Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday 12th April 2003, 7:35 pm
Full time 65 - 35
Half time 46 - 13
After watching the Hurricanes / Waratahs game for a bit of light relief (on Friday evening), I was expecting a bit less excitement from the C C's (note to self, get sponsorship deal BEFORE mentioning products ;-( ).
But the Crusaders seemed to have learnt something from the bollicking that they deserved after last weeks game. Not a particularly nasty bollicking you understand, just a general "you have to play like you want to win" message.
Whatever was said it must have sunk in, and I'm glad to see that my comments about the 5/8s had been noted, as they worked well for the first time since Mertz was injured. Actually “well” doesn’t come close to the skill and smoothness with which Carter and the Mauger boys were passing.
OK, before you mention it, the Cats did suck fairly badly in the first half. But the Crusaders backs were still scoring like the first day of tupping (sorry about the shepherding talk, I went on my first high country muster yesterday!).
A four try bonus point before half time is always… well a bonus!
And certainly 7 (Leon MacDonald, Ben Hurst, Caleb Ralph (2), Nathan Mauger, Richie McCaw, Aaron Mauger) by half-time was a mighty effort, reminiscent of another game (against some “flowers” I think… but last year). I still think that scoring 8 tries in forty minutes is well worth a second BP!
It was lucky that young Kennedy (who stole my neck?) Tsimba had a good turn of imagination, or else the kick-offs would have gotten rather monotonous. Well monotonous... in a "damn that must mean another try to us..." way! He was dropping them all over the place, and a couple even resulted in possession for the Cats!
I think that he did in fact run out of ideas in the end and actually kicked off straight to Norm Maxwell. Must have been a bit of a shock for Maxy.
Most everybody in the Crusaders had a good game, it was certainly lots of “we can’t do anything wrong” moments (at least in the first half). Much like the way those nasty Blues played against us in round 3, except I don’t remember enjoying that one quite as much.
Though comparing it to another game (96-19) it wasn’t a perfect display even in the first half. The Cats had a good run in the second spell outscoring the R&Bs by 22 to 19. Though it was a bit too late, it still made the game more interesting, with the guys having to actually do some defending.
Let’s not talk about the scrums! Oh alright then… they were a mess!
Some people would say that was because Feek played the whole game (something I think he was due). But I think it would be closer to the truth to say that both front rows weren’t properly socialised at a young age. Not a kindergarten graduate amongst them!
One scrum actually tidied up enough to give Cory Flynn a tight head, but the rest of the time it was a nightmare, so much so that Auzy Referee Stewart Dickerson finally resorted to free kicks.
The lineouts were a bit better. A good stable set piece from both sides, with the R&Bs obviously enjoying having 2 giraffes to throw to. Good competing, with a couple of wins off the opposition throw (to the Cats I recall). Lineout “moment” was Mad Max’s mid air lunge to catch a throw that was dropping way short of him. Comical to watch, but the landing could have killed him.
Maaate! That’s dedication!
There was a perfectly bizarre moment when everybody hung back from a maul formed from a Crusader’s lineout take. Even the commentators were floundering, not able to work out what was going on. I realised later that it was the “numbers in the lineout - can’t join a lineout until it has broken up” rule being played.
In fact I don’t think that anybody on either side joined the maul until the Ref finally called that the lineout was over. A surreal moment – forwards blatantly playing within the rules of the game! What is the world coming to?
Shouldn’t mention Bobby’s haircut, which has got to be the result of losing a bet. He couldn’t even get a Mohawk right! I’m sure it worked a charm with impressing referee Dickerson. But Skinstad did get a try, so I guess the Cats fans are raving about it being a fashion statement.
In the end the Crusaders scored 10 tries to 9 guys, including a try to Brad Thorn who came on for about 10 minutes (may even have been less). Even Scott Hamilton had a chance to look semi competent though that may have been the Cats factor again. He got a good try and looks better at fullback, but not much better.
Ben Hurst had a good game, will be interesting to see him again next week, especially if the Shark’s pack is any better. Didn’t think that Scott Roberson had a great time scrummaging (I don’t think that he ever really does) but his open play was superb. He has some work to do if he wants to be in the ABs again.
Cory Flynn had a blinder, as did Richie McCaw scoring a second try in as many weeks. Glad all these guys are coming right before they head to the Republic.
Rumour time: Does Caleb Ralph have something against Rangi MacDonald?!? Both of his tries could have been scored closer to the posts. It was almost like payback for a hard tackle in midweek practice (Kick this one over you bastard!). As it happens I think Rangi converted both! Not bad stats from the #3 kicker, 6 from 10 and 1 penalty.
Congratulations once again to Tsimba, who kicked 100% (Cons 4, Pens 2)!
The Crusaders were stung with a couple of late tries; at least one was soft. The Cats deserved their BP, but I would have liked 80 minutes of honest “D” from the R&Bs.
Still now they have the 5/8s and most of the “ruck & maul support” sorted, they need something to work on this week.
And it wouldn’t be right to moan about only achieving a 30 point margin. Not right at all!
Go the Crusaders!!!!!