Crusaders hold off Waratahs

Getty Images     30 Apr 2012     Getty Images

The home side trailed by a point at the interval but hit the front in the 46th minute when Wycliff Palu crashed over from close range.

That stung the Crusaders into action, with Adam Whitelock and Fruean both scoring five-pointers to secure the four-try bonus point and open up an 11-point buffer on the hour.

With their finals hopes already hanging by a thread, the Waratahs hit back with a late try to Sarel Pretorius to close within four points with six minutes on the clock.

Michael Foley's men had their chances to steal victory in the dying minutes but the visitors held firm to post their 10th consecutive victory over the Waratahs in front of 30,663 fans.

Tom Taylor had a good night with the boot for the Crusaders, slotting three penalties and four conversions from eight attempts, while Brendan McKibbin kicked a perfect six-from-six including four penalties and two conversions for the hosts.

The Crusaders had the better of the early play but the Waratahs struck first when Atieli Pakalani completed a brilliant sweeping movement.

It all started when Dave Dennis stole the Crusaders' lineout throw and stormed down the field.

From the ensuing phase, Berrick Barnes delivered a bullet pass for a flying Adam Ashley-Cooper who drifted on the outside of Fruean and timed his final pass perfectly to send Pakalani in for the opening try.

McKibbin slotted the extras from the sideline for a 7-0 lead in the 13th minute.

The Crusaders hit back four minutes later when Fruean exploded through a hole in the Waratahs midfield and sprinted 40m to score under the posts and level things up at seven apiece.

McKibbin reclaimed the advantage with a penalty goal from point-blank range on 30 minutes.

But the lead did not last long, Zac Guilford scoring the visitors' second try after another barnstorming 40m run from Fruean in the 34th minute.

A beautiful flat pass from Israel Dagg allowed Fruean to get on the outside of Tom Carter before flicking the ball inside for Guilford to crash over.

Taylor's conversion made it 14-10 the Crusaders' way before McKibbin slotted a penalty goal after the siren to cut the deficit to a solitary point at the break.

Taylor increased the lead with a 40m penalty goal two minutes in but the Waratahs answered moments later through Palu to hit the front.

But Palu's try only served to stir the seven-time Super Rugby champs into action, securing the bonus point in the 56th minute when Fruean grabbed his second try.

To make matters worse for the home side, Todd Blackadder immediately inserted Richie McCaw into the action for the first time this season following foot surgery.

McCaw aided the hosts' cause in the 66th minute when he was penalised for a ruck infringement that led to McKibbin's fourth penalty goal of the afternoon.

Taylor answered with his third penalty goal before Pretorius made things interesting with a late converted try.

Waratahs 33 (Atieli Pakalani, Wycliff Palu, Sarel Pretorius; Brendan McKibbin 2 con, 4 pen; Berrick Barnes con) Crusaders 37 >(Robbie Frueaan 2, Zac Guildford, Adam Whitelock tries; Tom Taylor 4 con, 3 pen). HT: 13-14

Crowd: 30,663