Mon, Jul 04, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Crusaders top Stormers in semis

ROAD WARRIORS:The 11,000km trip to South Africa did not slow down Canterbury, who have not played a home game all season, as they dominated play in the first half

Reuters, CAPE TOWN

Flyhalf Dan Carter scored 19 points to help the Canterbury Crusaders beat the Stormers 29-10 in their Super Rugby semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.

Carter’s two conversions and five penalties helped the Crusaders book a place in the final to set up a mouthwatering clash with Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

The Crusaders, chasing their eighth Super Rugby title, were full value for the win after scoring two tries against one for last year’s beaten finalists.

The Crusaders scored the first two tries through wing Sean Maitland and outside center Robbie Fruean, while Springbok wing Bryan Habana crossed for the hosts late in the first half.

Carter proved to be the difference between the teams and the 29-year-old missed just two attempts at goal as the Crusaders made light of the 11,000km they had to travel at the beginning of the week to contest the semi-final.

The Crusaders achievement in reaching the final was all the more remarkable because they did not play a single home match during the season after February’s earthquake in Canterbury rendered their stadium unplayable.

“We made the decision to stand up for the people at home and now we have given ourselves a chance by making the final,” Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw said. “I’m really proud of the guys who haven’t used travel as an excuse the whole season.”

The Crusaders had been the last team to win a playoff outside their home country when they triumphed in the 2000 final against the Brumbies in Canberra.

The hosts opened the scoring in front of a crowd of just more than 48,000 after seven minutes with a penalty by flyhalf Peter Grant, but the Crusaders took advantage of an error-ridden Stormers’ performance to roar into a 23-3 lead after 35 minutes.

Carter leveled the scores with his first penalty, before Maitland intercepted a loose pass from Stormers eighth man Nick Koster and galloped 50m to score the opening try.

Carter then nailed two long-range penalties and Crusaders asserted their dominance when inside center Sonny Bill Williams slipped through a half-gap before offloading to center partner Fruean, who dotted down alongside the posts for a converted try.

The Stormers, despite winning the territorial battle, were struggling to assert themselves in the face of some superbly aggressive defense from the visiting forwards, who constantly stopped their attacks behind the advantage line.

However, Habana finally gave the home fans something to cheer about when he dived over from close-range after taking a quick tap-penalty 5m from the visitors’ try line.

Grant succeeded with the conversion as the Stormers, who have never won a Super Rugby title, went to the break trailing 23-10.

The home side were far more competitive in the second half as they battled to break down the Crusaders defense.

Their best chance came in the 54th minute when only a diving tackle from wing Zac Guilford prevented center Jaque Fourie from scoring in the corner.

“We were outclassed by a better team in all facets of the game,” Stormers stand-in captain Jean de Villiers said.

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