VIDEO: Crusaders run plucky Waratahs ragged
SUPER RUGBY TRANS-TASMAN REPORT: The Crusaders have again piled on the points in a 54-28 win over the Waratahs, but not without a scare against the winless Super Rugby Trans-Tasman strugglers.
It was a record-extending 11th-straight loss for the Waratahs this season, but the manner of victory proved far tougher for New Zealand’s domestic champions than expected.
Up 26-9 at the break, the visitors had their composure tested in Wollongong when Waratahs fullback Jack Maddocks scored off a scrum and then in-form centre Izaia Perese steamrolled two defenders for another quick try.
It was suddenly a 10-point game in a contest the Waratahs started as AUS$26 long-shots to win, after the Crusaders had humbled the Super Rugby AU champion Reds 63-28 last weekend.
But Perese then pushed a pass that found touch and the Crusaders, who had been uncharacteristically sloppy in the first-half, took their chance.
Leicester Fainga’anuku tumbled over for a 40-23 lead and, even with Oli Jager in the sin bin for obstructing Will Harrison, Bryn Hall also crossed.
Will Jordan then roped in a cross-field bomb and skipped through two tackles to ensure another half-century for the Christchurch outfit.
Alex Newsome ensured the Waratahs scored the game’s final points, crossing in the right corner after both David Havili and Nathan Vella were yellow-carded for professional fouls.
Barrett hinted they had been chasing a big win to boost their percentage as they hunt a top-two finish needed to play in the one-off Trans-Tasman final.
“It got a little bit loose at times trying to chase points and tries in this competition,” he told Stan Sport post-game.
“They’ve got plenty of attacking flair and put a wee bit of points on us, which is a little disappointing.”
Earlier No.10 Richie Mo’unga was patient but clinical as he set up captain Scott Barrett to start the second half.
The Waratahs had kicked two penalties to hold the Crusaders to 12-6 after 29 minutes, only to concede three tries before half-time.
Jack Whetton had been sin-binned for repeat foul play around the ruck, the Crusaders making the most of the numerical advantage with a long-range team try that took them down the left wing to be finished by Codie Taylor.
Perese did his Wallabies Test chances no harm with a powerful showing in the midfield, while captain Jake Gordon was again a threat at halfback despite the Crusaders’ dominance.
“It was a great finish, but throughout the year we’ve looked good in patches and had trouble replicating it for 80 minutes,” Gordon said.
“We play an exciting game of rugby but put ourselves in a position where if we get turned over we can be exposed and our transition defence needs to improve.”
Prop Harry Johnson-Holmes copped what appeared to be a stray elbow to the head and was carefully taken from the field late in the second half.
Man of the match: Will Jordan had a number of impressive runs for the Crusaders, while Cullen Grace was powerful with ball in hand. However, the award goes to flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, who was outstanding on attack one again. He also contributed 14 points with the boot.
Tries: Maddocks, Perese, Newsome
Cons: Harrison 2
Pens: Harrison 3
Tries: Drummond, Taylor, Reece, McLeod, Barrett, Fainga’anuku, Hall, Jordan
Cons: Mo’unga 7
Yellow cards: Jack Whetton (Waratahs, 22 – cynical play, deliberately playing the ball on the ground); Oliver Jager (Crusaders, 54 – taking a player out without the ball); David Havili (Crusaders, 77 – deliberate knockdown); Nathan Vella (Crusaders, 80 – cynical play)
Waratahs: 15 Will Harrison, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Will Harris, 7 Jack Dempsey, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Jeremy Williams, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Joe Cotton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Sam Caird, 20 Carlo Tizzano, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Tepai Moeroa, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Scott Barrett (captain), 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Liam Allen, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 David Havili.
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Matt Kellehan, James Quinn
TMO: James Leckie
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