Crusaders snare seventh Super title
Canterbury win the Super 14 rugby competition with a comeback win over NSW.
Last Modified: 31 May 2008 13:07 GMT

Crusaders coach Robbie Deans, centre, goes out a winner, and will now take over at the Wallabies [AFP]

The Canterbury Crusaders continued their dominance of southern hemisphere provincial rugby by securing their seventh Super title with a come-from-behind 20-12 win over the New South Wales Waratahs in Christchurch.
The Crusaders were down 3-12 late in the first half, but scored 17 unanswered points, largely thanks to the boot of All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter, who kicked four penalties and a drop goal for a personal tally of 15 points.
The Waratahs put in a brave performance but faltered on the big stage, allowing the experienced Crusaders to dominate in front of their home crowd, sending coach Robbie Deans and former captain Reuben Thorne out on a winning note.

NSW scored two tries to Canterbury's one, but the Crusaders always looked likely to overhaul the visitors, with their swarming defence and relentless attack proving too much to handle for the visitors.

" ...tonight the hits that were going in were just outstanding."

Richie McCaw,
Crusaders captain
"Towards the end of the round robin [our defence] was letting us down," Richie McCaw, Crusaders captain, said.

"So last week [in the semi-final] we took a step up and tonight the hits that were going in were just outstanding."

The Crusaders got off to a good start and opened the scoring with a Carter penalty, however, the Waratahs struck back almost immediately when fly-half Kurtley Beale put in a pinpoint cross kick for winger Lachlan Turner, who leapt high above Carter to gather the ball and score in the corner.

Phil Waugh, NSW captain, then sparked an attacking raid with an intercept that ended with Turner chipping ahead and outsprinting Andrew Ellis to touch down for his second try.

Beale kicked the conversion to give the Waratahs a surprise 12-3 lead, silencing the parochial Canterbury crowd.

Never in doubt

Carter narrowed the gap to 12-6 with another penalty, then just before halftime the Crusaders launched a sweeping attack with Mose Tuiali'i crashing over in the corner to make it a one-point game at the break.

McCaw said the Crusaders never panicked despite being down at halftime.

"We felt like we were on top - we played a lot of the rugby," the flanker said.

"We knew that if we could keep our composure at the start of the second half the points would come, and we kept our composure and got what we needed."

Carter put the Crusaders in front five minutes after halftime with his third penalty to make it 14-12 and when front rower Wyatt Crockett crossed they looked to be taking control.

However, the assistant referee spotted some foul play from Canterbury lock Brad Thorn, with referee Mark Lawrence cancelling the try and sending Thorn from the field for 10 minutes.

The Waratahs failed to take advantage of the extra man and were made to pay when Carter slotted a drop goal to give the Crusaders a 17-12 lead.

Carter then extended the lead with his fourth penalty, sealing the match and another Crusaders title.

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