‘We’re learning’ says Scott Barrett as Crusaders’ win over Rebels keeps their Super Rugby Pacific play-off hopes alive

David Skippers

The Crusaders returned to the victory trail in Super Rugby Pacific courtesy of an emphatic 39-0 triumph against the Melbourne Rebels in Christchurch on Friday.

It was only their second victory of the season from nine matches and the result will be a relief to head coach Rob Penney and his troops as it takes them off the foot of the table.

Victory coincides with captain’s return

The win coincided with the return to action of the perennial Super Rugby champions’ captain Scott Barrett, who made his comeback after being sidelined for most of the season with a finger injury.

The Crusaders outscored their hapless visitors by six tries to none with Christian Lio-Willie leading the way with a brace while Cullen Grace, Owen Franks, Sevu Reece and Johnny McNicholl also crossed the whitewash.

Veteran tighthead prop and All Blacks Test centurion Franks’ five-pointer was a momentous one as it was the first time he has scored a try at Super Rugby level since 2010.

The Crusaders’ forwards deserve plenty of praise for this result as they came to the fore with a superb display, with their solid scrummaging and lineout work laying the foundation for their victory.

Their overall performance was far from perfect though as their play was still littered with handling errors and despite controlling the territorial and possession stakes, they only held a 10-0 lead at half-time.

Scott Barrett return fires Crusaders to bonus point win over Melbourne Rebels

They took control of proceedings after the interval and Barrett expressed his delight with the side’s performance.

“I’m certainly pleased with the way the boys turned up tonight,” he said after the match. “There were some stern words this week and pretty of hurt over the last few weeks.

“But it was pleasing to see the boys roll up and put a big performance in like that.”

All Blacks centre also back in action

Apart from Barrett’s return, All Blacks centre David Havili was also back in action – after recovering from a calf injury – and he came on as a replacement for Dallas McLeod early in the second half.

With some of their internationals back from injury, the Crusaders will fancy their chances of reaching the play-offs and Barrett wants the team to build on their showing against the Rebels.

“I think the forward pack’s starting to get into their work,” Barrett said. “The scrum was good tonight.

“The boys are growing and we’re learning.”

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