Crusaders simply destroy the Force

The Crusaders plainly and simply thumped the Force by 53 points to nil in Christchurch on Saturday, striking fear into every other team in the Super 14.

The Force were nowhere, and the Crusaders outclassed them in every department to quite simply wipe the field clean with the visiting team.

53-0! The Force never looked like getting more than nil but the Crusaders often looked like getting more than 53. There was a chasm between the two teams on a cold, damp night in Christchurch.

The Crusaders were simply too mature, skilled, clever, strong, fast – too anything you would like to mention for the Force.

The drizzle abated, as did the energy of the Force’s start which soon fizzled out. They started with many lofted kicks while the Crusaders started with lots and lots of muscle. Muscle close to the ground beat the ball in the air hands down.

The Crusaders who have all that far-ranging skill produced the best quality mauling in the Super 14 this year. Their first try came from a maul. The Force collapsed it but the referee allowed advantage and there was big Mose Tuiali’i checking himself, stepping and breaking past Matt Hodgson. He gave to Leon MacDonald who popped a perfect pass to Rico Gear who scored far out.

The second try happened straight afterwards. Matt Giteau kicked the kick-off out on the full, which produced a scrum in the middle of the half-way line. From the scrum Tuiali’i broke on the right, beating Hodgson and Scott Fava. Checked he stood in the tackle and fed to his left. He was not finished for the move went down to the line well to the left of the Force’s posts as the Crusaders looked at them. In a series of pick-‘n-drives the Crusaders moved the ball to the right till Richie McCaw flicked a low pass at Tuiali’i who caught the ball at his knees and plunged over for the try under the posts. 12-0 after 14 minutes.

The Crusaders carried on outmuscling and when Giteau was penalised at a ruck, Cater made it 15-0.

Tuiali’i made the third try. There was a scrum close-ish to touch on the Crusaders’ left. The scrum wheeled on their loosehead and Tuiali’i came away wide with the ball. He passed inside to young flank Kieran Read who was on for Michael Paterson but playing flank while Reuben Thorne went to lock. The pass put Read in the clear. He bobbled the sympathetic pass but held it and enjoyed a clear run to the line. 22-0.

That was the half-time score.

The bonus-point try came two minutes into he second half with an a-typical Crusaders try. The Force kicked the ball out about 24 metres from their line and the Crusaders mauled. They marched the maul downfield as the Force forwards disintegrated and then suddenly there was Ross Filipo bursting free for the first of his hat-trick of tries.

The Force were good at winning turn-overs, which was a bit of a surprise and the best aspect of their game. They won one in their own territory and the Crusaders scored! The ball came to Digby Ioane on the right wing. He kicked and chased but Ralph got the ball and flung it infield to his left. The Crusaders went right where Read had a run on the wing. Then it went far left and back it came right where MacDonald broke, Mauger carried it on and Gear played inside to McCaw who scored in the right corner. That was a typical Crusaders’ try.

Filipo got the next try when the Crusaders attacked and he worked a switch with Daniel Carter. Tackled near the line he stretched out an arm and got the ball onto the goal-line for a try which the TMO confirmed. Carter converted. 41-0 with 11 minutes to play.

Shortly afterwards Filipo had a great gallop down the middle of the field and the Crusaders were running till MacDonald gave Read a comfortable pass on the right wing and the tall flank enjoyed a dawdle over and around towards the posts. 48-0.

Still it was not over as the Crusaders came back. They won a turn-over on the left and

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