The inconsistent Canterbury Crusaders were back to their efficient best yesterday as they recorded a 30-23 win over the Super Rugby-leading ACT Brumbies in Canberra.
Scrumhalf Andy Ellis, winger Zac Guilford and replacement Israel Dagg grabbed the tries, while Dan Carter was imperious as ever with his kicking as the Crusaders forced numerous turnovers with some tough tackling.
After disappointing losses to the Hurricanes and the Western Force, the Crusaders sixth win in 10 matches this season provided a watershed moment for captain George Whitelock.
“We thought this game would be season defining and we got there and have done the job so now after 10 rounds we get the bye and can freshen up,” the flanker said in a pitchside interview.
“We knew we had to front up tonight and get physical and I’m pretty pleased with the way the boys did it,” he said.
“We talked about it all week that that was going to be the winning of the game and the guys got off the line and made some big hits and made the tackles count tonight so that was pretty pleasing,” Whitelock said.
KINGS V WARATAHS
Winger Cam Crawford scored a first-half hat-trick as Australia’s Waratahs went on a record scoring spree to thrash South Africa’s Southern Kings 72-10 in their Super Rugby match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The visitors ran in 11 tries — the first from Crawford after just 36 seconds — as they set a new competition record for the biggest wining margin by an away team with an overwhelming display of power rugby and backline running.
The rout featured six tries scored in the first half-hour with the Kings bewildered by the early onslaught and subsequently never in the game, their much vaunted defense splintered from the start by the pace of the Waratahs.
BULLS V HURRICANES
All Black center Conrad Smith was knocked out and taken to hospital as South Africa’s Bulls blew past New Zealand’s Hurricanes 48-14 in a one-sided Super Rugby contest at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The visitors lost their captain just before the half-hour mark when he came off worse in a tackle with J.J. Engelbrecht and was carried off on a stretcher.
The fourth straight win for the Pretoria franchise lifted the Bulls to the top of the South African conference, two points ahead of the second-placed Cheetahs.
The Bulls have improved steadily as the season has gone on and captain Pierre Spies said their set-piece dominance had laid the platform for the latest win.
“It was a pretty good night for us, we had a good start and that created the foundation. We are putting a lot of focus on our set-pieces and having a lineout coach like Victor Matfield has really helped,” he told television reporters.
“We are now looking forward to a bye next week. It will be nice to sit-back and watch everybody else battle it out,” Spies said.