5 Mar 2011

Crusaders win in Nelson to bring small ray of light to dark week

6:27 am on 5 March 2011

The Crusaders overcame a heart-wrenching 10 days to send a signal to the rest of the Super rugby competition that it was business as usual after dumping the New South Wales Waratahs 33-18 in Nelson on Friday night.

The South Island based side had moved the game to Trafalgar Park following the devastating earthquake on February the 22nd that ripped the heart out of Christchurch, killing at least 163 people and levelling much of the central business district in New Zealand's second-largest city.

The team had also originally scheduled their first home match to commemorate the 29 victims of the Pike River coal mine explosion last November.

Both teams observed a minute's silence before kickoff, while the majority of the sold-out crowd wore red and black, as did tens of thousands of New Zealanders on Friday in a sign of solidarity with Canterbury.

Ironically, the Crusaders had changed their normal strip, wearing specially designed shirts in the traditional red and white colours of the West Coast union, where the Pike River mine is located.

After cancelling their game against the Wellington Hurricanes last week because of the earthquake, the Crusaders appeared rusty in the first 25 minutes making numerous handling errors and forcing passes in the face of an aggressive defensive line by the Waratahs.

The Sydney-based side established a 13-9 lead on the back of tries to second five Tom Carter and halfback Luke Burgess and a long-range penalty by Kurtley Beale.

But the Crusaders scored three tries, two to blockbusting centre Robbie Fruan and one to second five Sonny Bill Williams and cruised to victory in the second half on the back of flawless first five Dan Carter who kicked seven from seven kick attempts.