Crusaders do it hard against Sunwolves

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Saturday, April 21, 2018    Getty Images

A bonus point win is a bonus point win but after 50 minutes the game was very much in doubt with the Sunwolves trailing by just three points at 14-11.


It was an incredible turnaround from the Sunwolves who conceded two tries in the opening seven minutes to trail 14-0 and bring back memories of their 50-3 drubbing to the Crusaders at the same ground last year.

But as the weather deteriorated and the hail pelted down, the Sunwolves took control of the game with their superb ball retention in the wet and fast defence causing plenty of frustration for the home side.

It was hard to believe it was the bottom-placed team against the reigning champions as the Sunwolves outscored the Crusaders 11-0 for a 40 minute period.

But there was always a feeling that the Crusaders class would shine through and so it did when Ryan Crotty laid on a superb solo try to extend the lead to 21-11 after 56 minutes.

The Sunwolves never gave up and continued to throw the ball around but it was the Crusaders who finished stronger with tries to Manasa Mataele and Jack Stratton on debut capping off the bonus point 33-11 victory.

It took less than a minute for the Crusaders to open the scoring when Ryan Crotty went over out wide thanks to a superb set-up from veteran first five-eighth Mike Delany.

Starting his first Super Rugby game in over six years, 35-year-old Delany made an instant impact by slicing through a gap in midfield and sending a superb ball to Ryan Crotty to open the scoring.

Five minutes later, the Crusaders went over again when skipper Matt Todd crossed on the back of an all too easy lineout drive.

At 14-0 down after just seven minutes, the Sunwolves could have easily rolled over but they showed heart to fight back and make the Crusaders work for their win.

The Crusaders also welcomed three new caps in Jack Stratton, Ethan Blackadder and Harry Allan in the victory.

Crusaders 33 (Ryan Crotty 2, Matt Todd, Manasa Mataele, Jack Stratton tries, Mike Delany 3 con, Mitch Hunt con) Sunwolves 11 (Michael Little try, Hayden Parker 2 pen)
HT: 14-5