The Crusaders beat the Jaguares 19-3 in Christchurch on Saturday to claim their third-successive Vodacom Super Rugby title. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The result was expected. The Crusaders were always going to be favourites in a playoff staged in Christchurch while the Jaguares – travelling all the way from Buenos Aires – were always going to be underdogs.
The Crusaders were always going to win this one and Scott Robertson was always going to celebrate with his traditional breakdance. While the Jaguares put up a good fight – and should be remembered for their gritty performances over the course of the season – the Crusaders were simply the better side in the closing stages of the decider.
The Jaguares disrupted the Crusaders at the set pieces during the first quarter. The wet conditions appeared to suit the Argentinians’ pragmatic approach.
The Crusaders, however, troubled the Jaguares at the collisions and breakdowns. It didn’t take them long to make one of those turnovers count.
Matt Todd ripped the ball away at a maul and set up a counter-attack. The move culminated in a try for Codie Taylor, and after 26 minutes the Crusaders were out to a 7-3 lead.
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The Jaguares made too many errors thereafter. The decision to turn down a shot at goal and push for a try via the lineout maul culminated in yet another turnover. Later, Matias Moroni had the ball jolted from his hands when reaching for the line.
The Crusaders defence made a statement in the closing stages of the half. And when they won a penalty after the half-time hooter, Richie Mo’unga kicked them into a 10-3 lead.
The Jaguares were always going to struggle to live with the Crusaders in the second stanza after a draining journey from Buenos Aires to Christchurch. And as the visitors began to tire, they struggled to maintain their discipline.
Mo’unga kicked two penalties to extend the lead to 13 points. The Crusaders proceeded to tighten their grip on the contest, and the Jaguares continued to make mistakes under pressure.
Mou’unga converted a further penalty – from a difficult angle and distance – to seal the result. The Crusaders finished the final strongly to ensure that the Jaguares did not add any further points to their tally.
The Crusaders should be applauded for the manner in which they have defended their Super Rugby title. The intimidating aura of Christchurch has been further enhanced considering the Cantabrians have extended their unbeaten playoff run at home to 24 matches.
Crusaders – Try: Codie Taylor. Conversion: Richie Mo’unga. Penalties: Mo’unga (4).
Jaguares – Penalty: Joaquin Diaz Bonilla.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, +11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 George Bower, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Will Jordan.
Jaguares – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente (c), 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images