VIDEO: Crusaders maul Bulls in their own kraal
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Crusaders once again stamped their authority on the competition and cemented their place at the top of the standings.
In a rather one-sided affair the Crusaders beat the Bulls 45-13 – a seven tries to one mauling.
It propelled the Crusaders seven points clear of the Hurricanes in the New Zealand conference and – with just four regular season matches remaining on their schedule – it was another big stride towards sealing the top seed.
The Crusaders were creative, inventive, with a high tempo and intensity.
In stark contrast the Bulls were ponderous and unimaginative – not to mention the shocking number of errors.
All Black flyhalf Richie Mo’unga was the catalyst for the rout – scoring two of his team’s first-half tries and playing a starring role in a few others.
He also kicked 10 points.
Mo’unga, who sat out last week’s disappointing draw with the Sharks, underlined his importance to the Crusaders.
He also showed why so many pundits regard him as a real threat to Beauden Barrett in the race as the starting No.10 for the All Blacks at the World Cup.
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Scott Robertson’s men executed a well-drilled gameplan to perfection.
They also did the basics well.
The Crusaders scored the first try of the match through Mo’unga, after his opposite number Handrè Pollard was outdone by the bounce of the ball.
The Bulls reduced the deficit a few minutes later when Pollard put over a penalty, but the Crusaders pulled away again with Mo’unga registering his second try after 21 minutes.
Just before the half-hour mark, Pollard found the middle of the poles from another penalty, but the Crusaders increased their advantage when Mitchell Dunshea scored their third try.
The Crusaders took full control of the match four minutes before the half-time break, when Sevu Reece scored their fourth try and he increased his personal tally to two shortly after restart.
The Bulls scored their first try just before the hour mark, through Burger Odendaal.
However, Reece then completed his hat-trick, as the match was well-and-truly ended as contest.
The Crusaders completed the humiliation when Scott Barrett scored their seventh try in the closing stages.
Man of the match: Duane Vermeulen was a bit of a one-man band – working his behind off, making tackles, carrying strongly and winning turnovers. However, the rest of the Bulls players were little more than spectators, with the occasional bursts of energy. Kieran Read showed some sublime skills and an enormous workrate. Jack Goodhue and Ryan Crotty dominated the midfield contest. Sevu Reece enjoyed the acres of space and almost non-existent defence the Bulls offered – his hat-trick making him a serious candidate. Our award goes to Crusaders No.10 Richie Mo’unga, who put down another big marker in the contest for the All Black flyhalf position. He made his Springbok and Bulls counterpart, Handre Pollard, look like a rank amateur.
For the Bulls:
Pens: Pollard 2
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Mo’unga 2, Dunshea, Reece 3, Barrett
Cons: Mo’unga 5
RECAP: Bulls v Crusaders
Did you miss any of the action? Recap all the drama here!
Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehan Herbst, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dylan Sage.
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Egon Seconds
TMO: Willie Vos