The Crusaders continued their perfect start to the Super season on Saturday, beating the Hurricanes 20-12 in Christchurch.
With this being a contest between the tabletopping Crusaders and the defending champions there was of course plenty of hype in the build-up to this fixture.
The opening half was a cagey affair, however, and three penalties apiece to Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett meant the teams were deadlocked at 9-9 at half-time.
The Crusaders’ forwards deserve plenty of credit as they laid the platform for this win especially during the second half and they eventually outscored their visitors by a try to none.
The win was the Crusaders’ 11th successive one of the season and consolidates their position at the top of the New Zealand Conference table. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are still third – eight points adrift – although they have played one game less than the seven-time champions.
The opening exchanges were evenly balanced and we had to wait until the 11th minute for the opening points when Mo’unga slotted a penalty after Brad Shields infringed at the breakdown.
Three minutes later, the Crusaders strayed offside on defence and Jordie Barrett opened the Hurricanes’ account from the kicking tee and he added his second penalty midway through the half after Jordan Taufua was blown up for illegal play at a ruck.
That lead did not last long, however, as Mo’unga levelled the score with his second penalty two minutes later and he put his side back in front after the Crusaders pack destroyed their counterparts at a scrum on the half-hour mark.
The home side were gradually taking control of proceedings and in the 34th minute they came close to scoring the opening try when Ryan Crotty caught the flat-lying Hurricanes defence by surprise with an inch perfect cross-field kick but Seta Tamanivalu failed to hang onto the ball while crossing the whitewash.