Crusaders keep playoff hopes alive with big win

Ethan Blackadder was among the scorers for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images
Ethan Blackadder was among the scorers for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images
By Jonty Dine of RNZ

Having done their part, the Crusaders' play-off fate now lies in the hands of the Melbourne Rebels.

It was mission accomplished in Christchurch on Friday night for Rob Penney's men, dispatching Moana Pasifika 43-10 to keep their very slim hopes of a top eight spot alive.

Taking maximum points from the encounter, the Crusaders now need the Rebels to defeat the Drua in Fiji to sneak into the quarters.

The defending champions ran in seven tries in a ruthless display which conjured memories of past clinical Crusaders performances.

Historically a trademark weapon, the Crusaders had scored just once all season from a lineout drive, but reverted to their bread and butter with three rolling mauls getting over the line.

In his final home match, Crusaders prop Joe Moody said it meant a lot to get the win.

"It's pretty much been my whole adult life here at the Crusaders."

Moody said they knew they were in for a physical battle.

"Tonight we dominated that area," he told Sky Sport.

He said the next 24-hour period would be a nervous one.

"It's a pretty horrible feeling but at the same time it is what it is, so it pays not to dwell on it."

Skipper Codie Taylor concurred.

"It's the first tome going for an Australian team so that's a bit different, we knew what was needed and really proud of the boy's efforts, we have done everything we can."

It was a inauspicious start from the hosts, with Moody shown yellow for shoulder to head contact as William Havili put the first point on the board through the boot.

The Crusaders dominated possession early and after five ventures into the 22, finally got over as Ethan Blackadder rumbled over to score the first of three copybook rolling maul tries.

They did it again shortly after through Taylor, who now sits alone at the top of the Super Rugby try scoring charts for a forward.

The visitors struck back in style as the Inisi brothers combined for a Moana special.

A set move at lineout, Lotu Inisi slipped inside to Fine who stormed his way over to close the gap to four.

However, that was as good as it got for Moana. Fine Inisi went from hero to villain moments later as he was sent to the sideline for 10 for knocking the ball down with the Crusaders hot on attack.

They took immediate advantage as Taylor scored from another seemingly effortless surging drive.

A sharp short ball from Noah Hotham to the blindside put Ryan Crotty in the corner for a fourth to give his side a 26-10 half-time lead.

Hotham kicked things off in the second as he ran off the back of a ruck and kicked ahead, getting a favourable bounce as he leaped over Havili to score.

Dallas McLeod was in next as he sauntered through a yawning gap.

Macca Sringer put the icing on the cake on the back of another fortuitous bounce, Johnny McNicholl kicking ahead for his winger to streak away.

The win ensures a host of veterans including Moody, Crotty and Owen Franks are sent off in style and keeps them alive for another night at least.

But the Drua could drive the final nail in the coffin when they meet the Rebels at 2pm Saturday.


Crusaders 43 (Taylor 2, Blackadder, Crotty, Hotham, McLeod, Springer, tries, Burke 4 cons)

Moana 10 (Inisi, tries, Havili, cons, 1 pen)