Match report: Crusaders win unspectacular contest
April 20, 2007
It wasn't the spectacle many were hoping for but the Crusaders did enough to all but ruin the Hurricanes' Super 14 rugby semifinal hopes in Christchurch tonight.
In a game that seemed to spend more time in limbo than anything else there were only a few glimpses of play to get excited about as the 23-13 final score put the home team temporarily clear at the top of the leader board.
The Hurricanes now need miracle results from other remaining round robin games to make it to the semifinals.
Last year's finalists were on the pace at halftime, trailing only 17-13, but hopes of closing the gap diminished early in the second half when Jerry Collins was stretchered off the field.
The All Black flanker collided in a tackle with Crusaders second five-eighth Rua Tipoki and appeared to jar his neck before hitting the ground and lying motionless until medics arrived.
The situation got worse when Ma'a Nonu was sin-binned for repeatedly crashing into opposing backs without using his arms.
Nonu had silenced the Jade Stadium crowd early in the first half by scoring a smart try near the posts following a scrum deep in Crusaders territory.
But the good work was undone only minutes later when Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn slipped some weak tackling to score at the other end.
Another Hurricanes defensive lapse enabled lock Ross Filipo to score a converted try and put the score out to 17-7 before Hurricanes first five-eighth Piri Weepu slotted a couple of penalties.
The halftime score of 17-13 remained unchanged until the 65th minute when Dan Carter kicked an easy penalty.
There were good individual efforts at times from the likes of Hurricanes captain Rodney So'oialo and fullback Cory Jane.
The Crusaders came under heavy pressure several minutes out from fulltime when they had to fight on their own goal line, but their defence was up to the task.
Carter put the final nail in the coffin with a penalty following an offside offence close to fulltime.
The All Black first five eighth had a relatively quiet running game but slotted five out of his six kicks.
The Hurricanes went close to scoring a try right on fulltime that would have given them a bonus point, but were again stopped in their tracks along with their title hopes.
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw said there was a lot of turnover and that it was hard to get any flow going.
"The break downs were fairly messy and that was mainly because we were tackling pretty hard and flying numbers in, so it was hard to get a roll on ..."
McCaw said defence could win matches and tonight's game was an example of that.
Result of the Super 14 rugby match between the Crusaders and Hurricanes at Jade Stadium tonight:
Crusaders 23 (Corey Flynn, Ross Filipo, tries; Dan Carter 3 pen, 2 con) Hurricaes 13 (Ma'a Nonu, try; Piri Weepu 2 pen 1 con). Halftime: 17-13