The Crusaders secured their place atop the Vodacom Super Rugby standings with a brutal 66-0 demolition of the hapless Rebels in Christchurch on Saturday. JOHN GOLIATH reports.
The Crusaders still needed two points to make sure they will have the ability to enjoy home advantage throughout the playoffs. Recently, a scrappy win over the Blues was sandwiched in between a 19-19 tie with the Stormers in Cape Town, before the Chiefs downed them in Fiji last weekend.
But the Crusaders bounced back in front of a sparse home crowd with a 10-try win over the Rebels which featured ruthless efficiency on attack and defence.
Wings Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor scored hat-tricks for the home side, while mercurial flyhalf Richie Mo’unga created a couple of tries with his magic touches, and kicked seven conversions on the night.
Mo’unga showed his full array of skills on a rather cold night. His passing was crisp and his running game was too hot to handle for the Australian side. But the highlight of his night’s work was a magnificent 25-metre cross-kick for Ennor’s second try.
The Rebels just didn’t have an answer to the Crusaders’ line speed on defence when they did have a chance to attack in the home side’s 22. They were forced into mistakes, while they also couldn’t handle New Zealand side’s speed with which they attacked.
The defeat is massive blow for the Rebels’ playoff hopes. They needed a win against the Crusaders, and now have to hope that a few other results go their way over the next couple of weeks.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 8, 2019
Crusaders – Tries: Sevu Reece (3), David Havili, Braydon Ennor (3), Bryn Hall, Ryan Crotty. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (7), Crotty.
Crusaders – 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 George Bower, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 Ngane Punivai.
Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Tom English, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Subs: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Matt Gi
Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images