The Crusaders kept a proud 26-match unbeaten streak at home intact by the slimmest of margins as they drew 21-all with the Sharks in Christchurch on Friday.
Home flyhalf Mitch Hunt smartly hit a half-gap with the final hooter having already sounded as the defending champions hammered at the Durbanites’ defensive line to save face after they increasingly became frustrated with their own indiscipline and their opponents’ guts.
The Sharks’ recipe wasn’t particularly thoughtful, but it worked superbly well as pivot Curwin Bosch’s boot maximised their limited scoring opportunities.
However, critics will point out that that they showed very little on attack.
Who was the star in this match?
The Sharks loose trio was positively heroic on defence, with the in-form Dan du Preez also impressing again as ball-carrier. Given the nature of the game though, lock Ruan Botha deserved the plaudits. Not only did he complete nine tackles, he affected three turnovers that stifled the hosts.
Key moments and themes
- The Sharks only made a depressing 116 running metres, showcasing how little they did from an attacking point of view. They also only had 30% possession. That said, it was interesting how that didn’t actually translate into sustained Crusaders pressure. Indeed, the Sharks’ superb defence kept the home side pinned in midfield, meaning they seldom reached the red zone.
- The Crusaders were hardly at their best and will rightly bemoan how badly they kept their discipline. Uncharacteristic small handling errors also stopped their attacking momentum. But where they did show their class was making things count at the most vital stages. In the 55th minute, the Sharks had nobly won a scrum from some fine tackling again 5m out. It seemed to signal a momentum shift. Then the Crusaders responded by forcing a penalty from that set-piece, which led to centre Jack Goodhue’s try.
- One doesn’t want to criticise Bosch’ excellent kicking performance from the tee, yet in a game of such fine margins, the Sharks will – in hindsight – regret him hitting the upright with his very first attempt on goal.
Crusaders – Tries: Cody Taylor, Jack Goodhue, Mitch Hunt. Conversions: Hunt (3).
Sharks – Penalties: Curwin Bosch (7).