The Canterbury Crusaders got their Super Rugby campaign up and running yesterday with a comprehensive win over the Bulls in Christchurch.
After losing their opening two matches, things finally clicked for the seven-times champions as they turned on the style against the high-flying Bulls, scoring six tries in their first home match of the season.
Robbie Fruean, Kieran Read, Johnny McNicholl and Tom Marshall secured a four-try bonus point by the 45th minute before prop Wyatt Crockett and Willi Heinz added to the tally. “The intent was there and it showed that, when we get it right, we can be really dangerous,” Read said.
The Bulls touched down only once near the end through Ryan Stegmann, with their other points coming from the boot of Morne Steyn. The Bulls were fresh off their first win at Eden Park and the prospect of losing their opening three games for the first time since 1996 seemed to unnerve the Crusaders, with Fruean twice dropping a simple pass under relatively pressure.
The centre made amends in the best possible style, though. An 11-phase move during which Read and the Whitelock brothers, Sam and George, all made good ground ended with the centre collecting a simple pass and crossing unopposed.
Dan Carter added the extras for a 10-3 lead. That got the Crusaders rolling and the sustained pressure ended with Read shoving his way over the line with assistance from several team-mates.
Steyn got six points back with a pair of penalties but the Crusaders responded in style, working it forward through multiple phases and pounding the Bulls’ line under the posts before taking it wide and allowing Johnny McNicholl to cross on the left wing.
Carter’s conversion made it 22-9 at the interval and, after Steyn slotted his fourth penalty, Marshall lit up the match with a great individual try, breaking the line and racing half the length of the field.
Marshall laid the platform for the fifth try with a burst upfield and Crockett feinted to pass, only to put his head down and charge through two men over the line.
A rolling maul took the Bulls to within striking distance and Stegmann crossed the line before Heinz crossed late on to round off the scoring.