Crusaders too classy for Force

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A valiant Force outfit have fallen 45-17 to a clinical Crusaders side in Christchurch, as the gulf in class between the Australian and New Zealand Conference continues to widen.

The Force have now slipped to a 1-3 record as a result of the loss, in which the Crusaders consistently made them pay for a lack of defensive line speed.

Alex Newsome was a shining light for the Force in his first start.

He put the Crusaders' defensive line under pressure with every touch but his efforts were not enough, as the home side cruised to victory.

The Crusaders only led 28-17 at the half-time break but the first 40 minutes could only be described as one way traffic.

A 16 phase movement to open the match was quickly turned into points for the home side, Digby Ioane crashing over in the third minute.Digby Ioane is back at his best for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty ImagesThey had their second try 13 minutes later, as repeated defensive efforts by the Force on their own line ended up being in vain - Matt Todd grounding the ball against the goal post.

Force wing Alex Newsome provided a much-needed spark on the left wing for the visitors when he picked off a Todd pass to run 60 metres and dive over under the posts but the Crusaders immediately wrestled back ascendency.

They refused to take shots at goal when the Force were penalised in their own half, opting to look for tries off the back of their powerful rolling maul instead.

The clock had just ticked past the 21 minute mark when Scott Barrett was the beneficiary of the said maul, wriggling his way over as the Force were sent scrambling.Chance Peni's try was not enough for the Force. Photo: Getty ImagesLuke Romano scored a bizarre try six minutes later.

Referee Rohan Hoffman awarded the try despite Jermaine Ainsley appearing to have grounded the ball after Chance Peni placed it at the back of the ruck.

Chance Peni showed why his teammates call him "Money" as the half-time siren sounded, though, scoring off a crisp Jono Lance inside ball to keep the visitors in the contest.

But a dour second half scrum-fest was again in the Crusaders' favour despite three consecutive scrum penalties forcing Hoffman to send reserve prop Tim Perry to the sin bin.

Tries to Codie Taylor off another rolling maul in the 50th, David Havili in the 72nd and Ben Funnell after the siren were exclamation marks on a result that was never in doubt.

RESULT

Crusaders 45

Tries: Ioane, Todd, Barrett, Romano, Taylor, Havili, Funnell

Cons: Hunt 4, McKenzie

Pens:

Force 17

Tries: Newsome, Peni

Cons: Lance 2

Pens: Lance

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