The Crusaders produced a superb performance to secure a 40-14 bonus-point win over the Brumbies in Canberra, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
What was billed as one of the games of the weekend became one of the most lopsided, as the Crusaders turned on the style to outscore the hosts four tries to one. While the emphatic result has no impact on the Crusaders or the Brumbies’ position on the overall Australasian log, it sees the Crusaders move to within one point of the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.
The Crusaders were a dominant force throughout the game and the Brumbies had no answer to their lethal attack, physicality at the breakdown or the brilliant kick-chase tactics the visitors used.
Having made all the early play, the Crusaders got on the board when Kieran Read peeled off the back of a scrum and sent winger Nemani Nadolo over in midfield. The Brumbies replied with a converted try by Robbie Coleman to draw level, but their continued failure to protect the ball in contact and on the ground cost them dearly.
With the Brumbies on the attack, Matt Todd disrupted the ball at the breakdown and sprinted down the right touchline, drew the cover defender and released wing Jone Macilai.
From that point, the Crusaders were full of running as they pounced on the Brumbies’ unforced errors. With the hosts on the attack once again, the Crusaders contested well at the breakdown, manufacturing a turnover. Centre David Havili broke the line and a series of offloads saw Israel Dagg dot down.
The Crusaders crossed for the bonus-point try under the half-hour mark through hooker Codie Taylor. And to illustrate their all-round ability, the visitors’ defence shut out the Brumbies on the stroke of half-time for a commanding 26-7 lead.
The Brumbies came out firing in the second stanza as they cut down on the errors. They pegged the score back with a try from Joe Tomane, which started from a brilliant kick-chase by prop Ben Alexander. Unfortunately for the hosts, Crusaders weren’t going to let their lead slip.
Yet another try was scored by the Crusaders from a movement that started inside the Brumbies’ 22. The ball squirted loose and Havili hacked it forward, then brilliantly scooped it up one-handed to set up Taylor’s second try. Richie Mo'unga added his fourth conversion and was replaced by Marty McKenzie, who ended off his side's scoring with a self-converted effort under the sticks.
There was still time for the Brumbies to score a late consolation try, but stonewall defence at the death by the Crusaders prevented them from getting another.
Brumbies – Tries: Robbie Coleman, Joe Tomane. Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (2).
Crusaders – Tries: Nemani Nadolo, Jone Macilai, Israel Dagg, Codie Taylor (2), Marty McKenzie. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (4), McKenzie.
Brumbies – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Robbie Coleman, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Leali'ifano, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Sean Wainui, 23 Marty McKenzie.
Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty Images