Sevu Reece crossed for two tries and set up another for Braydon Ennor as the Crusaders sent a chilling message to their Super Rugby rivals with a convincing 36-10 victory over South Africa’s Lions in Christchurch on Friday.
Reece was a late call-up by the Crusaders after he had a contract in Ireland cancelled due to a court appearance for assaulting his girlfriend. He has taken his second chance at a professional career with both hands.
George Bridge also scored two tries within the space of two second half-minutes while Richie Mo’unga celebrated his 50th appearance and a new three-year contract with 11 points for the nine-times champions.
Ruan Combrinck scored an intercept try for the visitors, who had lost to the Crusaders in both of the last two finals and while they caused some issues at the scrum, they were rarely able to put sustained pressure on the home side.
The Crusaders moved to 39 points with the victory, 12 ahead of the Hurricanes, who have the second-best points total (27) but are fourth in the overall standings due to the conference system.
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The Christchurch-based side initially looked to be partaking in a contested training run in the opening 10 minutes as every pass went to a team mate and every runner made ground.
Ennor’s try was set up by Reece’s perfectly timed run and pass that committed three defenders, while Mo’unga slotted an early penalty.
Despite a succession of penalties for off-side or scrum collapses, the Lions shunned shots at goal until Elton Jantjies slotted a 19th-minute penalty.
The match was a stalemate for the next 20 minutes before Reece showcased his power by sending impressive loose forward Kwagga Smith airborne to give the home side a 17-3 lead at halftime.
Bridge then blew the game open with two tries within the space of two minutes after the break to extend the lead to 31-3 before Reece ended the scoring with a smart chip and chase.
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