Super Rugby: Crusaders crush Reds, Rebels beat the Blues
The Christchurch-based Crusaders revived their Super Rugby playoff chances and gave an apt home farewell to stalwarts Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter with a 58-17, eight-try win over the Queensland Reds on Friday.
The Crusaders led 15-10 at halftime but ran in six second-half tries, including winger Nemani Nadolo’s double, to take a bonus point and move inside the top-six playoff zone at the start of the 13th round.
Also, the Melbourne Rebels won their club-record sixth match in a season when they beat the Auckland-based Blues 42-22.
All Blacks captain McCaw and star flyhalf Carter likely played their last Super Rugby match for the Crusaders in Christchurch. Carter will end his 13-season association with the Crusaders after the Rugby World Cup when he joins French club Racing Metro. McCaw has played for the Crusaders for 15 seasons and, while he has yet to make his intentions clear, is likely to retire after the world tournament in October.
″(The emotional elements) were likely on the back-burner in terms of what we were trying to focus on this week, and in the competition,” Crusaders captain Kieran Read said. “We needed to come out and get the win.”
Carter is the world’s leading point-scorer in tests but has been forced to concede his regular position at flyhalf for the Crusaders to his All Blacks teammate Colin Slade, starting instead at inside center.
Slade outshone Carter, creating a try for scrumhalf Andy Ellis, and scoring himself to give the Crusaders their narrow first-half lead. He also kicked six conversions and two penalties for 23 points.
McCaw took the field from the bench as a second-half replacement. By the time he joined the game the Crusaders were overwhelmingly in control.
They tore apart the Reds’ defense in the second half, seizing control with tries to Nadolo in the first and 12th minutes of the half. All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock then dashed 60 meters through paper-thin defense to put the Crusaders on course to a landslide win.
Queensland coach Richard Graham said the loss was “disgraceful.”
“There are absolutely no excuses for that performance other than it lacked character and it lacked integrity,” Graham said.
Melbourne scored early, and kept coming up with quick responses whenever it conceded a try to the Blues, who sweated for their multi-phase tries, only to turn around and watch a Rebel haring too easily to the tryline at the other end. The Rebels scored five tries for a bonus point, and were only two points off a playoffs position.
Melbourne co-captain Scott Higginbotham scored his 30th Super Rugby try to set a record for the most tries by a forward.