Crusaders beat Queensland 57-29 in Super Rugby
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The Crusaders scored four tries among 31 points in the first 19 minutes of the second half to overwhelm Queensland 57-29 in Super Rugby on Sunday, stretching their winning streak to five games.
The seven-time champions went to halftime trailing 17-16 but took control immediately after the break with tries by prop Wyatt Crockett, backrower Luke Whitelock and wingers Jimmy McNicholl and Nemani Nadolo, who both scored doubles.
That burst, during which they secured a four-try bonus point, carried them to a 47-17 lead and put the result of the match beyond doubt. The Crusaders moved to fourth place on the overall table and to second in the New Zealand conference behind the Chiefs.
Flyhalf Colin Slade pressed his claims for an All Blacks recall by kicking 11 goals from 11 attempts — six conversions and 5 penalties — for 27 points. Slade was also instrumental in several of the Crusaders’ tries, taking on the Reds’ defensive line and slipping passes to players in space.
The Reds were strongly competitive during a first half in which the lead changed hands twice. But they made a series of glaring defensive errors at the start of the second half and the Crusaders, whose hallmark is a refined sense of opportunism, fully capitalized.
They outscored the Reds 41-12 in the second spell, posting the highest-ever score by a visiting team at Suncorp Stadium and becoming the first New Zealand team to win there since the Hurricanes in 2009. The Reds, champions in 2011, remained at the bottom of the Australian conference, in 13th place overall and with their second-worst defensive record in the tournament.
Sunday’s loss marked the first time in 21 matches they have lost at home after leading at halftime.
“We just did some silly things which allowed them to get the bounce of the ball,” Reds captain James Horwill said. “They’re a good side and that’s what they do, they’re good at capitalizing on your mistakes and they did that.”
Prop Wyatt Crocket started the Crusaders’ second-half scoring spree with a try after only two minutes, catching the Queensland defense napping from a tapped penalty five meters from the line. McNicholl scored his first try from a lazy kick and chase by the Reds and Luke Whitelook ran back a wayward clearing kick from Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper to score, lifting the Crusaders’ tally to 23 points in 16 minutes since the restart.
Nadolo, who was educated in Queensland and whose father was a distinguished player for the state side, had his second try in the 59th minute, handed a pass in space by Slade. McNicholl added his second and the Crusaders’ final try in the 77th minute.
Queensland scored tries through wingers Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, Dom Shipperly, replacement Rod Davis and lock Rob Simmons.
Crusaders 57 (Nemani Nadolo 2, Johnny McNicholl 2, Wyatt Crockett, Luke Whitelock tries; Colin Slade 6 conversions, 5 penalties). Queensland 29 (Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, Dom Shipperley, Rod Davies, Rob Simmons tries; Quade Cooper 3 conversions, penalty). HT: 16-17.