The Crusaders recorded their highest ever score over the Stormers, winning 57-24 in Christchurch on Saturday.
The Stormers dominated possession and territory in the opening ten minutes but thereafter it was one-way traffic as the Crusaders ran riot, so much so that they were able to take captain Kieran Read off at half-time with a 36-3 lead after the All Blacks captain grabbed a double.
By the time the game was finished, it was a comprehensive 57-24 victory for the home side, who ran in eight tries including a hat-trick for George Bridge.
The Crusaders have now won 14 of the last 16 meetings between these two sides and the last six in a row. In fact, the Christchurch-based side have now won 38 of their last 39 home games against all South African opposition, with the Sharks the only team to beat them at AMI Stadium back in May 2014.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Stormers on their New Zealand tour as they face another in-form New Zealand outfit in the form of the Highlanders next weekend. Meanwhile, the Crusaders maintain their 100 percent winning streak to the season.
The first ten minutes saw the Stormers applying pressure on the Crusaders and enjoying dominance of both the territory and possession. In fact, the home side barely touched the ball. Fly-half Robert Du Preez gave them something to show for this dominant opening by slotting a penalty between the posts, giving the away side a 3-0 lead.
However, the Crusaders showed how clinical they are, finishing off the first opoortunity they had. Bridge scored in the 12th minute after the Saders took the ball through the phases. The Stormers will count themselves unlucky as they appeared to have got their hands and the ball but the referee’s whistle never came. Richie Mo’unga added the extras to make the score 7-3.
Mo’unga then added three from a penalty after relentless pressure around the Stormers 22 resulted in a penalty to make the score 10-3.
A big factor in the home side’s superiority on the scoreboard was their dominance of the lineout and the scrum, despite the Stormers boasting a heavier pack.
However, their scrum improved as they won two on the trot, relieving the pressure as they could finally get out of their half with a penalty kicked out to touch. The first half was a cagey one, with a lot of penalties being given away by both sides.
A careless acidental offside in which Cheslin Kolbe ran into the back of Chris Van Zyl resulted in a penalty for the Crusaders.
The hosts put the ball into touch for a lineout five metres out from the try-line and applied the basics well from the set-piece going right before coming back to the blindside as Richie Mo’unga showed his class, beating one defender before passing to George Bridge who ran unopposed under the posts to complete his double.
The Crusaders won far too many turnovers on Stormers ball for the away side to have any hope of getting something from the game, and the visitors looked shell-shocked as Bridge then completed his hat-trick two minutes later.
They exposed the Stormers’ lack of numbers out wide with an audacious offload from Seta Tamanivalu and then Jack Goodhue’s skilful double-skip pass gave Bridge the easiest of jobs to dot down. Mo’unga added a sublime conversion from the touchline to make the score 24-3.
The Crusaders then really began to turn on the style. A thrilling move which consisted of a couple of unbelievable offloads with a move going from left to right and back to the left, Kieran Read capped off an impressive first-half performance in only his second game back from a lengthy layoff with a classy try to make it 29-3.
There was still time for another ‘Saders score before the half-time whistle, as Read grabbed his second. Relentless attack from The Crusaders ended in a long ball from Mo’unga to Read who found himself on the other wing this time to dot down. This time, Mo’unga made no mistake with the conversion as the sides went into the break with the Crusaders in a commanding 36-3 lead.
The Stormers responded immediately after the interval when winger Cheslin Kolbe made a trademark interception, running the length of the field to dot down. Du Preez added the extras to make it 36-10.
Bjorn Basson, who barely touched the ball the whole game, then got the Stormers’ second. Eben Etzebeth threw a loose pass which Basson did well to collect, and while here was little on he handed off a defender and darted over in the corner in the 52nd minute.
The Crusaders then executed a perfect rolling maul from a five metre lineout and substitute prop Michael Alaalatoa got over in the 59th minute. Mo’unga’s accurate kicking display continued as he converted to make it 43-17.
Stormers full-back Dillon Lleyds makes a break down field but a loose pass results in a Pete Samu interception who ran coast to coast to dot down under the post to pile further misery on the away side. Mo’unga added the extras to bring up the half-century and make it 50-17 to the home side.
The Stormers refused to give up. After elusive stepping by Kolbe, Frans Malherbe did well to barrel over in the 67th minute showing good awareness by making contact with the base of the post.
But Manasa Mataele put the icing on the cake when he intercepted with the Stormers on the Crusaders’ ten-metre line before running the length of the field to score in the 77th minute.
Result: Crusaders 57 v 24 Stormers – 22/04/2017
Crusaders – 57
Tries: George Bridge (13,28,33), Kieran Read (37,40),Michael Alaalatoa (59) ,Pete Samu (61), Manasa Mataele (77)
Penalties: Richie Mo’unga (19)
Cons: Richie Mo’unga (14,29,34,40,60,62) , Mitchell Hunt (78)
Stormers – 24
Tries: Cheslin Kolbe (41), Bjorn Basson (52),Oli Kebble (66)
Penalties: Robert du Preez (9)
Cons: Robert du Preez (42,67)
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Dan Kriel
Date: Saturday, April 22
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)