A sublime lesson in running rugby saw the Crusaders overcome the Sharks 44-28 in a pulsating Super Rugby clash at Twickenham.
A sublime lesson in running rugby saw the Crusaders defeat the Sharks 44-28 in a highly-entertaining Super Rugby clash at Twickenham on Sunday.
Victory and the amount of points posted by the Kiwis now means they have scored 140 in their last three games. They deserve their bye week.
The franchise from Durban were good value too though for fans who had turned out in support of helping the victims of the recent earthquake in Christchurch, scoring four tries of their own through Willem Alberts, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Alistair Hargreaves and Odwa Ndungane.
But the day belonged to New Zealand as, in front of 35,094 at Twickenham, Sean Maitland (2), Dan Carter, Israel Dagg and a returning Zac Guildford crossed for what were mesmeric five-pointers.
Sunday was the first time a Super Rugby fixture had been held in the Northern Hemisphere and it was a fitting tribute to victims in Christchruch.
All Blacks maestro Carter scored 22 points including his try before limping off and Sonny Bill Williams also showed European fans what they can expect in the World Cup, displaying his full range of offloading and carrying skills. It seems he can do no wrong at the moment.
The Sharks had opened the scoring when powerful back-row forward Alberts scored from close-range, but were soon 34-10 behind after the Crusaders turned on the style.
However, then opposing fly-half Potgieter managed to navigate through some soft tackling just before the break and further scores from wing Ndungane and lock Hargreaves gave the Sharks serious hope of pulling off a stunning comeback in front of their vocal expats.
Unfortunately for the South Africans, the Crusaders put the game to bed with Maitland's second touchdown coming in the 66th minute, although play continued to flow from end to end until the final whistle in what was a glowing advert for the Super Rugby competition.
Man-of-the-match: Although not on the scoresheet, Sonny Bill Williams was the architect for the Crusaders, offloading at times when offloading seemed impossible. With Graham Henry at Twickenham, Ma'a Nonu must be seriously worried about his World Cup shirt.
Tries: Maitland 2, Carter, Dagg, Guildford
Con: Carter 4, Berquist
Pen: Carter 3
Tries: Alberts, Potgieter, Hargreaves, Ndungane
Pen: Potgieter 2
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (capt), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett .
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Chris Jack, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Adam Whitelock.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 John Smit (capt).
Replacements: 16 Eugene van Staden, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 JP Pietersen.
Referee: Steve Walsh
By Adam Kyriacou