Crusaders beat Queensland Reds 28-15 in a hard-fought Super Rugby Pacific clash at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.
The Crusaders continued their dominance over the Queensland Reds with a 10th Super Rugby win in a row and 11th home victory dating back to 1999.
Scott Robertson’s men cement second place on the Super Rugby Pacific table, while Brad Thorn’s charges finish seventh.
The two teams will do battle again in the quarter-final at Orangetheory Stadium.
Queensland’s dismal record versus New Zealand sides in the Land of the Long White Cloud is shocking.
The Australians have now lost their last 19 away Trans-Tasman clashes, which is important going into the playoffs.
Fergus Burke, Will Jordan, Brodie McAlister, and Tom Christie all dotted down for the 10-time Super Rugby champions.
Burke converted all four tries for 13 points as the hosts claimed the bonus-point win on a cold evening in Christchurch.
Jordan again splendid, starred for the men in red. The 24-year-old playmaker could have had a brace, and his assist to Burke at the end was rightly chalked off when he stepped on the touchline.
The fullback beat six defenders for 97 metres on 15 runs. He made a couple of clean breaks to kickstart attacks, while his defence was solid (7 tackles).
Richie Asiata and Harry Wilson scored the tourist’s two tries of the night. Lawson Creighton added a penalty and conversion (5 pts).
The Reds are in a precarious position having lost four of their last five away matches, especially returning to the Garden City next week.
Three converted tries give the Crusaders a commanding 18-point lead over the error-strewn Reds
Burke, Jordan, and McAlister all crossed in the first half as the Crusaders led 21-3.
Both teams conceded 11 turnovers apiece in a strange half of rugby. The Aussies struggled with handling, especially inside the opposition’s half.
Thorn’s team matched the home team in terms of territory and possession, but as is always the case, the Crusaders take their chances and make you pay.
Matt Faessler went off in the fifth minute after getting knocked out trying to tackle Cullen Grace.
From there on out, Queensland’s set-piece faltered. They lost three lineouts and a scrum, which led to the opening try of the match.
Burke opened the scoring in the 11th minute after the Crusaders won a tighthead on the visitor’s 5-metre line.
The Kiwis spread the ball wide to Jordan before switching back to the left.
David Havili, seeing the Reds scramble and out of position, sent a cutout pass to Burke, who cut inside Feao Fotuaika and Jock Campbell to score.
Robertson’s side doubled their advantage moments later through the irrepressible Jordan.
The Saders went through the phases before Braydon Ennor sucked in two defenders and offloaded a deft pass to Jordan.
The fullback waltzed through a big hole to dot down for his 34th Super Rugby try. Easy as you like.
Burke converted both scores. Tate McDermott’s quick tap penalty saw the scrumhalf lose the ball on the try line.
Creighton, however, knocked over a 26th-minute penalty to save the captain’s blushes.
With minutes remaining, a series of penalties inside the Reds’ 22 saw Feao Fotuaika collapse a maul.
Burke went to the flag again and McAlister flopped over the chalk after a powerful driving maul.
Queensland played better in the second stanza, outscoring the Crusaders, but they never looked like threatening a comeback win
The Saders’ discipline continued to flounder as Robertson’s men gave away 11 penalties in total, including a yellow card, which cost seven points.
The turnovers continued to hamper both teams (18-17 in total). Slippery conditions saw many mistakes as the game went on, and the players struggled underfoot.
The beginning of the second stanza saw Jordan held up over the try line by Wilson.
Pablo Matera was off for a tip-tackle on Jordan Petaia after 55 minutes, his card proved costly.
Matera was a lucky boy because it was a dangerous tackle from the South American.
Queensland kicked to the corner and Asiata crashed through from close range. Creighton added the extras to make it 21-10.
Both teams continued to rue missed opportunities, but with 13 minutes remaining, the Kiwis struck the killer blow.
Christie, with an angled run, managed to barge over the chalk, roll out of a tackle and place the ball down despite McReight’s late intervention.
Burke re-opened the 18-point margin with his fourth conversion.
Wilson scored late to chalk off the home side’s bonus point, but by now, it was inconsequential.
Burke thought he had a second try before the hooter, but Jordan stepped on the whitewash.
Final Score: Crusaders 28 (21) Reds 15 (3)
Tries – Burke, Jordan, McAlister, Christie
Con – Burke (3)
Cards – Matera (Yellow, 55′)
Tries – Asiata, Wilson
Pen – Creighton
Con – Creighton
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Stu Curran
TMO: Shane McDermott
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Mitch Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Oli Jager, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Finlay Brewis, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Tom Christie, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Chay Fihaki, 23 George Bridge.
Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Tate McDermott (co-captain), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Ryan Smith, 4 Seru Uru, 3 Feao Fotuaika, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Dane Zander.
Replacements: 16 Richie Asiata, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Connor Vest, 21 Liam Wright (co-captain), 22 Kalani Thomas, 23 Mac Grealy.