Super Rugby
Crusaders crush Reds in Christchurch
ESPN Staff
May 8, 2015
Date/Time: May 8, 2015, 19:35 local, 07:35 GMT
Venue: Rugby League Park, Christchurch
Crusaders 58 - 17 Queensland Reds
Half-time: 15 - 10
Tries: Bird, Ellis, Macilai, Nadolo 2, Slade, Todd, Whitelock
Cons: Slade 6
Pens: Slade 2
Tries: Feauai-Sautia, Kerevi
Cons: O'Connor 2
Pens: O'Connor
The Crusaders' Colin Slade (L), Andy Ellis (C) and Tom Taylor celebrate a try, Crusaders v Reds, Christchurch, May 8, 2015
The Crusaders' Colin Slade (L), Andy Ellis (C) and Tom Taylor celebrate
© Getty Images

The Crusaders remain in the hunt for a semi-finals spot following a crushing 41-point victory over the hapless Queensland Reds in Christchurch.

The home side led just 15-10 at the break but quickly found their feet in the second half and never looked back. Winger Nemani Nadolo was again the catalyst for much of their best attacking play, the Fijian giant scoring two tries and giving Reds fullback Lachie Turner all kinds of problems in a powerhouse display of running rugby.

The bonus-point win draws the seven-time champions to within two points of the Highlanders (third) in the New Zealand conference, with the Dunedin-based side facing the Lions in Johannesburg later in Round 13. The victory was particularly special for veteran playmaker Dan Carter and All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who were both playing their final game in Christchurch in as Crusaders shirt.

Crusaders 58-17 Reds (video available in Australia only)

The warning signs were there for the Reds from the outset as the Crusaders crossed for the game's first try after just two minutes. As has been the case for much of the season it was again Nadolo who gave the seven-time champions the thrust they needed, the winger charging down the left touchline, and over the top of Turner, before providing a basketball pass to halfback Andy Ellis for the try.

The Reds were able to hit back almost immediately however as James O'Connor kicked a penalty for the visitors. The struggling Aussie franchise had been content to kick away plenty of early possession and they would pay the price as the game moved towards the quarter mark. Again playing at inside-centre, Carter went on a counter-attacking run through the midfield and found Colin Slade on his inside, the fly-half using his pace to sprint 30 metres to the try-line.

The hosts look all but certain to score again just a couple of minutes later when Andy Ellis took a quick tap inside his own 22 and offloaded to Slade who once again opened the Reds up in midfield. The Crusaders No.10 then found Nafi Tuitavake in open space, but he was denied a try thanks to a sensational cover tackle from Reds skipper James Slipper.

The Reds had barely sighted the Crusaders' 22 inside the opening 25 minutes but they were finally given a chance to use Super Rugby's surprise attacking weapon of 2015, the rolling maul, via a couple of quick penalties. The visitors had the lineout drive well set on two occasions but after drawing another a penalty from referee Mike Fraser, they then turned over possession when Crusaders lock Dominic Burke forced his way through the middle of the maul.

Slade soon kicked the Crusaders out to a 15-3 lead with a penalty from right out in front before the Reds were given another opportunity to use their rolling maul. They would have some success on this occasion, too, as Bird was sent to sin-bin for collapsing the maul. But there would be no reward on the scoreboard as Reds hooker James Hanson was penalised for not releasing when the line beckoned.

The Reds probably deserved a try for their efforts, despite their failures on the rolling maul, and they would get it through rising centre Samu Kerevi right on half-time. The Reds again tried their luck with another short drive before Will Genia threw a flat pass to Kerevi, the centre having too much strength for Carter as he wrestled his way over the line. O'Connor added the extras to make it 15-10 to the Crusaders at the break.

Nemani Nadolo scored two tries and set up another two in a powerhouse display © Getty Images

The Reds may have gone into half-time with the momentum but it was a case of déjà vu upon the resumption as the Crusaders again scored within two minutes; just like the first half, it was Nadolo who delivered. The big winger would go all the way this time however as he plucked an intercept on halfway, bumped off Turner, and then survived the tackle of Nick Frisby to touch down in the corner. Slade added the extras from the sideline and then kicked another penalty a few minutes later to give the Crusaders the perfect start to the second stanza.

The game was done and dusted with 25 minutes to play when, you guessed it, Nadolo went over in the corner. While there was some suspicion of a knock-on and forward pass from Ellis following a quick tap, there was no doubt about the Fijian's run to the corner. And it would be back-to-back five-pointers for the home side as lock Sam Whitelock went on a 70-metre run to score what will surely go down as one of the tries of the year. Showing excellent speed for a second-rower, Whitelock beat four defenders on a powerhouse run that rubbed salt into the already rare Reds wounds.

The pain just kept coming for the Reds, too. Another long-range effort was this time finished off by flanker Matt Todd, the home fans barely having time to catch their breath with the Crusaders turning a five-point half-time advantage into a 46-10 lead with 20 minutes still to play.

The hosts added a further two tries inside the final quarter with replacement Jone Macilai and Bird touching down before Reds winger Chris Feauai-Sautia grabbed a consolation five-pointer in the shadows of full-time.

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