Crusaders return to winning ways


Giant Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo was a central figure in the bonus point win, creating the space and firing the last pass for three of the Crusaders four tries.

All Blacks Richie McCaw and Ryan Crotty also made considerable contributions as the Crusaders produced a much improved effort after losing their last two games, both of them at home.

McCaw claimed turnovers that lead to two tries and Crotty, who missed last week's 26-9 loss to the Waikato Chiefs, added punch in the centres.

However, McCaw's match finished early after he was forced from the field with a head knock midway through the second half.

The Crusaders now have five wins from 10 games with captain Kieran Read noting the seven-times champions had kept their play-off chances alive but had a lot of work to do.

“It's a start but we can't too carried away, we've just got to keep working at it,” he said.

“It wasn't perfect but a big step up from last week.”

The Blues, who have now lost nine of 10 games this year, made eight changes to their side which included the omission of All Blacks Jerome Kaino, James Parson and Charles Piutau.

With 20 minutes remaining and the Crusaders up 29-10, All Blacks props Tony Woodcock and Charlie Faumuina were replaced leaving them with a novice look.

The Crusaders made a flying start with tries to Mitchell Drummond and Jordan Taufua both scored following incisive runs by Nadolo in moves which originated with McCaw turnovers.

The Blues weathered further pressure as the red-and-blacks spurned kickable penalties in pursuit of a third try, struck back with a penalty by Dan Bowden and a try to Francis Saili before a Colin Slade penalty left the Crusaders ahead 17-10 at half-time.

Nadolo was immediately in the action at the start of the second half when he busted past two Blues defenders before unloading an inside pass to Tom Taylor for the try.

Hooker Codie Taylor ensured the bonus point for the Crusaders when the Blues ran out of defenders with replacement scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul only a minute after taking the field.

The Blues struck back with a well-constructed try to Brendon O'Connor to close the gap to 29-15 with 15 minutes remaining.

But although they had plenty of possession in the closing 15 minutes their error count was too high to make any further impression.– AFP

Original source: Crusaders return to winning ways