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Rebels no match for rampant Crusaders

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Lynn McConnell     27 May 2017     Getty Images

Always in control, the Crusaders did have to cope with a revival of Rebels spirit in the second half. But they absorbed that and came back to score six tries to three.
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Returning to the side from injury All Black Israel Dagg had few chances but was quick to do set-up work when the ball moved his way on the wing.

Making early dents in the home defence, courtesy of hard-running by flanker Pete Samu, who was unfortunate in suffering a first quarter ankle injury, centre Seta Tamanivalu, and fullback David Havili, an ever-present danger whenever the Rebels kicked ahead, the Crusaders settled quickly to their task.

It was wing Manasa Mataele who opened the scoring in the 16th minute making use of good work by lock Sam Whitelock on the midfield burst. Whitelock was a constant on attack throughout the first half, laying on a perfect pass for Samu's replacement, Ged Brown's second try scored in the 35th minute.

Earlier, Brown was the recipient in a Crusaders lineout drive to score his first Super Rugby try. The opportunity came after home second five-eighths Reece Hodge had been sin-binned for a deliberate knock-down.

The Crusaders scored not only from that penalty but five minutes later, in the 30th minute, they ran the ball from their own 22m area with Tamanivalu making the intial break. Then, at the other end of the field he was on hand to score the try resulting after the Crusaders controlled play from a lineout.



There was a break in the Crusaders scoring rhythm when Rebels wing Marika Koriobete took a lovely reverse pass from flanker Colby Fainga'a off a lineout move to score the first try for the Rebels.

They made it two in a row when starting the second half with determination and it was prop Toby Smith, the former Chiefs player, who stretched out a long arm to score.

But it proved a momentary hiccup as the Crusaders worked the ball down the left flank with Mataele going close before the ball was moved right where flanker Heiden Bedwell-Curtis set up a ruck which provided another chance on the left flanker where Havili finally had reward for all his running.

Throughout the game the play of Rebels No.8 Amanaki Mafi was outstanding. He was a constant threat with his powerful running, exemplified by a blindside break off a scrum midway through the second half. And he followed that up moments later in the 57th minute when a turnover resulting from Mataele not looking where he passed.

It was taken by wing Sefa Naivalu and the ball was promoted through a double round by Hodge. Outside him was Mafi and he put his speed to stunning use on a 50m run before passing on to Koriobete to score his second of the night.

But Mafi was on the receiving end of a strong fend by his opposite Jordan Taufua which was capitalised when replacement halfback Mitch Drummond was inside to score.

Flanker Sean McMahon's return was a boost for the side but it ended unfortunately for him when leaving the field with eight minutes to go with a serious arm injury.

Scorers: Rebels 19 (Marika Koriobete 2, Toby Smith tries; Ben Volavola con; Reece Hodge con) Crusaders 41 (Manasa Mataele, Ged Brown 2, Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Mitchell Drummond tries Richie Mo'unga 4 con, pen ). HT: 7-31