The Crusaders had too much class for the Cheetahs, subjecting the South Africans to a second successive 50-point beating in the Vodacom Super 14.
South African coaches often lament a lack of ‘basics’ after yet another caning in the Vodacom Super 14. A 53-17 clout for a Cheetahs side at the hands of the Crusaders, despite performing their core duties adequately, brutally underlined the flaws in that thinking.
The Vodacom Super 14 is a competition of complexity and not basics, and this was no better exhibited on a Saturday night in Christchurch where South Africa’s domestic champions faced the region’s multiple champs.
The Cheetahs relied on an imposing pack, impressive set pieces and a lack of mistakes to grind out Currie Cup glory. Three weeks into their overseas tour, they have found that the same ingredients are a recipe for a massacre in the Super 14.
Pundits will again term the performance of the Cheetahs as ‘brave’. The more accurate description is ‘limited’. They won their scrums, disrupted the Crusaders’ lineout and defended adequately, but still conceded over 50.
Remarkably the score after 20 minutes was 10-10, after a risky Ryno van der Merwe decision to go for the try over a kickable penalty saw the skipper rewarded with an equalling score.
Cheetahs fans would have been well advised to enjoy the moment.
The forthcoming hour saw the Crusaders post 43 points with seven in reply. They were hardly flawless, but exhibited the skills and vision that South African sides simply do not possess. The ability to offload in the tackle, and the failure to almost never pass to a man in a worse position, saw the Cheetahs line broken more often than it was not.
Equally important was the contrasting running styles of the two teams. The Crusaders backs attack space. They step before contact in an attempt to avoid contact. The Cheetahs, in contrast, sought to impose their physical dominance over the Crusaders and attacked man and not space. Repeated rampaging runs from the pack, bash and crash from Barry Goodes and Ronnie Cooke in midfield saw a well worked score from the lineout in the 20th minute and a consolation score at the death through Bevin Fortuin.
That was it, they never threatened more and a 17 point haul is an accurate reflection of what the boys from Bloem offered with ball in hand.
The entire Crusaders team stood tall, but Dan Carter again towered amongst men. A 28 point haul was his reward for a near impeccable flyhalf display.
The Saders are in a different league to the South African sides, and the decimation of Erasmus’s side shows just how wide that gulf actually is.
Tries: Mose Tuiali’i, Leon MacDonald, Kevin Senio, Rico Gear, Dan Carter 2 and Scott Hamilton
Cons: Carter 6
Pens: Carter 2
Tries: Ryno van der Merwe and Bevin Fortuin
Cons: Willem de Waal and Meyer Bosman
Pen: De Waal
By Chris Hewitt