Planet Rugby

Crusaders exploit sloppy Reds

11th May 2014 08:47

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An excellent second-half performance saw the Crusaders humble the Reds with a 57-29 victory at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

In a spectacular 20-minute turnaround after the break the Crusaders scored four tries, capitalising on some appalling kicking from Quade Cooper and the Reds for three of their scores.

The second half turnaround made the Crusaders the first New Zealand team to win at Suncorp since 2009, scoring 50 points on Australian soil for the first time.

Struggling with their form coming into the fixture the Reds' prospects looked ominous after Nemani Nadolo's try in the first ten minutes, but they responded well to the early deficit.

Todd Blackadder's team had rebounded from a rocky start to the competition to win their last four matches, and this was a true test of their credentials - one which they comfortably answered in the second half.

The Reds wall initially held firm and it took a special pass around the back from Colin Slade to suck in two defenders, making the space for Luke Whitelock to breakthrough before Nadolo finished things off.

Ill-discipline though was a problem for 'Saders and they paid the price for successive penalties with the sin-binning of Andy Ellis, referee Jaco Peyper setting out his stall early on.

The Reds rejected the opportunity to go for goal on two occasions in the 22 and came away with nothing, Slade knocking over another three points up the other end for a 10-3 lead.

Jamie-Jerry Taulagi hit back for his first Super Rugby try with a good finish in the corner - an inside ball from the lineout sucking the Crusaders defence inside before Cooper and Harris created the space for the 20-year-old to strike.

Thriving off the momentum the Reds struck again. Good work from Ben Daley turned over possession and Dom Shipperley came off his wing, floating deep behind Cooper and running onto a short pass to go over untouched.

A leaky scrum however was a hinderance for the hosts. Greg Holmes struggled against Wyatt Crockett and resultant penalties helped cut the gap to 17-16 by half-time.

The Crusaders then absolutely flew out of the gate. First, Crockett backed himself by tapping a penalty five metres out and driving low for the line for their second try, after some brilliant, patient build-up in attack.

With the Reds persistently kicking ball away but not chasing hard enough to put pressure on the visitors, the next play felt inevitable.

Israel Dagg had time and chipped over the defensive line, Johnny McNicholl gathering and cutting inside before applying the afterburners. From 17-16 to 17-30 in a matter of minutes, the Reds were stunned.

Cooper clearly didn't learn this lesson, because another shocking kick resulted in the bonus point try for the Crusaders.

It was déjà vu as Slade's high kick was tapped down into the hands of Luke Whitelock, with the number eight speeding away to score and bring up 40 points with Slade's conversion.

RIchard Graham must have been tearing his hair out by the time Nadolo had run in his second try.

Once again Cooper kicked aimlessly and the Crusaders executed, McNicholl running into space down the touchline and combining with Slade to release Nadolo for his double. The fly-half was also putting on a kicking exhibition.

Rod Davies ran in a try to give the Reds an inkling of hope, but they still trailed by 25 points at 22-47.

Slade's tenth kick of the night brought up the half century for the Crusaders in a sublime performance from the number ten.

Despite their defence resembling a turnstile the Reds did secure a try bonus point when Rob Simmons dotted down in the 73rd minute, latching onto the bouncing ball following Cooper's cross-field kick.

There was still time for McNicholl to bag his second try, intercepting a loose pass from Cooper and kicking ahead with easily enough pace to finish it off ahead of a despairing chase from the Reds.

It wrapped up the highest-scoring game ever at Suncorp on another miserable night for Queensland, whose season is well and truly over.

The Crusaders on the other hand look like title contenders, romping to their fifth consecutive win in ruthless style.

The scorers:

For Reds:
Tries: Taulagi, Shipperley, Davies, Simmons
Cons: Cooper 3
Pen: Cooper

For Crusaders:
Tries: Nadolo 2, Crockett, McNicholl 2, L Whitelock
Cons: Slade 6
Pens: Slade 5
Yellow Card: Ellis

Reds: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Curtis Browning, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Dave McDuling, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Lucas, 23 Rod Davies.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty (c), 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 George Whitelock, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

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