NEWS ARTICLES
Crusaders earn home playoff
Reuters
July 14, 2012

The Crusaders smashed Australia's Force in the first half before claiming a bonus-point 38-24 victory to secure fourth place in the final Vodacom Super Rugby standings on Saturday.

The seven-time champions ran in tries through Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Andy Ellis and Matt Todd before the break to ensure a playoff back at Rugby League Park in Christchurch next weekend, most likely against South Africa's Bulls or Sharks.

All Blacks Dan Carter and Richie McCaw were withdrawn at halftime for the playoff campaign ahead and the Crusaders took their foot off the gas to allow the Perth-based Force back into the contest in the second half.

The Force scored a converted tries through Kyle Godwin, Alfie Mafi and Josh Holmes to give Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe something to smile about in his 162nd and final Super Rugby match.

"We played with good intensity at the end of the first half and really had them on the ropes and it's a shame we couldn't continue it," Crusaders skipper McCaw said in a televised interview.

"We're back to square one next week and we've ourself a chance in the finals so we'll see how that goes."

The Crusaders started at a canter and the match was less than a minute old when fullback Dagg touched down in the corner and flyhalf Carter converted brilliantly from the touchline.

While there was room for debate about whether Dagg had got the ball down cleanly, there was no doubt about Maitland's effort 15 minutes later after the winger cut through the defence to score.

The fourth official was back in action after 34 minutes, however, and he confirmed the third try despite scrumhalf Ellis forcing his way over the line with what looked like a double movement.

The pick of the tries came straight from the ensuing kickoff with McCaw, playing at No 8, snaring the ball and sparking a sweeping move that flanker Todd finished off from a metre out.

Carter had time to kick his second penalty and send his team into the break 32-3 up with, barring an incredible turnaround, fourth place in the final standings in the bag.

There was to be no fairytale ending for Sharpe, however, although lively replacement back Godwin grasped his opportunity to impress with a good take of a low pass for his try and a neat inside pass to give fullback Mafi the second.

Crusaders flanker George Whitelock was sin-binned six minutes from time for slowing down Force ball and the visitors took advantage to score their third try from a neat back row move.

"It was very spirited," said Sharpe. "But you can't give the Crusaders the start we gave them in the first half.

"I had my last game against the team I consider to be the toughest competition I faced over my career."

SCORERS

Crusaders – Tries: Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Andrew Ellis, Matt Todd. Conversions: Dan Carter (3). Penalties: Carter (2), Tom Taylor (2).

Force – Tries: Kyle Godwin, Alfi Mafi, Joshua Holmes. Conversions: Brett Sheehan (2), Godwin. Penalty: Ben Seymour.

MATCH CENTRE
FIXTURES
     
RESULTS
     
Vodacom Super Rugby
Friday, April 18 2014
09:35 - Hurricanes vs Blues
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
11:40 - Rebels vs Force
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday, April 19 2014
09:35 - Chiefs vs Crusaders
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
11:40 - Waratahs vs Vodacom Bulls
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Cell C Community Cup
12:30 - Roses United vs Old Selbornians
Outeniqua Park, George
14:45 - Despatch vs Centurion
Outeniqua Park, George
Vodacom Super Rugby
15:00 - Cell C Sharks vs Toyota Cheetahs
Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Cell C Community Cup
17:00 - College Rovers vs Impala
Outeniqua Park, George
Vodacom Super Rugby
17:05 - DHL Stormers vs Lions
DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Cell C Community Cup
19:15 - Roodepoort vs Hamiltons
Outeniqua Park, George

Copyright 2011 - SARU. All Rights Reserved.