Planet Rugby

Reds let it slip away late on

10th May 2008 12:24

Share:

Brad Thorn makes a bust against the Reds

Holding on: The Reds couldn't quite hold on for victory

The Crusaders recorded yet another bonus-point victory in this season's Super 14, recording a 27-21 victory over the Reds, although the Reds will feel they blew a golden opportunity.

Leading 21-8 with just sixteen minutes to go the Reds seemed to be in control against a Crusaders side who were failing to fire. That was until Digby Ioane was sent to the sin-bin, although he should consider himself lucky it was not a red card, and the Crusaders finally made their pressure tell.

The game started and finished in the same manner, with the Crusaders throwing everything at their valiant hosts. Yet in between all that we were witness to a truly remarkable display from the hosts, languishing at the wrong end of the table and with nothing but pride to play for.

There will be those who attribute the performance to the presence of new Australian coach, and current Crusaders coach, Robbie Deans. There were more than a handful of Australian hopefuls in the Reds side and they certainly went about pressing their respective claims in a fine manner.

Having seen Kade Poki finally break the deadlock after eight minutes the Reds came to life. They had barely touched the ball before Poki scored but when they eventually got their hands on the ball it was used to good effect.

Quade Cooper and Berrick Barnes, who are flourishing as a partnership, combined well with fellow midfield man Morgan Turinui. Several crisp passes later and captain James Horwill was surging for the line, the cover defence came to him but the big second row showed great power to muscle his way over and Clinton Schifcofske popped over the extras.

Suddenly the Reds found some continuity to their game, something that has been missing for the bulk of the season, and they had the Crusaders chasing shadows. It didn't take long for the second try to come, again Turinui was the architect with a clean break through a poor defensive line. His pass was taken on the bounce by the busy Peter Hynes who danced passed three would-be-tacklers and scored under the posts.

It was Robbie Deans who opted to rest several big name players for this game and all of a sudden his decision looked to be backfiring. Kahn Fotuali'i was struggling at scrum-half, often slowing the game down with his inability to provide a quick service to Stephen Brett. The scrum was under pressure too and having looked nigh on invincible for most of the season the Crusaders were starting to creak.

Brett looked to steady the ship with a penalty, which he successfully converted, but still the Reds came in constant waves of organised attack. Their ability to offload in the tackle found the Crusaders wanting on several occasions, and but for some superb work from Richie McCaw the gap would have been far greater.

As it was the Reds extended their lead shortly after half-time, this time Cooper the man to do the damage. The platform was laid by several powerful charges for the line, led by the impressive David Croft, before Cooper brushed off Leon MacDonald to score a vital try. With the conversion added the Reds suddenly started to believe.

But from then on in the tide turned, the likes of Andrew Ellis, Corey Flynn, Ali Williams and Dan Carter - making his first appearance since Round Seven - were introduced. The Reds suddenly found themselves making endless tackles as the Crusaders turned up the heat.

One such tackle, from Ioane, resulted in a yellow card. In that he turned Casey Laulala upside down before driving him, head-first, into the ground he can consider himself lucky that it was only yellow. It was anything but lucky for the Reds though as a minute later Kieran Read was driven over and the Crusaders sniffed an unlikely victory.

Still the hosts tackled anything that came towards them and with just five minutes to go it looked as if they would hold on for a famous victory. Sadly for them it was not to be. The pressure was too much as first Williams crashed over and then moments later Carter got in on the act to break the hearts of Reds fans and players alike.

Man of the Match: For the Crusaders Casey Laulala and Stephen Brett were impressive, as was Richie McCaw. The All Black trio of Williams, Ellis and Carter made a huge difference as well. But in David Croft the Reds have a special player, and it is a shame that they are losing him to retirement. His work-rate is second to none, he tackles relentlessly, he carries with power and is never far from the ball. A standout performance that doesn't warrant to end on the losing side.

Moment of the Match: They were hanging on in there with fifteen men but two yellow cards late on cost the Reds any hope of victory.

Villian of the Match: No questions asked here as Digby Ioane scoops this award for a nasty spear tackle on Casey Laulala.

The Scorers:

For Reds:

Tries: Horwill, Hynes, Cooper

Cons: Schifcofske 3

For Crusaders:

Tries: Poki, Read, Williams, Carter

Cons: Carter 2

Pen: Brett

Yellow Cards: Digby Ioane - Reds (65th minute - spear tackle), Ben Lucas - Reds (72nd minute - professional foul)

The Teams:

Reds: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clinton Schifcofske, 13 Morgan Turinui, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Peter Hynes, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 David Croft, 6 Poutasi Luafutu, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Van Humphries, 3 Dayna Edwards, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Coutts.

Replacements: 16 Sean Hardman, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Digby Ioane, 21 Brando Va'aulu, 22 Charlie Fetoai.

Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Kieran Read, 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ali Williams, 19 George Whitelock, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Daniel Carter, 22 Caleb Ralph.

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

Touch judges: Petri Bosch (South Africa), Shaun Moore (Australia)

Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Assessor: Andrew Cole (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs Wasps15:00
London Irish vs Bath15:00
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs Northampton13:00
London Welsh vs Leicester Tigers15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South Africa15:00
Scotland vs Tonga14:30
Ireland vs Australia16:30
Wales vs New Zealand17:30
England vs Samoa19:00
France vs Argentina21:00
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs Leinster14:30
Edinburgh vs Cardiff Blues16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720