Crusaders fight back to thrash Cheetahs

Date published: March 21 2015

The Crusaders' recent revival continued when they claimed a 57-14 victory over the Cheetahs in Christchurch on Saturday.

Like their previous match against the Lions, a superb second-half effort paved the way to victory for the seven-time champions who outscored their vistors by eight tries to two with Dan Carter leading the way with a haul of 27 points via two tries, seven conversions and a penalty.

The Crusaders dominated for large periods but it wasn't always plain sailing, especially during the first-half, and they trailed 10-14 at half-time.

Despite ample possession during the early stages, the home side suffered an early setback when Kieron Fonotia was yellow carded in the seventh minute for taking out Willie le Roux while the Springbok full-back was gathering a high ball.

The next 10 minutes was a scrappy affair as the hosts failed to capitalise on their dominance. They only registered their first points in the 19th minute when Jordan Taufua scored after bursting through two tackles close to the Cheetahs try-line.

Carter added the extras but the visitors struck back 10 minutes later with a try against the run of play. Francois Venter was the beneficiary of a wayward Matt Todd pass close to the Cheetahs' 10-metre line and he outpaced the cover defence before crossing the whitewash.

That try seemed to invigorate the Cheetahs and three minutes later they took the lead when Johann Sadie rounded off a superb move started close to the halfway line.

Sadie set off on an attacking run before passing to Raymond Rhule who passed back inside to the outside centre who dotted down despite the attentions of two defenders.

Joe Pietersen slotted his second conversion before Carter added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to narrow the gap to four points for the home side.

The Crusaders' dominance continued after the break but, unlike the first half, they showed greater patience and were soon reaping the benefits.

Things went pear-shaped for the Cheetahs in the 50th minute when Le Roux was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Nemani Nadolo close to the visitors' try-line.

The Crusaders opted to take a scrum from the ensuing penalty and when the Cheetahs pack capitulated under severe pressure at the set-piece, referee Andrew Lees had little option but to award a penalty try to the Crusaders.

Things went from bad to worse for the Cheetahs and with 14 men on the field they lost their defensive shape which helped to keep them in the game during the first-half.

Three further tries were scored during Le Roux's spell in the sin-bin with Israel Dagg amd Nadolo also getting their names on to the scoresheet and Carter also crossed over for his first five-pointer.

Dagg's effort in the 53rd minute was the best of the lot and the All Black full-back rounded off under the posts after Ryan Crotty, Todd and Sam Whitelock all handled the ball in the build-up.

The Cheetahs' misery was compounded in the 69th minute when Coenie Osthuizen was also yellow carded for persistent offences at scrum time.

His spell on the sidelines coincided with Taufua and Carter scoring their second tries in the 70th and 79th minutes respectively and in between those five-pointers replacement back David Havili crossed over for his first ever Super Rugby try.

The Cheetahs were dealt a further blow shortly before full-time when their Springbok flanker Oupa Mohoje was forced off the field with what looked like a serious knee injury.

The scorers:

For Crusaders:
Tries:  Carter 2, Taufua 2, penalty try, Dagg, Nadolo, Havili
Con: Carter 7
Pen: Carter
Yellow card: Fonotia (Playing le Roux in the air, seventh minute)

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Venter, Sadie
Cons: Pietersen 2
Yellow card: Le Roux (High tackle on Nadolo, 50th minute), Oosthuizen (illegal scrummaging, 69th minute)

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Kieron Fonotia, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 David Havili.

Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Heinrich Brussow (c), 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Michael van der Spuy, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Rayno Benjamin.

Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)

By David Skippers