The Queensland Reds slumped to a heavy 58-17 loss to the Crusaders in an Asteron Life Super Rugby clash in Christchurch on Saturday night.
The Reds crossed twice through Samu Kerevi and Chris Feauai-Sautia while for the Crusaders their seven tries were scored by Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Sam Whitelock, Matt Todd, Dominic Bird, Jone Macilai-Tori and a double to Nemani Nadolo.
Despite the final score line the match actually hung in the balance early in the second half with the Reds trailing just 15-10 and the Crusaders down to 14 men with Bird in the sin-bin, but a long range intercept try to Nadolo turned the game the Crusaders way.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said he was incredibly disappointed with his side’s second half performance.
“What a disappointment. Without a doubt that is one of the most disappointing performances I have been involved. Everything we did in the second half was loose, lateral and without conviction,” he said.
“The Crusaders are the leading team in Super Rugby at capitalising on turnover possession and tonight we gave them too much opportunity.
“We worked incredibly hard in the first half and to be down by only five points gave us some confidence heading into the second. Our performance however never reflected our intent and as a consequence we were given a lesson.
“We have a lot of work to do before we play the Rebels at home next Friday night.”
It was a chilly 11 degrees at kick off on a dry night in Christchurch.
The Crusaders enjoyed a strong opening, putting together multiple phases before scrumhalf Andy Ellis went over in just the second minute. Colin Slade’s conversion made it 7-0.
The Reds absorbed the early set back and hit back with some enterprising attack of their own, sparked by some turnovers by Adam Thomson.
A well taken penalty by James O’Connor from 40 metres out made it 7-3 on five minutes, before Slade scored a runaway try to take the score out to 12-3.
The Reds then launched a promising attack on 24 minutes. Receiving a penalty out wide on the Crusaders 22 they gave up the chance at penalty goal to set up a line out close to the line. But despite repeated drives the attack came up pointless.
A penalty goal to Slade made it 15-3 before the Reds had another chance on 34 minutes when Bird was yellow carded for an infringement close to his own line. They set up another lineout and this time they looked ready to drive over but Greg Holmes was pulled down at the back of the maul, inches short.
But the Reds finally got the reward from another lineout close to the Crusaders line minutes later. This time the ball was spun wide and in form centre Samu Kerevi forced his way over. O’Connor’s conversion brought it back to 15-10 at half time.
The Reds started the second half brightly again with O’Connor taking the ball wide but, in the moment that turned the match, Nadolo intercepted on the half way line and raced away to score in the left corner.
Slade’s conversion and an earlier penalty goal took the lead out to 15 points before Nadolo scored a second and lock Sam Whitelock raced 60 metres for another. Both tries were converted by the accurate Slade to make it 39-10.
The Crusaders added further tries to Todd, Macilai-Tori and Bird before Feauai-Sautia fought his way over in the final minutes for a consolation try, converted by O’Connor.
The Reds now return to Brisbane where they will take on the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium in a big local derby for Ladies Round on Friday 15 May.
ASTERON LIFE SUPER RUGBY
QUEENSLAND REDS 17 (Samu Kerevi and Chris Feauai-Sautia tries; James O’Connor 2 conversions, penalty goal) lost to CRUSADERS 58 (Nemani Nadolo 2, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Sam Whitelock, Matt Todd, Jone Macilai-Tori, Dominic Bird tries; Colin Slade 6 conversions, 2 penalties) at Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch. (HALF TIME: Reds 10 Crusaders 15) (Referee: Mike Fraser [NZL])