Waugh: Crusaders deserved win

2008-05-31 14:35
Christchurch - The Crusaders added to their legacy as the most successful side in Super rugby history when they beat the Waratahs 20-12 here on Saturday for a record seventh title.

It was a fairytale finish for the Crusaders as they bid farewell to popular coach Robbie Deans, who took them to five Super rugby crowns, and long-serving loose forward Rueben Thorne, who played in all seven title matches.

Although they were outscored two tries to one, and trailed 12-11 at half-time, the Crusaders dominated for most of the match.

Both sides produced monumental defensive efforts and the match was eventually decided by the boot of influential Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter who landed four penalties and a drop goal.

In a rugged battle for the loose ball, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw enjoyed a slight edge over his Australian opposite Phil Waugh as the turnovers favoured the Crusaders.

Waratahs loose forward Wycliff Palu, double try scoring wing Lachie Turner and Lote Tuqiri were constant threats for the Waratahs but they had few opportunities.

For McCaw, it was the Crusaders' defence that was the key to their victory.

"The hits that were going in were just outstanding," he said, adding that his side stepped up a notch when lock Brad Thorn was sin-binned midway through the second half.

"You've got to really dig deep when you're down to 14 men. It sharpens the resolve even more and the way we defended and didn't give away any points it was pretty awesome."

Won the round robin convincingly

Waugh, meanwhile, had no excuses. "They deserve to win the title, they won the round robin convincingly and we were outplayed tonight, so good on them," he said.

"The difference was the amount of pressure in our own half and that paid off for them."

After a Dan Carter penalty had the Crusaders ahead 3-0 early, the Waratahs hit the front on their first positive foray into the home side territory.

Following a patient build up from a series of pick-and-goes down the left flank, flyhalf Kurtley Beale kicked across to the right wing where Turner beat Carter in the air for the ball to cross for an easy try.

As the Waratahs successfully stymied wave after wave of Crusaders attacks over the next 15 minutes, the produced their second try from a Waugh intercept inside their own 22.

The ball was fed out to Turner who kicked ahead and won the race to the line with Beale's conversion giving them a 12-3 lead.

Although down on points, the Crusaders remained in command and they narrowed the gap over the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Carter kicked his second penalty when Tatafu Polota-Nau was penalised for lying on the ball and then Mose Tuiali'i scored in the corner after the Crusaders had stretched the Waratahs from one side of the field to the other.

The Waratahs led 12-11 at the turn but were unable to score a point in the second half.

The Crusaders regained the lead 14-12 with a Carter penalty three minutes after the resumption and never surrendered it.

He added a drop goal with 10 minutes remaining and then added his fourth penalty when Waugh tackled Crusaders wing Scott Hamilton without the ball.

With a 20-12 lead and the clock counting down, Reuben Thorne came off the bench for the last three minutes in his last first-class game in New Zealand.

Thorne is the only player to have appeared in all nine finals the Crusaders have contested.

Deans, meanwhile, is preparing to leave New Zealand to become the new Australian coach and on Monday will name his first Wallabies side which is expected to include many of the losing Waratahs team.

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