The Queensland Reds responded to coach Brad Thorne’s demands for a state of origin but they did not match the Crusaders’ polish as they bowed out of the Super Rugby Pacific final.
The Crusaders scored 21 unbeaten points for a comfortable 37-15 win in Friday’s opening quarterfinal in Christchurch before the Reds trailed Filippo Daugunu just one point early in the second half before the Crusaders flexed their championship muscles.
It was a disappointing but predictable end to the Queensland season, with the train shutting down due to serious injuries to the original Wallabis James O’Connor and Taniela Tupau.
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The following week the Crusaders chased the Reds set-piece to set the stage for a victory that would book them home semifinals next week.
“We need to take another step, of course,” Thorne said.
“I got an edge all week because I wanted to do a job. We wanted to do something very special and we couldn’t achieve that.”
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Tri-scoring winger Daugunu and Suliasi Vunivalu were both impressed and reminded Wallabis coach Dave Renny of their attacking ability before being named in the Test squad semifinals to play in England.
The Crusaders ‘Tri All Blacks back was scored by Will Jordan, Richie Munga and Sevu Rees Plus Tamaiti by Williams’ Clincher.
“To the Crusaders’ credit, they were brilliant tonight,” said Reds co-captain Liam Wright.
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“I thought our guys really stuck to it and took the challenge to them in the first 50-odd minutes that we wanted to ask. We knew adversity was against us and things like that but I think we were able to play. So tonight we We can be proud of that but the Crusaders have outclassed in the last 20-30 minutes. “
Wright Scrum regrets the struggle that sabotaged the quality ball for his back and the loss leaves Australia with only two title hopes – Waratah and Brumbis – who will face the Chiefs and Hurricanes on Saturday, respectively.
“Unfortunately this is not the result we wanted this year,” Wright said.
“We wanted to go to the finals and obviously take the trophy home. I think it shows its legacy when we really show and prepare and do the work that we can really stick with these teams. That’s where we’ve got to class tonight.
“But the Crusaders are a great outfit and I think it gives us confidence, shows that we can hold it against them and physically match them. Something to take forward.
“It’s obviously hard to look at a scoreline like this, to get some positive out of it but something good happened tonight. I think we’ve taken our step forward since last week and in the end, the Crusaders were very good so congratulations to them.”
Concerns were raised about Wright’s co-captain Tate McDermott, who left the field at a Medicab before receiving a positive forecast.
“Tate is good, it’s hard to see him drop like that but he’s a brave little halfback and he puts everything he has for the team,” Wright said.
“She is OK. She is OK. We are happy to announce that she is OK.”
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