Crusaders do it hard in Brisbane


Sunday, May 11, 2008    Photosport

Despite dominating possession throughout, the Crusaders trailed by 13 points late in the contest as the young Reds repeatedly repelled the tournament leaders.

But as they have done so often, the Crusaders stole the victory, and a bonus point, with a three-try blitz late in the second half.

Having led at the break, the Reds extended their advantage 11 minutes after the restart when Quade Cooper crossed to make it 21-8.

Crusaders coach Robbie Deans had seen enough and turned to his bench which included All Blacks first five-eighths Daniel Carter, halfback Andrew Ellis and lock Ali Williams.

The Reds held firm but when replacement wing Digby Ioane was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on centre Casey Laulala in the 66th minute the dam burst.

Loose forward Kieran Read burrowed over in the 67th minute to begin the onslaught before Williams and then Carter - making his first appearance in six weeks after overcoming an ankle injury - crossed to put the result beyond doubt.

Having totally dominated the early exchanges the Crusaders opened their account in the eighth minute when promising flyer Kade Poki evaded a desperate Chris Latham tackle to crash over out wide.

To make matters worse for the hosts, Latham - making his return from a four-week layoff with a knee complaint - was forced from the field with a shoulder injury suffered while attempting to prevent the try.

But despite the horror start, the Reds were next to strike against the run of play when first five-eighths Quade Cooper found skipper and lock James Horwill with a deft inside ball to level the scores in the thirteenth minute.

Fullback Clinton Schifcofske added the extras from close range to hand the hosts an unlikely 7-5 lead.

And when wing Peter Hynes crossed for his fourth try of the campaign five minutes later, the Reds extended the advantage to 14-5.

The Crusaders posted the final points of the half with a 22nd-minute penalty goal to close to within a converted try at 14-8.

But the Crusaders showed why they are the runaway leaders of the Super 14 comeback with a trademark great escape to deny the Reds the biggest boil over of the Super 14 season.

The Crusaders host the Highlanders in the final round of the regular season while the Reds will look to spoil the Waratahs' semi-final run in their Saturday night blockbuster at Suncorp.

Crusaders 27 (Kade Poki, Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Dan Carter tries; Carter 2 con; Brett pen) Reds 21 (James Horwill, Peter Hynes, Quade Cooper tries; Clinton Schifcofske 3 con). HT: 8-14