounced over Handré Pollard’s head and into the hands of the flyhalf to open the scoring.
The first-five took a quick drop-kick because he might have been in front of the kicker, and so the ref did not have time to check with the TMO.
The 24-year-old was sensational, controlling play expertly, dictating the tempo – which was break-neck.
He was soon over for the second after Pollard put the Bulls on the board with an 18-minute penalty.
He sold a dummy, sending half the Bulls to the shops for an onion bagel with cream cheese and a latté.
RG Snyman was caught flat-footed, Mo’unga ghosted to the 22, shrugged of Pollard’s cover tackle and beat Divan Rossouw to the whitewash. Stunning.
Odendaal went close, but another handling error killed a rare scoring opportunity inside the Crusaders’ 22.
Pollard doubled his side’s score from the tee, but threes will not win games in Super Rugby, especially not against one of the greatest club teams in the world.
Dunshea scored in the corner, soon afterwards.
The Bulls missed tackles.
The Kiwis sent the ball wide to the New Zealand U20 lock, and he pumped his legs to beat the cover defence of Snyman and Rossouw to the corner.
The game was as good as over at the break
The Blue Bulls had no answers.
Reece was in for his second soon after the interval as Robertson’s men turned the screw.
By the 53rd-minute, the Bulls had had 4 chances inside the Crusaders’ 22, scored zero.
The Kiwis, by contrast, had been inside the opposition’s 22 six times and scored 33, averaging 5.2 points per venture.
All this while conceding 10 penalties to three. Insane.
Odendaal, back in the team, did manage to finally get a five-pointer. Cue fireworks – Lol.
Robertson was ringing the changes as the altitude started to set in.
Human’s men started to get more possession; the Saders were leaking penalties all over the field.
The (muted) celebrations did not last long.
Reece and Mo’unga combined with a pin-point cross-kick by the flyhalf to the winger.
Reece beat Visagie, a hooker, to the ball to touch-down.
It was a mismatch, and so was this game.
Barrett, who had carried for three metres of his team’s 670 metres total, added to the tally.
That statistic is peak Crusaders.
Final Score: Bulls 13 (6) Crusaders 45 (26)
Tries – Odendaal
Pen – Pollard (2)
Con – Pollard
Tries – Mo’unga (2), Dunshea, Reece (3), S. Barrett
Con – Mo’unga (5)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 1: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 2: Egon Seconds
TMO: Willie Vos
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehan Herbst, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.