The Canterbury Crusaders played with 14 men for 49 minutes but beat South Africa’s Stormers 24-9 in a Super 12 rugby match Saturday.
All Blacks Daniel Carter and Caleb Ralph scored tries as the Crusaders scored 16 unanswered points in the second half after trailing 9-8 at halftime.
The Crusaders were reduced to 14 men in the 31st minute when No. 8 Mose Tuiali’i was sent from the field by Australian referee Andrew Cole for attempting to headbutt an opponent.
The four-time champions played with great spirit through the second half to overcome that numerical disadvantage and to strengthen their claim for a place in this season’s semifinals.
“We were down to 14 men for most of the match which meant that everyone had to front up and everyone really got down to it in the second half,” said Crusaders captain Reuben Thorne.
“We had no choice but to stand up and be counted and everyone did that which was really special.” Both teams remained among the top four teams in the Super 12 and retained semifinal chances after the defeat earlier Saturday of the challenging New South Wales Waratahs by the Otago Highlanders.
The lead changed hands four times in a close but scrappy first half before the Stormers turned with a one-point lead.
Chris Roussow gave the Cape Town-based franchise the lead with a seventh-minute penalty but Canterbury replied with a try to Ralph in the 16th minute. Carter engineered the try with a carefully-weighted kick through which Ralph gathered in the absence on any Stormers’ flank defense.
Roussouw’s second and third penalties, in an unblemished first-half kicking performance, helped the Stormers to a 9-8 halftime lead. Carter failed to convert Ralph’s try and managed only one penalty from three early attempts.
Carter’s own try, in the 17th minute of the second half, helped seal the match for the Crusaders. He broke from open play near the Stormers’ 22 and beat the tackles of Roussouw and De Wet Barry to score near the posts.
Carter’s penalties in the 60th and 64th minutes put the match beyond the reach of the Stormers, who bungled a try through Breyton Paulse in the game’s last moments.
Crusaders 24: Tries by Caleb Ralph (17 min), Daniel Carter (63 min). Daniel Carter kicked a conversion and four penalties.
Stormers 9: Chris Rossouw kicked three penalties.