February 10 2007

Crusaders defend Jade Stadium Fortress.

Following the earliest start to the season in high summer the previous week, the second round of the 2007 Super 14 competition had four matches scheduled for Saturday 10 February, one of those was at Jade Stadium, Christchurch.  It was the first home match for the Crusaders of 2007 and the Crusaders were on a winning streak at Jade Stadium having won their last 19 matches in a row.  The opposition though were the Reds and they were in good early form.

By Bob Schumacher at Jade Stadium

‘Nearly three years have passed since the Crusaders last lost at their Jade Stadium Fortress, but that record was put into jeopardy when the Reds, 14-0 down after 28 minutes went ahead 19-14 in the 48th minute.

This was a real test of mettle for a relatively inexperienced Crusaders team without their stars.  Their response was admirable – three outstanding tries and 19 points in the last 32 minutes with the Reds restricted to just one penalty goal.

Scott Hamilton, who scored the bonus try for the Crusaders with eight minutes remaining, saved his biggest smile for the final try bagged by replacement left wing Brent Ward.

A pinpoint high crossfield kick by Stephen Brett was expertly caught by Hamilton whose quick transfer to ward allowed the Auckland draft player to outstrip the cover defence.

“Stephen has been a bit wayward with those kicks at training in the last few weeks.  He hadn’t been finding the spot but he did it in the game and that’s when it counts,” Hamilton says.

After being hit by two early converted tries, the Reds got back through their well-drilled forwards and accurate goalkicking, but they lacked penetration in the backs and the more creative Crusaders put them to the sword in the final quarter.’

The Crusaders winning streak at Jade Stadium finished after 24 games when they lost to the Chiefs 24-30 on the 4th of May 2007.

The Crusaders were third placed after the round robin and had to play away against the Bulls in Pretoria, South Africa, where they lost 27-12.  The Bulls won the final against the Sharks 20-19 to become the first South African side to win the Super Rugby Trophy.  Meanwhile the Reds finished last in the competition with just two wins.