Crusaders celebrate in style over Reds

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Lynn McConnell     08 May 2015     Getty Images

Eight tries were scored by the home team with first five-eighths Colin Slade scoring 23 points from a try, six conversions and two penalty goals.

Whitelock's speed off the mark, and his eye for open spaces created the chance which he supplemented with a sidestep to create the final impetus for his charge at the line which will live in the folklore of the great tries scored by locks.

It was symptomatic of a Crusaders breakout night which saw tries run in from long distance in the manner so long associated with the side in its great years.

The Reds scored a try on half-time to close the margin to 15-10 to the home team, but that was to be as close as they got on a night which will not be remembered for the quality of the Reds defence – it was poor.

It took only a minute for the Crusaders to signal their intention to celebrate the last home game of their veterans flanker Richie McCaw and second five-eighths Dan Carter, and the younger players fullback Tom Taylor and first five-eighths Colin Slade.

Slade had an electrifying night on the run and there were encouraging signs with Carter playing a key role in the lead-up to several tries.

After gaps were created for prop Wyatt Crocket and Slade, the link with flanker Matt Todd and left-wing strongman Nemani Nadolo, another who relished the free-flowing game, who stood strong in the tackle and threw an in pass which halfback Andy Ellis gratefully accepted to score.

A typical Crusaders break of old when Carter took the ball up to the defensive line and then unloaded to Slade whose speed carried him away from the opposition defenders and away on a run to the line.

The Reds took to the 39th minute, through a succession of lineout mauls that had been contained by the home defence, albeit with lock Dominic Bird being sin-binned after 34 minutes for an offence, before the ball was released for centre Samu Kerevi to corkscrew his way out of tackles to score.

Bird marked his return to play with his first try in Super Rugby, driving powerfully when standing off from ruck.

The Reds looked to mount an early assault from the start of the second half but an O'Connor pass was intercepted by Nadolo and there was never any doubt he would score 50m downfield. When he left the field his replacement Jone Macilai-Tori was also in the scoring action to mark his return from injury.

The Reds scored the last try of the game after some continuity play produced the chance wide out for wing Chris Feauai-Sautia.

But the glory was all there for the Crusaders to celebrate their departing players with the only remaining home game to be played in Nelson. The win also breathed life back into the side's play-off hopes.

Scorers: Crusaders 58 (Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Nemani Nadolo 2, Sam Whitelock, Matt Todd, Jone Macilai-Troi, Dominic Bird tries; Slade 6 con, 2 pen) Reds 17 (Samu Kerevi, Chris Feauai-Sautia tries; James O'Connor 2 con, pen ). HT: 15-10