Mon, Apr 09, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Crusaders make Western Force pay for comments



The Canterbury Crusaders punished the Western Force for a lack of respect in the 10th round of rugby's Super 14, beating the Perth-based team 53-0 for their 100th victory in the tournament.

The Crusaders, now a threatening second on the championship table, are the benchmark by which all Super 14 teams are measured, having won six Super 12 titles in 10 years and last year's inaugural Super 14.

By that standard alone, they have earned the respect of their opponents. But the Force, dizzied by their rise to third place on this season's ladder, showed scant respect for the Crusaders' record in the leadup to the game.

"The Crusaders have won 24 games or something like that at home, but this group of boys don't hold any fears of records or teams," captain Nathan Sharpe said last week.

Sharpe's comments were a red flag to a bull and the Crusaders punished them with their most comprehensive performance of the season.

Lock Ross Filipo scored three tries, all in the second half, and Kieran Read, an early replacement for Filipo's locking partner Michael Paterson, scored two as the Crusaders won by eight tries to none on Saturday.

Seven of the Crusaders' tries were scored by forwards. All Blacks winger Rico Gear scored the only try by a Canterbury back, his 40th in Super 14 rugby and his sixth of the season.

"Those tight forwards were scoring all the tries while the backs were doing all the cleanouts," Crusaders coach Robbie Deans said.

"The key is if you don't care who gets the credit you have a better chance of achieving the things you want to," he said.

The Crusaders' win left them only four points behind the Auckland Blues who cemented top place on the championship table with a 26-8 win on Friday over South Africa's Cheetahs. The Force found themselves in a declining fourth place with matches to play against the Waikato Chiefs, ACT Brumbies, Cheetahs and Blues.

The Blues' win over the Cheetahs at Eden Park contained many of the elements which have distinguished this season, their best since 2003.

The Cheetahs were a more effective defensive side than the scoreline suggested but the Blues created three clear scoring chances and clinically took them all.

Those chances were all made by discarded All Blacks center Isaia Toeava whose clean line breaks have been a feature of Auckland's season.

"The pleasing thing is that the backs as a unit are starting to read each other's style of play, and once they get a sense of something happening they are reacting," coach David Nucifora said.

The Blues tries were scored by halfback Steve Devine and wingers Doug Howlett and Anthony Tuitavake. Howlett's was his 59th in Super rugby.

Ten tries, five to each side, were scored in the match between the Chiefs and Highlanders, won 38-34 by the Chiefs.

The match was the first Super 14 contest in the alpine resort of Queenstown.

All Blacks winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, moved to fullback for the day, scored two tries for the Chiefs and set up two for center Lelia Masaga.

Nine of the 10 tries were scored by backs and only All Blacks hooker Anton Oliver, for the Highlanders, managed to touch down for the forwards.

The Sharks, who started the season with six straight wins before losing to the Brumbies and Force, returned to form, scoring nine tries in a 59-16 win over the Queensland Reds.

Queensland coach Eddie Jones condemned his team's disappointing performance.

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