Last minute Crusader try stuns Force at home

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

The Crusaders have held on to record their fifth win in a row for the first time since 2014 after defeating the Western Force 20-19. 


The New Zealand side came out firing early with Fijian-flyer Nemani Nadolo showing his dominance early to set up Mitchell Drummond with the opening try of the match inside the opening five minutes. 


It was the boot of Force flyhalf Peter Grant who kept his side in the game, nailing two penalties in the opening half, but it was their defensive woes hurting the home side, missing 12 tackles in the first half compared to the Crusaders 100% efficiency. 


The game continued to open up for the Crusaders as they showed off their attacking prowess with fancy footwork from hooker Cody Taylor helping him slip past two tackles and set up Johnny McNicholl for his fifth try in six matches. 

Crusaders steal it in the last minuteDespite lacking chances the Force were able to stay in the match and show some fight, down by only five points at the break despite having only having 30% of the possession. 


The Force have struggled to put together an 80 minute performance in recent weeks and were eager to show they still had fuel in the tank after returning home from a three week tour of New Zealand. 


Grant continued where he left off to slot two more penalties after some sloppy errors from the Crusaders but it was the determination of the Force that shone through when Solomoni Rasolea found some space, leading to their first try of the match through replacement halfback Ryan Louwrens to give the Force their first lead of the match with 20 minutes remaining. 


Holding a six point lead the Force put in a huge defensive effort, led by skipper Matt Hodgson and Ben Tapuai who topped the tackle count with 13-a-piece, while Hodgson managed to win three turnovers as well. 


It seemed as if the experienced Crusaders outfit would be unable to make the most of their chances as their silky skills slipped away, making 14 handling errors in an uncharacteristic display from the Kiwi side. 


However, with just two minutes remaining, Jordan Taufua steamed rolled through the Force defence to score the match winning try next to the posts. 


The Force will now enjoy a well-earned bye after a hectic opening eight rounds before returning to nib Stadium to take on the Waratahs on April 23.