Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crusaders crush the Bulls in Super playoff

David Long

Crusaders 28 Bulls 13

The Crusaders may have only been the fourth seeds in this year's Super Rugby playoffs, but they showed against the Bulls that they should be regarded as one of the favourites to win the title.

The 28-13 win in Christchurch was far from a spectacle but the Todd Blackadder-coached side did an impressive job of being able to keep the scoreboard ticking over and gradually decrease the confidence of their opponents.

The Crusaders came into this game on the back of an unimpressive second half against the Western Force last weekend.

However, they were close to being back to their best last night, especially Dan Carter, who was superb in every facet required of a first-five.

Carter has shown for the All Blacks and Crusaders that he is a big game player and it is on nights like this where he'll rise to the occasion and confirm his position as the world's best No 10.

But while the Crusaders were impressive and continue their streak of making it to every semifinal since 2001, the Bulls just didn't show up.

Whatever their game plan was, they failed to execute it and this match demonstrated just how tough a task it is for a team to travel from South Africa to New Zealand or vice versa for a playoff game.

Just as the Crusaders have lost their last three playoff games in Pretoria, it was the same scenario for the Bulls in Christchurch, they looked flat, tired and uninspired.

The writing was on the wall early on and despite a scratchy start from both sides, the opening period of play concluded with Dan Carter penalties in the ninth minute and 11th minute.

The breakdown was a big battle throughout the game and although the Bulls won plenty of the contests, they also went too far at times and found themselves penalised by referee Jaco Peyper, which was something that played into Carter's hand, or boot.

In the 26th minute Carter put a superb pass to Zac Guildford after drawing in two defenders and the winger had a nice 20m run for the try.

Carter popped over a dropped goal to take the score to 16-0 when Peyper was playing advantage to the Crusaders.
Morne Steyn finally got the Bulls on the board in the 37th minute, bringing up his 1200th point in Super Rugby in the process.

Carter got the scoring underway in the second half with two more penalties, while the Bulls breathed some life into their challenge with a try in the corner to flanker Dewald Potgieter.

However, another Carter penalty in the 70th put an end to end to any such thoughts and the final 10 minutes were a case of just getting through it without any injuries and Wynand Olivier's try a few minutes from the game had zero impact on the outcome.

CRUSADERS 28 (Zac Guildford try Daniel Carter con 6 pens drop goal) bt BULLS 13 (Wynand Olivier, Dewald Potgieter tries Morne Steyn pen) at Christchurch Stadium. Referee: Jaco Peyper.

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