Dan Carter scored 27 points as the Crusaders secured a 57-14 win over the Cheetahs in Christchurch on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
The damage was done during five second-half minutes, as the Crusaders ran in four tries after Willie le Roux was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on the rampaging Nemani Nadolo.
The visitors held a slender lead at the break, courtesy of tries by Francois Venter and Johann Sadie, after Jordan Taufua opened the scoring for the Crusaders.
However, Le Roux's indiscretion changed the complexion of the match, as the Cheetahs imploded to hand the Crusaders a comfortable victory in the end.
Both teams showed their intent early on, turning down kickable penalties in favour of setting up an attacking platform from the lineout. The Cheetahs were handed an early advantage, after Kieron Fonotia saw yellow for a dangerous tackle on Le Roux, but the visitors were unable to capitalise on their man advantage.
Restored to their full complement, it would be the Crusaders who would score first through Taufua.
With 30 minutes gone, and the Crusaders looking in complete control, Venter latched onto a loose pass to race clear of Ryan Crotty and bring the sides level.
If the Cheetahs' first try had an element of luck about it, the second certainly didn't. Off the back of a scrappy lineout, the Cheetahs' backs showed good hands to free up space for Raymond Rhule on the wing, who found Sadie on the inside for a superb team try. Pietersen added the extras, before a Carter penalty on the hooter reduced the deficit to four points.
Having kept themselves in the game up until that point, the Cheetahs coaches would've been dismayed at how quickly things unravelled in the second half. Following Le Roux's yellow card, the Crusaders were rewarded a penalty try for a dominant scrum.
They followed that up with a superb team try rounded off by Israel Dagg as the Cheetahs pushed the self-destruct button. Carter and Nadolo ran in two further tries, as the hosts turned a four-point deficit into a 24-point lead in a matter of minutes.
The match was effectively over from that point, and the Crusaders made a number of changes. The tries continued, though, after Coenie Oosthuizen was sent to the bin for his involvement in the Cheetahs' splintering scrum.
Taufua, Carter and a try for debutant David Kaetau Havili completed the rout, as the Crusaders rediscovered their swagger. The Cheetahs will need to lift themselves for the trip to Hamilton next weekend, where they'll face the Chiefs.
Crusaders – Tries: Jordan Taufua (2), penalty try, Israel Dagg, Dan Carter (2), Nemani Nadolo, David Kaetau Havili. Conversions: Carter (7). Penalty: Carter.
Cheetahs – Tries: Francois Venter, Johann Sadie. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2).
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Kieron Fonotia 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 David Havili.
Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Rayno Benjamin.
Photo: Fiona Goodall/AFP Photo