Seven tries to two victory for Red & Blacks
The tournament rookies, the Southern Kings, were given a lesson in clinical Super Rugby play when the Crusaders beat them 55-20 in Christchurch on Saturday.
The Kings scored first and the Kings scored last, and in between it was all Crusaders - almost all, enough to produce a hiding for the visitors on their first Super Rugby trip to New Zealand.
The Crusaders were better in every facet of the game. The scrummed better, they line-outed better and they won the loose ball faster and more securely. But that was just the start. It was the way they ran that was miles better. The Kings' passive defence did not help their cause at all as they stood back waiting for the arrival of the Crusaders. The home side needed no second invitation to advance to the line.
The Crusaders had a bonus point after 31 minutes, scoring at a point a minute. That seemed to relax them. That and the arrival of replacements meant that the score was more modest than it otherwise would have been. They were just far better than the Kings.
The Crusaders had a late change. Israel Dagg pulled out as a precautionary measure and Zac Guildford started on the wing with Tom Marshall at fullback. Guildford enjoyed encouraging crowd reaction whenever he touched the ball. Adam Whitelock replaced Guildford on the bench.
Dimitri Catrakilis of the Kings kicked off, Marshall was penalised at a tackle and Catrakilis goaled - 3-0 in two minutes.
The lead lasted a minute. The Kings kicked to the Crusaders and spent the time spinning around in defence as the Crusaders played advancing phases till George Whitelock burst over to score through Ronnie Cooke and Sergeal Petersen who clearly found defence frightening. Dan Carter goaled as he kept on doing till replaced by Tyler Bleyendaal in the second half. 7-0 after 3 minutes.
Carter kicked a penalty when Schalk Ferreira was penalised at a tackle and the advancing phases gave Wyatt Crockett a try near the posts. 17-3 after 13 minutes.
The Kings got little ball and when they did they kicked it. A typical case was a grubber by Shaun Venter which meant more tackling for his team-mates.
Crockett was penalised at a tackle and Catrakilis oaled. 17-6, but it was clear that increments of three were getting the Kings nowhere.
A penalty to the Crusaders gave them a five-metre line-out. They mauled and George Whitelock scored his second try. 24-6 in 24 minutes. Next they threw deep into an attacking linocut. Willi Heinz dummied and burst through Catrakilis and Daniel Adongo to score. 31-6 in 31 minutes. That was the bonus-point try.
Twice the Kings tried mauls from five-metre line-outs and twice the Crusaders repulsed them. But it was third time lucky when they forced Marshall into touch for a third and this time Wimpie van der Walt scored. 31-13 and half-time.
Carter kicked a penalty to start the second half and then the Crusaders did their second successful maul from a five-metre line-out, Matt Todd scoring. 41-13 after 49 minutes and Carter retired to the bench.
The Crusaders threw into a line-out, Heinz gave to Luke Whitelock who ran straight ahead, thumping off Jaco Engels with a hand-off en route to the posts. 48-13 when Bleyendaal converted.
Twenty minutes later George Whitelock completed his hat-trick. 55-13 with four minutes to play.
In that time the Kings scored the try of the match. George Whitehead, now playing flyhalf, started it just outside their 22 and down the left they swept till they played inside to Whitehead who scored under the posts.
Man of the Match: George Whitelock is an obvious choice with his hard work and three tries but the player who made most impact was Kieran Read, our choice of Man of the Match. He won line-outs, he tackled and he ran to set up attacks.
For the Crusaders:
Tries: G Whitelock 3, Crockett, Heinz, Todd, L Whitelock
Cons: Carter 5, Bleyendaal 2
Pens: Carter 2
For the Kings:
Tries: Van der Walt, Whitehead
Cons: Catrakilis, Whitehead
Pens: Catrakilis 2
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock.
Southern Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 11 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Daniel Adongo, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Elric van Vuuren.
Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
Assistant referees: Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Keith Brown (New Zealand)