Crusaders too good for Hurricanes

Codie Taylor and Richie Mo'unga celebrate during their dominant win over the Hurricanes in...
Codie Taylor and Richie Mo'unga celebrate during their dominant win over the Hurricanes in Christchurch. Photo: Getty Images
The Hurricanes lost the art of surprise after being the only team to defeat the Crusaders last season. On this balmy Sunday afternoon in Christchurch, the Crusaders were never going to be ambushed again.

Revenge was swift and sweet.

This time Hurricanes never got close. The contest was effectively over by halftime with four first-half tries – three of those scored with Ardie Savea in the sin bin - handing the Crusaders an unassailable 20-point lead.

All Backs hooker Codie Taylor, as he did last week, was at the heart of the Crusaders' dominant efforts. After battling to put away the Highlanders in Dunedin last week, with ill-discipline a major issue, this victory was achieved without the Crusaders leaving third gear.

Two matches into the season and Scott Robertson's men are already in ominous form, though their discipline remains a problem after a 14-6 penalty count went against them.

While the Crusaders were supreme at the set piece, on defence and with their patient attacking raids, this was a disappointing display from the Hurricanes.

Successive defeats to the Blues and Crusaders, admittedly the two best teams in the competition, and a bye next week suggests a long campaign could be in store for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes forward pack, specifically their tight five, remains concerning. Their lineout battled and gifted Taylor his second try after a Ricky Riccitelli overthrow.

Without the desired platform rookie halfbacks Jonathan Taumateine and Luke Campbell are struggling, which then flows onto the backline.

The Hurricanes' only fit first five-eighth, Jackson Garden-Bachop, departed injured at halftime which forced Jordie Barrett from fullback to No 10.

Even before Barrett shifted into first-receiver, though, the Hurricanes backline often looked in his direction, hoping he would somehow single-handedly spark piece of magic from behind the advantage line.

That the Hurricanes' first try came through Riccitelli after 56 minutes speaks to their attacking challenges, despite boasting firepower throughout their ranks.
Robertson will, conversely, be well pleased, knowing the levels his stacked team are yet to reach.

Robertson had the luxury of replacing Richie Mo'unga after 57 minutes and starting Will Jordan on the bench. With the Chiefs, yet to register a win for over a year after their loss to the Highlanders in Hamilton this weekend, next in Christchurch, few would back against the Crusaders juggernaut rolling on next Saturday night in Christchurch.

The physical toll of this competition was again prevalent with Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua suffering what appeared to be a serious arm injury and Crusaders flanker Ethan Blackadder departing following a nasty head clash.

The Hurricanes started brightly, with Barrett landing two penalties and Savea making one dynamic surge from five metres out to well into the Crusaders half, but the visitors were soon backpedalling chasing the game.

One missed Aumua lineout and a Crusaders rolling maul was all it took to flick the switch. With the Crusaders bearing down on the Hurricanes line Savea opted to collapse the drive which brought a yellow card from referee Ben O'Keeffe.

With Savea binned for 10 minutes, the Crusaders proceeded to score three tries and pile on 21 points to leave the Hurricanes stunned.

Taylor continued his outrageous early-season form. After showing his pace last week in the Crusaders victory over the Highlanders, this time Taylor scored following a sharp quick tap while the Hurricanes waited for another scrum to be set.

Stationed in the midfield Taylor then spotted space to break through and link with Mitchell Drummond who found Mo'unga flying to the line.

Blackadder's third strike ensured the Crusaders made the most of their one-man advantage to near kill off the game.

The Hurricanes fought back in the second spell, but the three tries conceded during Savea's absence ultimately proved costly.

Crusaders 33 (Codie Taylor 2, Richie Mo'unga, Scott Barrett, Ethan Blackadder tries; Mo'unga 4 cons)

Hurricanes 16 (Ricky Riccitelli, Peter Umaga-Jensen tries; Jordie Barrett 2 pens)

HT: 26-6

 

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