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Crusaders overpower valiant Stormers

Getty Images     03 Mar 2018     Getty Images

The defending champions had won their last six encounters against the Stormers and a seventh straight win looked to be a formality when they leapt to a 26-0 lead after just 18 minutes.

But just like the Chiefs clash a week earlier, the Crusaders were given a scare before flexing their muscle in the final quarter to secure a comfortable win. 


It was a rousing opening 20 minutes from the Crusaders who out-gunned the Stormers in every facet of play. The visitors struggled to keep up with the Crusaders slick attack which often had players running out of position to confound the opposition defenders.

Impressive wing George Bridge scored a hat-trick the last time the two teams met and took just six minutes to dot down when he found himself unmarked out wide from a Jack Goodhue pass.

Bridge’s try kick-started a rampant 12-minute period where Codie Taylor, Billy Harmon and Bryn Hall all crossed the chalk to make it 26-0.

The passionate home-crowd at AMI Stadium sensed a blowout but the Stormers showed their quality by rallying well as the half drew on.

More known for their exciting outside backs, it was the Stormers big forward pack who took control as hard running loose forwards Siya Kolisi and Cobus Wiese opened some gaps in the Crusaders defence before prop JC Janse van Rensburg crashed over in the 32 minute to make it 26-7.

The end of the half belonged to the Crusaders as they went 80 metres to score their fifth try with George Bridge grabbing a double.

Bridge’s second try could have easily broken the spirit of the Stormers, but it did exactly the opposite as they came storming out of the blocks in the second half.

The Stormers continued to find gaps around the fringes of the ruck as prop Wilco Louw and lock JD Schickerling both barged over for tries to close the gap to 31-21.

With 20 minutes remaining on the clock, the Crusaders squashed any chance of a Stormers comeback with two brilliantly worked tries. Richie Mo’unga was heavily involved in both. After setting up Tamanivalu for a nice finish, the crafty pivot jinked through the Stormers defence to grab a try himself.

Replacement Stormers prop Steven Kitshoff had the final say by barging over for his side’s fourth try to make it 45-28 at the final hooter.

Although the Crusaders will be satisfied to pick up maximum points, they will be working hard to tighten up their defence ahead of a massive derby against the Hurricanes next weekend.

Crusaders 45 (George Bridge 2, Codie Taylor, Bryn Hall, Billy Harmon, Seta Tamanivalu tries, Richie Mo’unga try, 5 con) Stormers 28 (JC Janse van Rensburg, Wilco Louw, JD Schickerling, Steven Kitshoff tries, SP Marais 4 con)
HT: 31-7