The Crusaders produced a first-half masterclass as they clinched an emphatic 38-22 win over the Hurricanes in Christchurch on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Before kick-off, most would have expected this to be a highly competitive encounter. Instead, the Crusaders scored 24 unanswered points in the first half to utterly annihilate the directionless Hurricanes.
It was a brutal 40-minute display from the defending champions, and served as a most emphatic statement that they will once again be a front-running force to be reckoned with this season. Although the second half was a more closely contested affair, the Hurricanes were already dead and buried at half-time.
Yet it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the Canes did manage to score three tries to two in that second stanza, and ultimately deny the Crusaders a bonus point.
The visitors made an error-riddled start to this match as they conceded an array of turnovers – a recipe for disaster against the Crusaders – and the hosts would duly open the scoring when All Blacks lock Scott Barrett powered over the tryline early on.
Crusaders winger Manasa Mataele then worked a wonder try as he somehow managed to avoid the right touchline, before sending a miraculous pass to Richie Mo’unga, who darted away to finish off another five-pointer. From the next kick-off, the Saders went 80m to score through Jordan Taufua. Suddenly, the Crusaders led 17-0.
Just before the break, Mo’unga danced his way over for another try, and that was essentially game, set and match at the halfway point.
#SuperRugby – HALFTIME:
Crusaders 24-0 Hurricanes
The defending champions have been relentless in the opening half and have run in four tries so far.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) February 23, 2019
The first-half stats told a horror story for the Canes. Besides witnessing the Crusaders score four tries to none, the hosts also made 355m to 52, 86 carries to 28, 10 clean breaks to none, while beating 24 defenders to eight and enjoying 72% of possession.
Barrett added his second try to the tally soon after the restart, before the Hurricanes finally got on the scoreboard when Ben Lam both created and then finished off a much-needed try.
From there, the game fizzled to a conclusion, with Wes Goosen and George Bridge trading tries, before Lam and TJ Perenara went over for two more consolation tries for the Canes.
Crusaders – Tries: Scott Barrett (2), Richie Mo’unga (2), Jordan Taufua, George Bridge. Conversions: Mo’unga (3), Mitch Hunt.
Hurricanes – Tries: Ben Lam (2), Wes Goosen, TJ Perenara. Conversion: Jordie Barrett.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Chris Eves.
Subs: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Ben May, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Ngani Laumape.
Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images