Crusaders beat Reds 37-15 in 1st Super Rugby quarterfinal
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The Christchurch-based Crusaders finished strongly with three tries in the last 30 minutes to beat the Queensland Reds 37-15 Friday in the first quarterfinal in Super Rugby Pacific.
The victory ensured a home semifinal next weekend.
The Reds took the match to the Crusaders with a physical performance and trailed 16-15 when winger Filipo Daugunu scored a try in the 42nd minute.
Flyhalf Lawson Creighton had a chance to put the Reds ahead with a penalty five minutes later but sent a relatively easy chance wide of the posts.
The Crusaders broke open a tight contest with a try by All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo’unga in the 57th minute and late tries from winger Sevu Reece and prop Tamaiti Williams made their win appear more convincing than it was.
“I think you’ve got to be happy to earn another week in a tough competition,” Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said. “But I think we have to be better if we’re going to be honest with ourselves.
“In the finals the intensity and physicality goes up a level and we saw that tonight. I think finals are built on big moments and if we can get energy from our scrum and defense, it goes a long way to earning another week in this competition.”
The teams met in the last round of the regular season last weekend when the Crusaders led 21-3 at halftime and held on to win 28-13 after being outscored in the second half.
The Reds stayed in Christchurch through the week and brought the intensity they showed in last weekend’s match to the quarterfinal. They disrupted the Crusaders’ game with physical defense, forced breakdown turnovers and then put pressure on.
But they struggled a little at scrums and found themselves increasingly unable to shut down the Crusaders’ attacking game as the second half progressed. The loss of scrumhalf Tate McDermott to a head injury midway through the second half was a costly blow to the Reds.
“Credit to the Crusaders, they were brilliant tonight,” Reds captain Liam Wright said. “I thought our boys really stuck it to them and took the challenge to them in that first 50-odd minutes but the Crusaders outclassed us in that last 20 or 30 minutes.”
The Reds scored first with a penalty by Lawson in the sixth minute which was matched by a penalty from Mo’unga three minutes later.
The Crusaders went ahead with a try by fullback Will Jordan, who finished after interplay by center David Havili and Reece.
The Reds hit back with a try from winger Suliasi Vunivalu but consecutive penalties gave the Crusaders a 16-8 lead at halftime.
Daugunu’s try cut the lead to a point but the Crusaders finished strongly with Mo’unga’s try and tries by Reece and Williams in the 65th and 74th minutes.
In quarterfinals on Saturday, the Hamilton-based Chiefs face the New South Wales Waratahs, the Auckland-based Blues meet the Dunedin-based Highlanders and the ACT Brumbies host the Wellington-based Hurricanes.
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