Crusaders leave Cheetahs behind
Crusaders leave Cheetahs behindSHARE
The Crusaders scored three late tries to pull away from the Cheetahs and secure an ultimately comfortable 52-31 victory in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The visitors end their tour of South Africa with two wins out of two after taking a full house from the Free State Stadium where they ran in six tries, whilst the Cheetahs have to be content with a single bonus point they earned for scoring four tries of their own.
Powerful wing Nemani Nadolo claimed a hat-trick in a game that looked to be in the balance until a late surge from the seven-time champions ended the Cheetahs' challenge.
The Crusaders made the early running, making steady ground as they spent the opening exchanges in opposition territory, and flyhalf Colin Slade managed to open the scoring on the second attempt after missing the first.
The dysfunctional Cheetahs line-out was keeping the visitors well supplied with possession, and the home side also got shoved backwards in a scrum, but that did not stop them from scoring the opening try as a flowing backline move saw Cornal Hendricks score in the corner.
Johann Sadie made the initial break and he was well supported by Hennie Daniller who put the former Sevens Bok away, and Elgar Watts who had come on for a concussed Johan Goosen slotted the touchline conversion to put them 7-3 up.
Slade narrowed the gap to one point with another penalty after Cheetahs tighthead Maks van Dyk was blown up at a scrum, and the Crusaders were in the lead when Israel Dagg got on the end of a well-weighted grubber to score their first try.
Willie le Roux had shot up from fullback to go for the intercept, and Dagg was only too happy to take advantage of the space left at the back to canter in.
The Cheetahs responded with a penalty from Watts after the Crusaders were caught offside, but two more from Slade before half-time saw the visitors take a 19-10 lead into the break.
The Crusaders made the perfect start to the second half by taking the kick-off from the Cheetahs and sending it wide where Kieran Read produced a sublime pass to put Nadolo over for an easy try.
The Cheetahs were right up against it and flung it wide in typical style as they searched for an opening, with the moment of magic coming from Sadie who collected his own chip to get in behind the Crusaders defence and set up Sarel Pretorius who used his pace to score in the corner.
The home side continued to swing it and they were rewarded for their positive approach when replacement Teboho 'Oupa' Mohoje broke a tackle and spinted away to score under the poles.
That impressive solo effort brought the Cheetahs right back in the game and it was not long before they had the bonus point and the lead as a speculative cross-kick from Watts under advantage saw Le Roux skip over in the corner.
However, they did not have the lead for long as Crusaders replacement Tom Taylor finished off a good passage of support play from his side which was sparked by a break in midfield from big lock Dominic Bird.
The Cheetahs continued to send it very wide very quickly, and once the turnover came the Crusaders pounced as a quick tap saw Slade burst through and put Nadolo over for his second which secured the bonus point.
That put the Crusaders seven points ahead with ten minutes to play and it was one last roll of the dice for the Cheetahs who were punished by late tries from Slade and Nadolo.
Man of the match: There were a few Cheetahs that impressed, Sarel Pretorius and Willie le Roux had a few moments of magic. Nemani Nadolo did score a hat-trick whicn showed his impressive finishing abilities, but the star of the show was Colin Slade who controlled the game expertly.
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Hendricks, Pretorius, Mohoje, Le Roux
Cons: Watts 4
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Dagg, Nadolo 3, Taylor, Slade
Cons: Slade 4
Pens: Slade 4
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Hennie Daniller, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Pieter Labuschagné, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Tom Taylor.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Francois de Bruin Francois (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)