Crusaders beat Reds 28-15 in Super Rugby, seal 2nd place

May 27, 2022 GMT

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The Christchurch-based Crusaders secured second place in the Super Rugby Pacific standings with a 28-15 win over the Queensland Reds on Friday at the start of the final round of the regular season.

The same teams likely will meet in a quarterfinal match at the same Christchurch venue next weekend.

The Crusaders started strongly with two converted tries in the first 15 minutes and a third just before halftime which gave them a 21-3 lead at the break.

But they didn’t score again until the 66th minute and had to hold out against an improving Reds team which scored two tries in the second half.

The match began to lose its structure late in the first half and became scrappy and disorganized through the second. Poor kicking and the smothering defenses of both teams, along with a high rate of handling errors, made the game one of the most unattractive of the season so far.

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“I think that probably confirms that the Reds are coming back here next week,” Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said. “This whole week we focused on ourselves and not looking too far ahead.

“We probably have a playoff round the corner but it’s about us getting momentum, playing some rugby that we’re proud of.”

The Crusaders had looked unstoppable. They moved the ball rapidly to both sides of the field. Backs and forwards ran strongly into contact and quickly recycled ball allowed them to stretch the Reds’ defense.

Former Argentina captain Pablo Matera came close to scoring for the Crusaders in the third minute but his long dash down the left proved fruitless when he dropped the ball over the goal line.

Flyhalf Fergus Burke scored the first try of the match in the 11th minute and prolific fullback Will Jordan added another only four minutes later to put the Crusaders ahead 14-0.

From then on the Crusaders’ backs were pressured into too many handling errors. The forwards tried to take charge but they weren’t able to make progress through the more solid Reds defense.

“I think we were creating in that first half but there was a little bit of a lack of patience and not being clinical enough,” Barrett said. “Come playoff times those opportunities are probably going to be less and we’re going to have to be more clinical.”

The Reds looked better organized in the second half and took the ball forward more strongly. Matera was sent to the sin bin for a lifting tackle and the Reds quickly capitalized with a try to replacement hooker Richie Asiata.

The Crusaders finally broke through for a try to flanker Tom Christie before the Reds’ forwards combined to create the last try of the match for Harry Wilson.

“We just lost the contact zone early,” Reds captain Tate McDermott said. “We came out a bit shell-shocked and when you give any team, particularly the Crusaders, a 21-point head start it’s not ideal.”

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