Crusaders score dramatic winner

Fri, 31 May 2013 09:33
Large crusaders v waratahs Large crusaders v waratahs2 Large crusaders v waratahs3

The Crusaders cemented their place in Super Rugby's top six with a dramatic 23-22 win over the Waratahs in Christchurch on Friday.

The Crusaders cemented their place in Super Rugby's top six with a dramatic 23-22 win over the Waratahs in Christchurch on Friday.

It was a game decided by the boot - Dan Carter slotting a penalty from just on 50 metres seven minutes from time to give the Crusaders the lead for the first time in the game.

And Berrick Barnes missed a much easier attempt, from 30 metres out, after the full-time hooter.

As the Crusaders' stand-in captain George Whitelock said after the game: "Yeah, that was a get-out-of-jail alright. We don't want too many more of those."

He readily admitted that the Crusaders "lacked urgency" in a game that saw the Waratahs take a commanding lead twice - 15-3 in the first half and then 22-10 at the break.

There was the longest and tensest scrum of Super Rugby 2013. Daniel Carter had just kicked a long penalty goal to give the Crusaders a 23-22 lead after they had trailed 22-10 a half an hour before. There were just ove five minutes to play.

Berrick Barnes kicked off. Jimmy Tupou of the Crusaders was helped up to catch the ball but knocked it on. And so there was a scrum to the Waratahs about 30 metres from the Crusaders' line and  about six metres in from touch. This was the longest scrum as it was clear that the Waratahs wanted a penalty. The scrum was awarded at 74 minutes and 24 seconds. The Waratahs got the penalty they wanted at 79 minutes 27 seconds - five minutes for a scrum.

In those five minutes there had been  six resets. When the scrum collapsed for the third time, the referee  penalised the Crusaders whose scrum had struggled all match. The Waratahs were beside themselves with their achievement in winning the penalty - high-fiving, patting heads and slapping backs.

Brendan McKibbin had been subbed and so Barnes had the kick. There was no wind in Christchurch Of course, it was a kick well within the compass of the player with great Big Match Temperament. He got the tee, placed the ball, did his routine and the ball flew well to the right of the upright into a black sky. The final whistle went, and the Crusaders had won. The Waratahs were dejected, for their future in Super Rugby 2013 was just playing out their matches without a hope of play-offs.

For most of the first half you would not have given the Crusaders a price. They were outplayed in every aspect of the game. They struggled to get possession from a wobbly scrum and a wonky line-out. They in fact conceded a tighthead at their first scrum and lost their second line-out. But it was more than that. The Waratahs were giving them a hiding at the breakdown and McKibbin was keeping the ball going. In fact they got the ball back so quickly from tackles that McKibbin, fast as he is, had to rush to get there in time. Then his service was quick and nearly always to Bernard Foley. The Waratahs were sharp and organised, which meant that the Crusaders who by comparison were sloppy, got little possession. And their tackling was not all that wonderful either.

Both sides started running but the Waratahs were doing it better and more crisply than the Crusaders were - in a sense out-Crusadering the Crusaders. Matt Todd was penalised at a tackle and McKibbin goaled. 3-0 after 5 minutes.

The Waratahs turned a [penalty into a line-out on their left and went right. After 17 phases, Foley played back inside to Cam Crawford and the strong wing powered between Luke Romano and Nepo Laulala, who tackled each other behind his back, and Crawford, knocked down, scored. 10-0 after 22 minutes.

The Crusaders got on the scoreboard when Rob Horne was offside and Carter, kicking this week instead of Tom Taylor, perhaps to get his sights right for the Tests, goaled. 10-3 after 23 minutes.

The Crusaders used a penalty to form a line-out and bashed till they were penalised for obstruction. The Waratahs kicked out for a line-out. John Ulugia, playing his 50th match for the Waratahs, threw deep, over the 15-metre line- to Sekope Kepu who gave to Foley. Foley tuned the ball inside to Michael Hooper. This was all near the Waratahs' 10-metre line. Hooper raced past Romano and set off downfield, swerving past Israel Dagg, who did not touch him. Hooper gave a one-handed pass to Peter Betham on his left with a way to go and several Crusaders in defence. Somehow he staggered and stumbled past four of them, including Dagg and Tom Marshall, to score in the corner.

It was a magnificent try.  15-3 after 33 minutes.

The Crusaders got more into the game but in the face of aggressive defence their handling let them down till they got a spurt on and Todd, Kieran Read, Romano and Dagg got close to the Waratahs' line. They were awarded a penalty five metres from the line and under the posts. Carter tapped and darted close to the line. The ball came back to Corey Flynn and the sturdy hooker swirled away from Adam Ashley-Cooper to score near to the posts. 15-10, and it was half-time.

Read did not come back for the second half, his place taken by Luke Whitelock and it was a Luke Whitelock error that led to the next score. Just inside the Crusaders' half Luke Whitelock passed to his left and Dave Dennis intercepted the pass and galloped to just inside the Crusaders' 22 with tacklers closing in. Dennis passed to Foley on his left and despite Zac Guildford's tackle, Foley scored. 22-10 after 43 minutes. It looked rosy for the Waratahs  but they did not score again while the Crusaders did in unglamorous fashion.

They had a penalty and made a maul in the line-out. The Waratahs were penalised again and this time the line-out was five metres from the Waratahs' line but Ben Funnell threw in skew. The Waratahs got out of immediate danger but then Carter broke, the Waratahs were penalised and the Crusaders had another five-metre line-out. Kane Douglas was penalised for barging in the line-out and the Crusaders had another five-metre throw. This time they got the maul working, running it across the field as backs joined in until they were over the line. The referee asked the TMO if there were a reason not to award the try, and so the try was awarded to Todd. 22-17 with 18 minutes to go.

Andy Ellis was on for Willi Heinz. He offered greater speed of delivery and more variety than Heinz did. From a  scrum Ellis darted down the left and grubbered ahead. Matt Lucas, on for McKibbin, was penalised for obstruction, Carter goaled. 22-20 with 15 minutes to play.

The Waratahs looked to be fading. Their ball from the breakdown was slower and their defence less aggressive. Then Hooper was penalised for being offside. It was a long kick but Carter goaled it - just. 23-22 to the Crusaders with 7 minutes to play.

Then came the long, long scrum, the penalty for the Waratahs and the miss by Barnes to end the match, which was more interesting than exciting, but for the Waratahs' tries and the tension of those last seven minutes.

Man of the Match: Brendan McKibbin had a super match for the Waratahs till, mysteriously, he was subbed. He gave them so much speed and direction, and his goal-kicking brought the points. But really the man who made the biggest difference in the Crusaders' victory was Daniel Carter with his skill, the direction he gave to play, the leadership he showed in making crucial decisions and his match-winning goal-kicking. He is our Man of the Match.

The scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Flynn, Todd
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 3

For the Waratahs:
Crawford, Betham, Foley
Cons: McKibbin 2
Pen: McKibbin


Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17  Joe Moody, 18  Jimmy Tupou, 19  Luke Whitelock, 20  Andy Ellis, 21 Robbie Fruean, 22  Adam Whitelock.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Pat McCutcheon, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Will Skelton, 19 Jed Holloway, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Berrick Barnes , 22 Drew Mitchell.

Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly, Shane McDermott
TMO: Glenn Newman

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