The Crusaders dashed the Investec Stormers’ hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Super 12 this season by thumping them 51-23 at Newlands on Saturday.
The game was evenly poised at halftime, with tenacious tackling by both sides preventing any tries. The Stormers played with intent and purpose in the first half, but sadly faded in the second stanza.
In that second half the star-studded New Zealanders turned on the charm and scored seven tries, some of them breathtakingly spectacular.
The Stormers were disrupted by the late withdrawal of talisman flanker Schalk Burger and the absence of stalwarts such as Joe van Niekerk, Quinton Davids and Adri Badenhorst.
The ease with which the Crusaders scored their tries, should be a worry for the coaching staff of the home side. The first one came just two minutes after halftime, when Daniel Carter, who played a blinder, made the break inside Marius Joubert before sending wing Caleb Ralph away to the try-line.
The crowd of 40 000 had hardly had time to settle back into their seats when the Crusaders were on the scoreboard again, this time Rico Gear going over in the opposite corner after a cross-field sweep in which the ball was switched from hand to hand with lightning speed and efficiency.
Chris Rossouw, who had booted two first half penalties, added a third to halt the rout, and then Marius Joubert intercepted a Crusaders pass to run over beneath the uprights. This brought the crowd to its feet, and Joubert showed his delight when crossing the line.
But while that try cut the deficit to just two points the renaissance did not last for the Stormers and the Crusaders really picked up the pace after that as Aaron Mauger went over for a converted try which restored the lead to nine points.
Then came one of a couple of tries scored of dodgy Stormers fielding of kicks placed behind them. A kick fell into the hands of Gaffie du Toit who was running back towards his own try-line. He couldn’t hold onto the ball, it popped up and Leon MacDonald said “Thank you very much” as he gathered as if it had been passed to him and dotted down.
That makde it 30-16 and the Stormers were never going to recover from that. Thereafter it was a slew of errors from the well beaten Stormers and some great kicking, passing and running from the Crusaders, who had held an advantage in most aspects of the game up until then anyway, who hammered the final nails into the coffin.
The Stormers did grab back one try to Tonderai Chavhanga, but it was of the consolation variety only.
Crusaders – Tries: Rico Gear (2), Caleb Ralph (2), Leon MacDonald, Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter; Conversions: Daniel Carter (3), Andrew Mehrtens (2); Penalties: Daniel Carter 2.
Investec Stormers – Tries: Marius Joubert, Tonderai Chavhanga; Penalties: Chris Rossouw (3); Conversion: Chris Rossouw (2).