Exposed in defence and man-handled in the collisions, the Stormers started their New Zealand safari in the worst way possible when the Crusaders crushed them 57-24 in their Super Rugby clash in Christchurch on Saturday.
With the still-unbeaten Crusaders showing superior skill levels and running in five brilliant tries in the opening half to lead 36-3 at the break, the game had been lost already for the Capetonians.
To their credit, they fought back bravely to run in two tries early in the second half to reduce matters to 36-17 but the deficit proved simply too large.
With the Crusaders pack in full control the homeside created space out wide simply at will and eventually ran in eight tries to three to signal one of the Stormers poorest performances on Kiwi soil.
Who was the star in this match?
Crusaders flyhalf Richie Mo’unga was a key to the home side’s dominance in the first half with the way he read the play with at least two of his long overhead passes leading to tries for wing George Bridge and eighthman Kieran Read.
Mo’unga, who also kicked 17 points with seven conversions and a penalty, showed how the Kiwis are currently spoiled for choice when it comes to the flyhalf position.
Key moments of the match
- Stormers centre Dan du Plessis left the proceedings with a suspected fractured wrist in the 11th minute with his team leading 3-0 which left the Stormers’ defence in midfield looking vulnerable after his departure. Dan Kriel replaced him but didn’t quite have the same authority in defence.
- The ease with which Bridge scored his first try in the 13th minute gave the first indication that it’s going to be a long day for the Stormers. In the 29th and 22nd minutes he scored again with the Crusaders simply creating space at will.
- Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read only played the first 40 minutes during which he scored two tries in the space of four minutes before halftime. He once again showed why he is rated the best No 8 in world rugby.
- The Stormers showed big heart to run in three tries of their own in the second half, but having being exposed in the collisions, the Capetonians always played catch-up on the scoreboard.
Crusaders – Tries: George Bridge (3), Kieran Read (2), Michael Aalalatoa, Peter Samu, Manasa Mataele. Conersions: Richie Mo’unga (7). Penalty: Mo’unga.
Stormers – Tries: Cheslin Kolbe, Bjorn Basson, Frans Malherbe. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalty: Du Preez.