Crusaders withstand Highlanders' late onslaught
April 1, 2000
In an extraordinary game of non-stop, full-blooded action, the Crusaders maintained their their unbeaten Super 12 record with a 42-36 victory over the Highlanders in Christchurch tonight.
Leading 37-12 five minutes into the second half, the Highlanders were in grave danger of being crushed by the Crusaders. Four first half tries to Ralph, Berryman, Vunibaka and Cribb had already assured the Crusaders of a bonus point as they relentlessly moved the ball wide, backwards and forwards, finding and exploiting gaps in the Highlanders' defences. The Highlanders' only reply had been three penalties and a dropped goal from first five Tony Brown.
A second Cribb try, after some deft footwork by the big no 8 , brought fifty points within sight , but the Highlanders were in no mood to be humiliated. Superbly led by skipper Anton Oliver, they dominated the last half hour of the match, Hong Kong sevens hero Karl te Nana getting his side's scoring spree under way with a superb try on the right. This was quickly followed by tries from the workhorse Middleton and a breath taking effort from Tipoki, started by Brown behind his own line.
The Highlanders could never quite get close enough to really threaten, but Alatini scored a magnificent try at the end, sprinting from the Crusaders' 22 into the left hand corner, to give his side the substantial consolation of two bonus points.The Crusaders took a maximum of five.