Home rule for Crusaders
Seven-time champions see off brave Cheetahs
Last Updated: 24/03/12 8:29am
Crusaders kicked off life back in Christchurch with a 28-21 win over the Cheetahs.
The seven-time champions, though, had to work hard for the victory - with the South African side buoyed by their win over the Rebels last time out.
The impressive Johan Goosen weighed in with 16 points - including a contender for the try of the season - while Robert Ebersohn also crossed.
And with scores level with 10 minutes left the Cheetahs will have fancied their chances of another upset.
However Sean Maitland, Robbie Fruean and Israel Dagg scored tries while Tom Taylor added 13 points as the Crusaders celebrated their return 'home' for the first time since the Christchurch earthquakes with a win.
Two Taylor penalties sandwiched an effort from Goosen during a cagey opening half-hour.
The Crusaders, though, scored their opening try at Rugby League Park when Maitland went over in the corner. Zac Guildford and Fruean Made the initial hard yards before Israel Dagg found the winger with the try-scoring pass.
The home side moved 18-3 ahead just two minutes after the break when Fruean powered over - with the Cheetahs defence going AWOL. Taylor converted.
However the Cheetahs response was immediate as they scored a stunning team try. Attacking from their own 22, Ebersohn, Hennie Daniller, Andries Strauss and Willie le Roux were all involved before Goosen applied the finish.
Although Goosen missed the conversion he did slot over a penalty three minutes later.
Taylor responded with a three-pointer of his own before Ebersohn crashed over - with the Cheetahs again rewarded for their patience in attack.
Goosen converted and then with 10 minutes left he added a penalty to tie the scores at 21-21.
That seemed to wake the Crusaders out of their slumber - with first Andy Ellis and then Taylor held up over the line while Fruean was stopped just short.
However the pressure on the Cheetahs defence eventually told as the hosts managed to exploit an overlap for Dagg to score with four minutes left. Taylor added the extras.