The Canterbury Crusaders stayed in the hunt yesterday to make the Super 14 playoffs, earning a crucial bonus point in a 32-12 win over the Queensland Reds.
The defending champions ran in five tries, starting with three in the first half by Thomas Waldrom, Owen Franks and Tim Bateman, for a comfortable 20-0 lead at the turn.
The vital fourth try came seven minutes after the break when the Crusaders capitalized on a turnover with Andy Ellis sending Jason MacDonald over.
Replacement wing Sean Maitland finished off the scoring for the Crusaders, who took a maximum five points from the game to move into fourth place.
Crusaders and All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald, playing probably his last home match, landed a penalty and two conversions before being subbed off with 20 minutes remaining and leaving the field to a standing ovation.
MacDonald is moving to Japan at the end of the Super 14 campaign — which for the Crusaders could be extended into the playoffs if they get another bonus-point victory against the Auckland Blues next week.
In a match played in greasy conditions, both sides were let down by handling errors, with the Crusaders in particular missing several scoring opportunities, but captain Richie McCaw declared himself satisfied with the result.
“Considering the conditions, I thought we played some good rugby. We played at the right end of the field and created a lot of opportunities,” he said. “It would have been nice to finish them all off, but we wanted five points out of the game and we got that. So we’re very happy.”