Super Rugby: Leaders flattened by rampant five-try Crusaders
By Ben Hampshire. Last Updated: 05/07/13 11:56am
The Crusaders produced a dominant display as they registered an emphatic 43-15 victory over Super Rugby leaders Chiefs in Christchurch on Friday.
Captain Kieran Read's brace combined with tries from, Israel Dagg, Ryan Crotty and Tyler Bleyendaal helped the hosts make a definitive statement ahead of the play-offs in two weeks' time.
Read's return from international duty was clearly evident as he was at the forefront of a strong Crusaders line, which led to Dan Carter successfully registering three points before the fly-half doubled the advantage inside the opening nine minutes.
Aaron Cruden soon responded with a penalty of his own for the Chiefs but indiscipline in defence continued from the Waikato men which subsequently allowed the in-form All Black Carter to make it 9-3.
The Crusaders held a 12-3 advantage when the Chiefs temporarily thwarted the momentum with Asaeli Tikoirotuma scoring following some good build up play from Cruden.
However, Read responded almost immediately as the number eight picked up from the base to score with approval from the TMO. A successful conversion followed from Carter to give the Crusaders a comfortable 11-point cushion at the interval.
The hosts returned from the interval to step up another gear as they ran in four thrilling tries to keep their slender hopes of topping the New Zealand conference alive.
It took full-back Dagg just one minute to cross as he raced down the right side after swiftly capitalising on Bundee Aki's spillage.
Dagg would then turn provider minutes later as he set up Read on the left touchline as the Crusaders lead continued to build to 31-8 at the AMI Stadium.
Things only got worse for the table toppers when Crotty completed a fine try in the right corner to extend the deficit to 28 points, with the game well and truly in the hands of the Crusaders.
Centre Charlie Ngatai provided a consolation try for the Chiefs but it was the Crusaders who had the final word as Bleyendaal capitalised on a turnover before racing home from long range.
The bonus-point victory leaves the Crusaders just five points adrift of the Chiefs at the Super Rugby summit with one game left to play in the round robin stage.
Super Rugby 2013 Round 19
The Bulls moved back to the top of the Super Rugby standings following a nail-biting 20-19 victory over the Sharks.
The Cheetahs ran in three tries as they beat the Blues 34-19 on Saturday to seal a place in the Super Rugby play-offs.
Highlanders ran in six tries as they recorded a 49-44 victory over the Hurricanes in a thrilling Wellington encounter.