Crusaders power past feeble Force
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Crusaders hardly got out of second gear, but still had too much power for the Western Force.
The seven-time champion Crusaders outscored the visitors from Australia by seven tries to two in a 45-17 victory - which also produced two yellow cards, a heap if scrum penalties and the usual batch of questionable penalties by Australian referee Rohan Hoffmann.
The result also sees the Crusaders maintain their 100 percent record - five wins from five - this season.
The Crusaders led from the outset, heeding coach Scott Robertson's demand that they score early after being forced to come from behind in their previous three matches.
It was a lopsided defeat the Force could have done without amid speculation the Perth franchise faces the axe as SANZAAR look to revamp the competition.
But captain Jono Lance refused to blame some tight refereeing calls that went against his team.
He praised the Force's determination to play the ball, even though they failed to crack the Crusaders defence in the second half.
"You can get caught up trying to defend so you're there or thereabouts [on the scoreboard] at the end," he said.
"But we wanted to come here and throw some punches and I think we did that."
The Crusaders wasted no time scoring their first try, with Digby Ioane touching down in the third minute after Mitchell Drummond's run set him up.
Matt Todd added a second 13 minutes later, driving his way to the base of the post after the Crusaders wore down the committed Force defence.
Force wing Alex Newsome hit back with a 70-metre try after intercepting a stray Todd pass, but it was a temporary reprieve before one-way traffic resumed.
Scott Barrett, shifted from lock to blindside flank for the match, barged over the line taking three defenders with him.
Luke Romano then pounced on the ball as the Force tried to recycle it in their own in-goal area, with referee Rohan Hoffmann ruling it a try.
Wing Chance Peni kept the Force within touching distance when he stretched out to score just before half-time, narrowing the gap to 28-17 at the break.
A rolling maul delivered the home side's fifth try 10 minutes after the restart, with Codie Taylor crossing as the Crusaders' forwards dominated their opposition.
The Force scrum then lifted to deliver 10 minutes of sustained pressure, resulting in Crusaders' prop Tim Perry being sin-binned for repeated infringements.
But the Crusaders held on, snuffing out any hope of an unlikely Force comeback, with tries to David Havili and Ben Funnell completing the rout in the final 10 minutes.
Man of the match: In the backline David Havili and Ryan Crotty, were the most impressive Crusaders, while Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Scott Barrett ad Luke Romano also put their hands up. However, our award goes to the Crusaders' All Black lock Sam Whitelock - the rock in that impressive tight five.
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Ioane, Todd, Barrett, Romano, Taylor, Havili, Funnell
Cons: Hunt 4, McKenzie
For the Western Force:
Tries: Newsome, Peni
Cons: Lane 2
Yellow card: Tim Perry (Crusaders, 59 - repeated infringements, illegal scrummaging), Isi Naisarani (Western Force, 71 - cynical foul, playing ball on the ground)
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Digby Ioane, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks,2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Western Force: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Chance Peni, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance (captain), 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Isi Naisarani, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Matt Hodgson, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Robbie Coleman.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)