Crusaders start rapidly, run Stormers ragged

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Jan de Klerk of the Stormers (R) takes the ball from Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders during the Super Rugby match between New Zealand's Crusaders and South Africa's Stormers in Christchurch on March 3, 2018.

Jan de Klerk of the Stormers (R) takes the ball from Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders during the Super Rugby match between New Zealand's Crusaders and South Africa's Stormers in Christchurch on March 3, 2018.

CAPE TOWN – The Super Rugby champions Crusaders hammered the touring Stormers with a seven-try 45-28 win at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday, after running up a commanding 31-7 halftime lead.

Whatever chance the Stormers may have harboured of a victory disappeared in the Christchurch night air as the Crusaders set off like an express train and 20 minutes later they were well ahead of the clock with a runaway 26-0 lead.

During that frenzied spell, the Crusaders ran in four unanswered tries through George Bridge (6th min), Codie Taylor (10th), Billy Harmon (16th) and Bryn Hall (18th). Flyhalf Richie Mo&39;unga banged over three of the four conversion attempts for a 26-0 scoreline.

Just past the half-hour mark, the Stormers managed only their second threatening raid up to the Crusaders tryline and this time they came good with a try by prop JC van Rensburg. Fullback SP Marais was on target with the conversion (26-7).

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The Stormers suffered a further set-up on the stroke of halftime when Bridge ran in his second try after a penetrative counter-attack which came good after several instances of sloppy defence by the Capetonians. Mo&39;unga&39;s conversion failed and the Crusaders enjoyed a handy 31-7 halftime lead.

The Stormers returned for second-half action without their kingpin lock Pieter-Steph du Toit who picked up a late first-half injury. He was replaced by Jan de Klerk.

The Stormers needed only 11 minutes of second-half play to mount a matchwinning challenge with two converted tries which saw them reduce the deficit by 10 points.

Prop Wilco Louw was first to cross the whitewash in the 43rd minute and he was followed by lock JD Schickerling, eight minutes later. SP converted both tries (31-21).

Stormers Cobus Wiese sparked a penetrative break in the Crusaders half shortly afterwards but he lacked support when hauled down by the Crusaders&39; cover defence right under the posts.

A minute past the hour mark, Crusaders rightwing Seta Tamanivalu crossed for his side&39;s sixth try and with it went the hopes of the visiting Stormers mounting a rescue act, more so after Mo&39;unga followed suit a few minutes later. Mo&39;unga was on target with both conversions for a matchwinning 45-21 lead with 10 minutes&39; playing time left.

Substitute prop Steven Kitshoff barrelled his way through several tackles four minutes from the end and dabbed the ball against the base of the posts for the Stormers&39; bonus-point try, which was duly converted from in front by replacement fullback George Whitehead (45-28).

Scorers: Crusaders 45 (31): Tries: George Bridge (2), Codie Taylor, Billy Harmon, Bryn Hall, Seta Tamanivalu, Richie Mo&39;&39;unga. Conversions: Mo&39;&39;unga (5)

Stormers 28 (7): Tries: JC van Rensburg, Wilco Louw, JD Schickerling, Steven Kitshoff. Conversions: SP Marais (3), George Whitehead – African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Herman Gibbs