The Canterbury Crusaders emerged from their early season lethargy with a vengeance yesterday, hammering the previously unbeaten Northern Bulls 41-19 at AMI Stadium.
The seven-times Super champions, in their first home match of the season, scored six tries to one as they notched up their first win this year by running South Africa’s Bulls to a standstill.
It was not a perfect performance from the Crusaders, with multiple errors, but contained enough pace and venom to show their early losses to the Auckland Blues and Wellington Hurricanes were an aberration.
The Bulls went into the match brimming with confidence after their impressive win last week over the Blues, but had no answer to the power and speed of the Crusaders’ high-octane game.
“They kept us out of our game,” Bulls captain Pierre Spies said.
“In the lineouts they were very good. The scrums they also put us under pressure. Also, we couldn’t get out of our half. We kept playing in our own half and you can’t build any proper momentum so credit to them for that,” he said.
REDS V FORCE
Reuters, BRISBANE, Australia
The Western Force dealt the Queensland Reds a surprise home defeat yesterday, overpowering the 2011 champions for a 19-12 Super Rugby win in Brisbane.
The Reds, chasing a 23rd win from 26 home matches, never came close to their fluent best in a hard-fought encounter with Quade Cooper below par and handling errors throughout the team in the face of some ferocious pressure.
Alfi Mafi scored the only try and Sias Ebersohn kicked 14 points for the Perth outfit, who started the match next to last in the overall standings and were unlucky not to clinch their first win of the season by a bigger margin.
KINGS V CHIEFS
AFP, PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa
Former All Black Lelia Masaga scored three tries as Waikato Chiefs of New Zealand rounded off a South Africa tour with a 35-24 victory over Southern Kings on Friday.
The right wing dotted down twice during a first half that ended with the visitors 18-13 ahead and completed his hat-trick 13 minutes into the second half.
His third earned Chiefs a four-try bonus point and the southern hemisphere championship title-holders flew home with seven points after bagging two in a narrow loss at Western Stormers last weekend.