The Crusaders are struggling to make the play offs and need a strong run home to seal a spot. And host of their huge names are playing their last home game. The Reds are trying to salvage something, anything from their season. Both the Reds and the Crusaders have an us against the world attitude. This year the Crusaders are doing it better.
It only took 91 seconds for the Crusaders to open the scoring. From the kick off the Reds kicked the ball back to the Crusaders and they ran and ran at the reds until Nemani Nadolo found space and popped the ball inside to Andy Ellis to score. Carter converted and ominously the score was seven zip after three minutes. The Crusaders broke the Reds line three times in that first 90 seconds.
The Reds managed to scrape three points back and for the next 15 minutes held their own thanks in large to some exceptional openside play from Liam Gill. But Genia box kicked to the Crusaders and they shifted the ball to Carter who ran through the line and put Colin Slade in space. He ran over 40 metres to score. Once again the Reds paid for a momentary lapse of concentration.
The Crusaders were starting to cut through the Reds defence at will with only desperate defence from Frisby and Slipper saving tries. But it felt like it was only a matter of time before the flood gates opened. Somehow the Reds only conceded three points in the next few minutes. From the kick off the Reds managed to win some territory and camped in the Crusaders half for the rest of the half. The Reds set up maul after maul on the Crusaders line with no result except for the Sinbinning of Dominic Bird. Finally with seconds on the clock Genia passed the ball to a flying Kerevi who drew all three of the Crusaders inside backs and still managed to score. O’Connor Slotted the conversion as the half time hooter blasted. Crusaders 15 Reds 10.
The Reds started the second half just like the first. By gifting a try to the Crusaders. O’Connor had Thomson on his outside but his attempt to draw and pass landed in Nemani Nadolo hands and he ran 50 metres to score despite the attention of Frisby. Slade converted to stretch their lead to 23-10. The Reds have been competitive for large part of the game but then they see something shiny and lose the plot. Obviously the needed more James’s on the team sheet.
Nemani Nadolo scores another! There is no stopping the powerful winger once he gets up a head of steam. And then the Crusaders prove one Whitelock beats six James when he ran 60 metres through nearly the entire Reds team. Again it was converted and the score looked very bad with 25 minutes to go.
Todd was the next to score as the Crusaders destroy any hope the Reds had of being competitive. Nemani Nadolo made another break down his touchline and passed inside for Todd to score. The floodgates opened. The Reds completely lost their shape and any ideas. Jone Macilai who replaced Nadolo ran through the Reds for a great individual try. The score was now 51-10 with 15 minutes to play.
Dominic Bird scored next. I’m was too angry to write a play by play.
Chris Feauai-Sautia scored a consolation try for the Reds with seconds on the Clock. Until the last few minutes I hadn’t noticed him on the field.
The second half by the Reds was amongst the worst I have watched them play. While the players should shoulder some of the blame it’s the defence, attack and head coach who need to shoulder the blame.
The Game Changer
What happened at half time? Seriously what happened! Before the break the Reds dominated the Crusaders for 20 minutes. After Richard Graham’s half time talk they were a rabble and let in over thirty points.
The G&GR MOTM
Nemani Nadolo. He was a standout. You could add just about any Crusader to the list as standout players but none were as good as Nadolo
Will Genia had a great game but Liam Gill was exceptional. In fact he was so good I can’t understand why he was substituted with 15 minutes to go.
Score & Scorers
[one_half last=”no”]Crusaders: 58
Tries: Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Nemani Nadolo 2, Matt Todd, Jone Macilai, Sam Whitelock, Dominic Bird
Conversions: Colin Slade 6
Penalties: Colin Slade 2[/one_half]
[one_half last=”yes”]Reds: 10
Tries: Samu Kerevi, Chris Feauai-Sautia
Conversions: James O’Connor 2
Penalties: James O’Connor [/one_half]
Cards & citings
Dominic Bird (YC)