The Crusaders raised the ante in the final quarter to whip the Waratahs 34-7 in their Vodacom Super 14 rugby match played at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Friday.
Superrugby reports that the Waratahs held the Crusaders to 6-0 at halftime and then shocked Richie McCaw’s men by scoring the game’s first try, by Wycliff Palu, in the 50th minute to take a 7-6 lead against the run of play.
But scoring a try was almost the worst thing the Waratahs could have done as they awoke the sleeping giant.
The Crusaders had been uncharacteristically sloppy up to then — knocking on, spilling balls in the tackle, pushing risky passes and falling behind was they wake-up call they needed.
The Waratahs had defended determinedly to set in store an upset but once the Crusaders, in the words of skipper Richie McCaw began to “look after the ball in contact” it was impossible to stop the charge of the red cavalry.
Casey Laulala chased and caught an up-and-under by Tim Bateman to score their opening try in the 54th minute and in the final quarter three more followed as the Saders added another bonus point to their impressive haul in stringing together six successive victories.
The Crusaders’ exceptional ability to control the ball through multiple phases was evident as forwards Mose Tuiali’i and Wyatt Crockett got the next two tries before a pin-point hanging cross-kick by Dan Carter in the last minute enabled Brad Thorn to challenge Lachlan Turner in the air and turn the ball down to Scott Hamilton who wheeled in for the bonus point try.
With their closest chasers, the Sharks and the Hurricanes in their bye weekend, the Crusaders were thus assured of emerging from the Easter Weekend with at least an eight-point lead at the top of the log while the Waratahs, who finish their season with three away games including a two-match trip to South Africa, slipped back into the logjam of teams challenging for the bottom spots in the last four.
Crusaders (6) 34: Tries by Casey Laulala (54 min), Mose Tuiali’i (65 min), Wyatt Crockett (72 min) and Scott Hamilton (79 min). Dan Carter kicked four conversions and two penalties.
Waratahs (0) 7: Try by Wycliff Palu (50 min). Kurtley Beale kicked a conversion.Tweet