A second-string Crusaders side was made to work for a 49-14 bonus-point victory over the Sunwolves in Brisbane on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The win moved the Crusaders top of the New Zealand conference and overall Vodacom Super Rugby table, with the Sharks still to play against the Stormers later on Saturday.
The final score, however, doesn’t really reflect fairly on the match as the Sunwolves fought bravely, but just could not organise defensively and missed far too many tackles.
The Crusaders made a number of changes for this game and it certainly reflected in their performance as despite enjoying good possession and territory in the first half, they were only able to take a 14-7 lead at the break.
Of course, it did not help that some ill-discipline had them reduced to 13 men for the final 20 minutes, as replacement hooker Hugh Roach was red-carded for throwing an elbow, while Sevu Reece saw yellow for a deliberate knock-down.
However, the Sunwolves struggled to put it together despite their numerical advantage and saw any hopes of taking a point away from the game dissipate when Braydon Ennor went up the other end to score the Crusaders’ sixth try, before debutant Fergus Burke dotted down after the full-time hooter.
Sunwolves – Tries: Ben Hyne, Garth April. Conversions: April (2)
Crusaders – Tries: Tom Christie, Sevu Reece (2), Luke Romano, Sione Havili, Braydon Ennor, Fergus Burke. Conversions: Brett Cameron (3), Burke (2).
Sunwolves – James Dargaville, 14 Siosaia Fifita, 13 Keisuke Moriya (c-c), 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Tautalatasi Tasi, 10 Garth April, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jake Schatz (c-c), 7 Mitch Jacobson, 6 Justin Downey, 5 Michael Stolberg, 4 Ben Hyne, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Efitusi Ma’afu, 1 Nic Mayhew.
Subs: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Jarred Adams, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Brendon O’Connor, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Shogo Nakano, 23 Yoshizumi Takeda.
Crusaders –15 George Bridge, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Faingaanuku, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 Bryn Hall (c), 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Sione Havili, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Oliver Jager, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Ere Enari, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images