Crusaders ruthlessly put down Rebels in Christchurch

Spurred on by an outstanding scrummaging performance, the Crusaders have handed the Rebels a 39-0 hiding to claim their second win of the season.

The game looked as good as over after the first couple of scrums at Apollo Projects Stadium in Christchurch, as the dominance forced an unprecedented move by the Rebels coaching staff to replace their entire front row after only half an hour.

By then, the Crusaders had already scored two tries that had come off the back of penalties from the scrum. Christian Lio-Willie crossed after some nice interplay between George Bower and Sevu Reece, then Cullen Grace was all alone out wide to dive on a perfectly weighted Heremaia Murray kick.

The Rebels’ only real chance came at the end of the first half when they were unlucky to have a solid looking lineout drive halted, before Josh Kemeny lost the ball diving over the line.

After the break Lio-Willie slid in for his second, after which the game did devolve into a series of untidy breakdowns. It took until the 63rd minute for the Crusaders to strike again, this time through a lineout drive that saw Owen Franks crash over.

Franks, who famously never scored a try in his 108 test matches, found his name on the scoresheet for the first time since 2010 in a Super Rugby match. To put that in perspective, the two starting first fives, Rivez Reihana and Carter Gordon, were both nine years old when that happened.

Sevu Reece and Johnny McNicholl tacked on more misery for the Rebels in the last 10 minutes, McNicholl’s effort on the end of a lovely Chay Fihaki run.

The big question now is will this be the start of a resurgence for the defending champions, who embarrassingly went into this game in last place. They face the Highlanders in Dunedin next weekend, which they should feel confident about given their fellow southerners’ struggles this season.

Crusaders 39 (Christian Lio-Willie 2, Cullen Grace, Owen Franks, Sevu Reece, Johnny McNicholl tries; Rivez Reihana 3 con, pen)

Rebels 0

HT: 10-0 Crusaders

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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