Crusaders - Canterbury Rugby Football Union - Crusaders fully deserve brave victory
The Crusaders secured a brave 33-18 victory over the Waratahs in an emotion-filled match at Nelson's Trafalgar Park tonight.
Normally known for their red and black colours, the Crusaders wore a special edition red and white jersey - West Coast colours - to honour the 29 men who died in the Pike River Mine disaster.
There was plenty of pressure on the Crusaders to perform in the match, which was also dedicated to all those who have died in the recent devastating earthquake.
And the Crusaders didn't disappoint, coming back strongly after a slow start to score 20 unanswered points in an 11-minute period before halftime to effectively secure the match.
Robbie Fruean starred with two tries, including a sensational intercept, and debutant Sonny Bill Williams also dotted down.
Fruean and Williams were a handful for the Waratahs but this victory began with an immense effort up front. Brad Thorn ran himself to a standstill and the loose forwards Matt Todd and George Whitelock were outstanding.
The scrum had the Waratahs in trouble and that set the platform. Wyatt Crockett had another blinder and Corey Flynn played well at hooker.
The substitutes added value too, with Chris Jack in his 99th game showing up, along with another new boy, Tom Marshall, playing on his home ground.
"I've never been prouder as a coach," said Todd Blackadder after the victory, which came following a loss in round one to the Blues and last week's abandoned game against the Hurricanes, which was registered as a scoreless draw.
Blackadder's men were outstanding tonight and thoroughly deserved their victory. The defence was incredible at times and the Waratahs never had time to settle following their good start.
The 11,000 strong crowd, a sellout, played its part too. Following the impeccably observed moment's silence before the kickoff, the crowd - virtually all of whom were dressed in red and black - got right behind their team.