Crusaders find top gear in the end
Saturday, February 18, 2006Â Print this article
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Chris Latham in the thick of it.
Photo: Getty Images
Crusaders 47 Reds 21
Queensland threatened to pull off a huge upset before suffering another second-half meltdown as the reigning champions ran away with victory Saturday night.
The gutsy Reds were on track for an astonishing Suncorp Stadium victory when skipper Chris Latham crossed the line for a crowd-stirring converted try to help his side into a 21-16 lead in the 58th minute.
But the Crusaders, inspired by classy All Blacks five-eighth Dan Carter, stormed home in the Brisbane heat with four tries in the last 13 minutes as the home side finished the game with 13 men.
It was a virtual carbon copy of last week's gut-wrenching fade-out to NSW when the Reds led until the 68th minute before injuries and exhaustion took their toll.
Last night, it was the 67th minute when the Crusaders broke the game open when Carter combined with Rico Gear to put Casey Laulala over.
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Three minutes later Carter, who was unusually off line with the boot in the first half, landing seven from 12 altogether, crossed for his second try to kill off Queensland.
The scoreline did no justice to the effort of the Reds, again led brilliantly by halfback Sam Cordingley, who controlled the match for the first hour but lacked the composure to finish off a handful of line breaks.
Rubbing salt into their wounds, they were denied a bonus point when a 75th-minute Elton Flatley try was dubiously called back for a shoulder charge by winger Henari Veratau.
From the ensuing play Carter kicked cross field for Gear to score.
It wasn't the only shoulder charge decision the Reds took issue with as No.8 Mitchell Chapman was sin-binned for such a knock in the 70th minute.
Apart from a misfiring lineout, Reds coach Jeff Miller lavished praise on his side's gutsy performance.
"For the second week in a row I was really proud of the guys and the way they stuck it to them," he said.
"The score wasn't a true reflection of the game. There are so many positives for us to take away from tonight's game and work even harder on."
There was a scare for the Reds when Latham limped off on the hour mark after aggravating a rib injury but he declared himself right for next Saturday's clash against the winless Blues.
Crusaders coach Robbie Deans said his All Blacks-laden team battled with the hot and humid conditions in a free-running game.
"We're delighted to get out of here with five points," he said.
Skipper Richie McCaw, winded by a huge tackle by Lloyd Johansson in the lead-up to Carter's second try, said the Reds pressure rattled them early
"For 60 minutes it was a real battle out there," he said. "The Reds put us under pressure and we made a few mistakes."
The 23,551-strong Brisbane crowd couldn't believe their eyes early as the Reds shot to a 8-0 lead and then saw the normally prolific Carter miss two penalties. But the off-colour Crusaders showed their quality and fired back strongly.
The fightback also ensured sweet 100-game celebrations for veterans Reuben Thorne and Caleb Ralph.
CRUSADERS 47 (D Carter 2, L MacDonald, C Laulala, R Gear, A Mauger tries; D Carter 4 goals, 3 pens) beat REDS 21 (D Mitchell, C Latham tries; E Flatley goal, 3 pens). Referee: Mark Lawrence. Crowd: 23,551.
after watching this game i have come to the conclusion that chris latham...is the man!!!
and he is the best fullback in the world..hmmm with percy montgomery hot on his trail
i dont rate muliaina much...almost one dimensional in most test matches...
reds actually played rugby for once..which was suprising coz they really sucked at it like last year but they really solid..suprising as i thought they would outlast the cantabs with there homefield advantage with the weather conditions..but no
shame on them and the blues will destroy them next week