Super Rugby: Brumbies pay the penalty as Crusaders claim 40-20 win
Colin Slade kicked 23 points to help the Crusaders cruise to a 40-20 win over the Brumbies in Christchurch on Saturday.
Last Updated: 03/05/14 11:37am
This was another feather in the cap for Todd Blackadder's side, who have now won four in a row after losing three of their opening five matches.
First-half physicality was key to the Crusaders building up their 22-6 lead and from there Brumbies were always playing catch-up.
Five Slade penalties had given the hosts a useful advantage and that was added to on the stroke of half-time when Johnny McNicholl finished well for the opening try.
Further tries from Nemani Nadolo and Luke Whitlock added gloss to the scoreline, with Brumbies, who hit back with tries from Stephen Moore and Pat McCabe, coming up well short.
Penalties were frequent in the opening half, with even Richie McCaw being picked up for a ruck offence by referee Glen Jackson. McCaw turned in an eyecatching performance by making the most tackles for his side and playing a full 80.
Slade's kicking off the tee was perfect in the first 40 minutes as his side led 15-6 a couple of minutes before the interval, when McNicholl struck.
Patient build-up around the Brumbies' 22 ended with a pass from Sam Whitelock out wide to McNicholl, who jinked his way inside and drove over low for the try.
The Brumbies just had to respond and they looked like a different team in the beginning of the second half with Moore's try - the Wallaby hooker stepping his way over from close range after his team upped the ante.
It was a handy reminder for the Crusaders that the job wasn't done. Slade added his sixth penalty following a collapsed scrum on the edge of the 22.
A stroke of luck helped their cause. The Brumbies were pressed back inside their half and when forced to kick, through Toomua, there was a classic Superman dive from Sam Whitelock to charge down the ball, Nadolo scooping up and running home to score.
The Brumbies penalty count was killing their chances, reaching ten by the 58-minute mark, but Slade spared them further punishment with a missed penalty.
He didn't have to wait long for another chance as Sam Carter went offside; Slade landing his seventh of the night.
Facing a 20-point deficit the Brumbies then lost Luke Romano to the sin bin within minutes of coming on and Luke Whitlock punished them in the corner.
McCabe picked up a consolation score by cutting back through a gaping hole next to Nepo Laulala to add a bit more respectability to the scoreboard, but the contest was long over. This marked another milestone on the Crusaders' road to not just recovery, but also the playoffs.