The Crusaders scored six tries in their 41-19 bonus-point win against the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
It is the Saders' 13th consecutive win this season and the first time they have won seven matches in a row on the road. For the Rebels, it is a 10th loss in 12 games, and they remain rooted to the bottom of the Australasian group.
The Rebels were competitive for the first quarter of this match, and for most of the second half, but a yellow card in the first half allowed the visitors to build up a healthy lead that they never looked like relinquishing.
The Crusaders opened the scoring with a penalty by Richie Mo'unga, but had to wait until the 17th minute for their first try. Sam Whitelock threw a dummy that saw him evade Jackson Garden-Bachop and then run straight over Nic Stirzaker, before being brought to ground deep inside the Rebels 22. The Crusaders had a five-on-three overlap on the left-hand side and made it count, with Manasa Mataele diving over in the corner.
The Rebels were then reduced to 14 men after Reece Hodge was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-down. The Crusaders kicked for touch and Jed Brown went over from the lineout driving maul.
The visitors struck again from a lineout five minutes later when they went wide to Seta Tamanivalu, who threw a dummy before going over.
While the Rebels hit back with a try from Marika Koroibete, who received a behind-the-back pass from Colby Fainga’a after a lineout, the Crusaders attacked from the restart and Brown grabbed his double to make it 31-7. By half-time, the Rebels had missed 24 tackles.
The hosts made a good start to the second half when Toby Smith scored their second try, but David Havili then rounded off another slick Saders' attack.
The Rebels scored a cracking try at the end of the third quarter. They turned possession over inside their 22 and counter-attacked, with Hodge putting Amanaki Mafi into space. The No 8 took play up to the Saders 22 before sending Koroibete away for his second.
But again the Saders responded with a try of their own, Mitchell Drummond dotting down after a good run by Jordan Taufua.
The remaining 19 minutes of the match were scoreless, which saw the visitors leave Melbourne with the full five points.
Rebels – Tries: Marika Koroibete (2), Toby Smith. Conversions: Ben Volavola, Reece Hodge.
Crusaders – Tries: Manasa Mataele, Jed Brown (2), Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Mitchell Drummond. Conversions: Richie Mo'unga (4). Penalty: Mo'unga.
Rebels – 15 Ben Volavola, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Mitch Inman, 23 Jonah Placid.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge.
Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images