even though im a queenslander i feel sorry for the waritahs
The Crusaders have become the first side in Super 12 history to win all 11 preliminary games after an embarrassing 14-try, 96-19 win against a pathetic Waratahs in Christchurch.
The previous largest Super 12 winning margin was 64 points, set by the Brumbies against the Bulls in 1999, and the Crusaders almost eclipsed that in just the first half, running in nine converted tries for a 63-0 half-time lead.
The Blues went through the 1997 season undefeated, but with one draw. But the Blues of 1997 probably never had it as easy as the Crusaders in this game and they certainly would have never had it so easy against supposedly the second best side of the competition.
If this was the top-of-the-table clash, then the Crusaders are a shoe-in for the title after the Waratahs provided perhaps the lamest display of rugby seen for a long, long, long time.
Not surprisingly, records were smashed … the score was the biggest in Super 12 history; the 14 tries were the most scored; as was winger Caleb Ralph's individual effort with four; and Andrew Mehrtens’ almost perfect display with 13 conversions was also a record. He kicked 13 straight before the 14th from the sideline hit the right-hand upright.
Waratahs coach Bob Dwyer made several changes to the side during the week in a bid to rest some of his players but the move backfired horribly. He now faces a massive task to get his side over this massive psychological setback. Injuries to Mat Rogers, Chris Whitaker and Duncan McRae won't help his cause.
Waratahs flyhalf Manuel Edmonds made a break in the opening minute and they blew a try midway through the first-half, but that was it in a desperately sad performance before half-time.
The Crusaders had scored four tries and led 28-0 after only 17 minutes and added another five more before the half-time whistle was blown to hold an unbelievable 63-0 lead at the break. Matters weren’t helped for the Waratahs with Mehrtens knocking them over from all angles.
The Crusaders pack destroyed the Waratahs in the scrum and their classy backs had a field day playing sevens rugby against the non-existent Waratahs defence. It’s difficult to name a standout player for the Crusaders when the opposition was so bad.
The rout was finally stopped when Waratahs winger Francis Cullimore crossed for the first try in the 44th minute. But again there wasn’t much more joy for the Waratahs with the Crusaders juggernaut cranking up again with three quick tries extending the lead to 84-5 with 25 minutes remaining.
Things did improve marginallyfor the Waratahs with winger Marc Stcherbina and flanker Des Tuiavii scoring tries. But few noticed the Waratahs lost the second-half by only 33-19 as the focus fell on the Crusaders’ bid for the century.
Fullback Leon MacDonald took the lead to 96-19 with the Crusaders’ 14th try in the 72nd minute, but in the end the clock beat them.
Tries: Marika Vunibaka 2, Greg Feek, Justin Marshall, Caleb Ralph 4, Scott Robertson 2, Aaron Mauger, Leon McDonald 2, Daryl Gibson tries.
Conversions: Andrew Mehrtens 13.
Tries: Francis Cullimore, Marc Stcherbina, Des Tuiavii.
Conversions: Matthew Burke 2.