Hot Crusaders enact cold vengeance on lukewarm Hurricanes
Earlier in the week, Hurricanes coach Jason Holland revealed that his side no longer take inspiration from last year’s heroic victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch. On the back of today’s crushing, however, it’s fair to suggest that the Crusaders certainly hadn’t forgotten the result – and were still hurting from the loss.
Despite having the early run of things, the Hurricanes were only able to amass a six-point lead through the boot of Jordie Barrett before the home side found their feet and chalked up 33 unanswered points. The game ultimately fell the way of the home side, 33-16.
Hurricanes pivot Jackson Garden-Bachop went close to scoring from an intercept early in the game but was eventually chased down by Leicester Fainga’anuku and Sevu Reece, then a scintillating run from Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea saw his side go close once more – but the Crusaders defence held strong.
A string of penalties leading into the second quarter of the game saw the Crusaders march up the field and Savea eventually saw yellow for some ill-discipline defending a maul. From that point on, it was all Crusaders.
First, Codie Taylor charged over from a quick tap.
Minutes later, Taylor transitioned from scorer to creator, making a 50-metre burst down the field before the ball eventually found first five Richie Mo’unga.
Two more tries followed soon after to flanker Ethan Blackadder and lock Scott Barrett and when the halftime siren sounded, the Hurricanes found themselves staring down the barrel of a 20-point deficit.
Taylor had himself a double early in the second half after a botched Hurricanes lineout five metres out from their goal line before the Hurricanes finally answered back with replacement hooker Ricky Riccitelli getting the points.
Returning outside back Will Jordan almost managed a try in the dying moments of the match following an exceptional kick-chase but the TMO ruled that the fullback hadn’t correctly grounded the ball. Seconds later, the Hurricanes scored a superb length of the field try – but it was too little too late.
Hooker Taylor was the pick of the Crusaders’ bunch – although there were strong performances across the park. Sevu Reece looked dangerous with ball in hand but also put in some dexterous kicks while flanker Tom Christie was industrious.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 7, 2021
The Crusaders are a formidable team wherever they play but the exceptional record they set at home from 2016 until last year was something else altogether.
Before the Hurricanes travelled down to Christchurch and struck gold last season, the Crusaders hadn’t tasted defeat in Christchurch since the Hurricanes’ previous win, in July 2016.
The Sharks came close, managing a 21-all draw in 2019, but that was as good as it got for visiting sides over an almost four-year period.
The Hurricanes’ 34-32 win last year doesn’t appear to have dampened the mythos of the Crusaders’ home turf, however, and any visiting sides best beware.
The Crusaders’ win takes them to top of the five-team ladder as the only unbeaten side to have played two matches. Next weekend they’ll face the Chiefs – who are on the cusp of setting a worst-ever New Zealand franchise record for defeats in a row.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have the week off to lick their wounds.
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