Saturday, June 25, 2011
The Canterbury Crusaders put in a strong second half performance to power away from the Sharks and take a convincing 36-8 win in Nelson, qualifying them for the Semi Finals of Super Rugby.
It was a game that had all the makings of a classic, yet the poor handling from both sides amidst dewy conditions meant that progress was hampered and the game failed to flow for the most part. Early on the Sharks won the physical battle, but were the victims of their own demise as they coughed up the ball and failed to make real inroads into the final third.
The Crusaders were typically composed, as they played the percentages and even when Dan Carter missed kicks uncharacteristically, they wore down their opponents and capitalised on their chances later in the match. "It took a bit of time, we knew that was going to be the case but the guys just stuck to it," captain Kieran Read said after the game.
Their was some controversy surrounding some of the calls from referee Bryce Lawrence, but the Sharks themselves will know that the challenge facing them over in New Zealand was a massive one. The home side now have to do a similar trek, as they will have to travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers in the semi final next weekend.
"It's just part of this journey these boys have created this season and we want to do well over there (in South Africa) and hopefully get another win under our belts."
Sharks captain Stefan Terblanche was gracious in defeat. "We would have liked to have gone on further but we came up against a championship team tonight.
"They've had a lot of adversity, a lot of difficulty outside of rugby. For a team to come together the whole season, not to play one home game all season, well, the Sharks wish them all the very best," he said, referring to the Crusaders not having a regular home ground.