The Crusaders are off on the right boot, winning their first game, a 45 – 23 New Zealand Conference win over the Chiefs.
If the Crusaders were looking to send a message to the conference and to the league, they certainly achieved that objective.
This was a game for the ages, if you will excuse our hyperbole.
It might be said, with us in mind, that it was a game for the aged, but you get the idea, no doubt. The entertainment value of this match was beyond compare.
It was a seesaw affair. The game was in the balance late into the affair, with only three points separating the two sides as the clock ticked down.
With the score favouring the Crusaders 26 – 23, they were awarded a penalty try as the outcome of a swinging arm belong to Chiefs’ player Lachlan Boshier to the shoulder of a diving Ryan Crotty that ended up wrapped around Crotty’s neck.
It did not seem as though there was any deliberate malice on the part of Boshier, but referee Ben O’Keefe said something to the effect of them rules being rules, which gave the try to the Crusaders and sent Boshier to the side for a sojourn in the sin bin.
With the numerical advantage, the Crusaders decided to give the supporter at the home ground game an exhibition of how to finish off a fatally wounded opponent.
The Crusaders were themselves to 14 men not once, but twice in the first half.
“The boys are blowing pretty hard. It’s pretty tough when you go down to 14 men for a period.The best thing is the boys really stuck together.We figured out what we had to do and that resolve really got us through in the end.”
With a game that was controversial throughout, as games were men are sent off can be, the primary difference was that the Crusaders were able to take advantage of playing against a short side, while the Chiefs were not.