All Blacks flyhalf Daniel Carter kicked four penalties and a dropped goal to guide the Canterbury Crusaders to a 20-12 win over New South Wales Waratahs in Saturday’s Super 14 rugby final, claiming their seventh title in 13 years.
The Crusaders were outscored two tries to one by the Waratahs but their otherwise spotless defensive performance and Carter’s 15 points ended coach Robbie Deans’ eight-year tenure with a valedictory championship.
Deans has coached the Crusaders since 2000 and shared Saturday in his fifth of their seven titles. He leaves immediately to take up his new role as Australia’s national coach and will inevitably include many of the Waratahs in his first Wallabies squad to be named within days.
Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie, who was also to step down from his position after Saturday’s match, guided his team to its second final appearance -its first was in Christchurch in 2005 – but was again left without a championship crown.
‘We kept our composure and that’s what happened’
New South Wales disconcerted Canterbury with two first half tries to winger Lachlan Turner, going to halftime with an unexpected 12-11 lead.
Canterbury held the Waratahs scoreless in the second half and built on the momentum of a late first-half try to provide opportunities for Carter to kick them to the title.
“We knew if we kept our composure at the start of the second half, the points would come. We kept our composure and that’s what happened,” said Canterbury captain Richie McCaw.
“It was tough out there. To get home… I don’t know how to describe it.
“Our defence was what was letting us down at the end of the round robin. We stepped it up last week and some of the hits going in tonight were just outstanding.”
‘They got the better of us tonight’
Carter scored the first points of the match, a penalty from a collapsed scrum in the third minute, but the Waratahs turned pre-match predictions on their head when Turner’s two tries gave them a 12-3 lead after 25 minutes.
The Wallabies winger scored his first try in the seventh minute when he timed his run onto an accurate crosskick from flyhalf Kurtley Beale and snatched the ball out of the air over the head of Carter, who was the solitary defender.
Turner scored again in the 25th minute when an intercept by Waratahs captain Phil Waugh turned defense into counter-attack. The ball moved quickly to Turner’s wing and he chip kicked over the defense, followed up and nudged the ball over the goalline, touching down ahead of the defense.
Beale added a conversion that widened the margin to nine points.
Carter kicked his second penalty in the 32nd minute and the Crusaders put themselves back in the match with a try to No.8 Mose Tuiali’i four minutes from halftime.
Canterbury attacked first down the left flank through winger Kade Poki, then moved the ball to the opposite side where quick passes from Brad Thorn and McCaw put Tuiali’i outside the last defender.
Canterbury led for the first time in 41 minutes when Carter kicked his third penalty in the fourth minute of the second half.
He widened the lead with his first dropped goal of the season in the 70th minute and made the game safe with a penalty six minutes from fulltime.
The Crusaders seemed to have another try when prop Wyatt Crockett touched down after a sprawling movement in the 56th minute but the score was disallowed because Thorn was seen to have punched Waratahs lock Dan Vickerman off the ball during the build-up.
Thorn received a yellow card but the Waratahs were unable to score during his 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
“They got the better of us tonight,” Waugh said.
“We just didn’t score a point in the second half. I said before the game it was about playing the full 80 minutes but after leading at halftime we didn’t go on with it.”
Canterbury 20 (Mose Tuiali’i try; Daniel Carter 4 penalties, dropped goal), New South Wales 12 (Lachlan Turner 2 tries; Kurtley Beale conversion). HT, 12-11.
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