Ah, what a funny old game this is. I don't think I have ever seen a team get back up off the canvas like the Crusaders did today.
Canterbury was down 31-6 after 20 minutes, with the Cats in full control. A few of the crusaders back line were guilty of making unforced errors that gave the Cats excellent field position, but really they deserved the tries that they created from those opportunities and must have felt like they had notched up 5 valuable points in the tournament (4 points for the win and a bonus point for 4 tries) in commanding fashion.
But it was not to be.
Almost immediately after James Kerr was woken from his 20 minute nightmare at fullback (by a timely substitution for Leon McDonald) things looked up for the Crusaders.
It started with a slick lineout move in the Cats 22 that saw the often maligned (on Rugbyheads at least!) Greg Feek crash over for a try. This was closely followed by a barnstorming run by Marshall that saw Norm Berryman canter away for the first of his two tries. Both those tries were converted by Merhts, and he slotted a penalty late in the half to pull the Crusaders back to 23-31 at the half.
We felt pretty happy with that scoreline, particularly given the 65%-35% advantage that the Cats held in possession and field position at the half.
The second-half was a thing of beauty, that should have warmed the heart of many a disillusioned Cantab supporter.
Merhts and Marshall had their best game of the season by far. Together they were instrumental in at least 2 of the 4 more tries that the Crusaders ran in in the 2nd 40. It is worth noting that until the Cats captain Erasmus crashed over in the 76th minute for a late consulation try the Crusaders had stacked on 52 unanswered points, surely some sort of S12 record!
The final score, 58-38 to the mighty Red and Black juggernaut!
While the Crusaders are still going to be very lucky to finish in the top 4 this year (although the Blues loss certainly helps our chances) but if they can play with the enthusiasm and passion that they showed today in their last two round robin games then I will be a very proud Canterbury supporter indeed!
The game of the season so far.....
A big Mehrts salute to the TAB, fancy giving the Cats the edge eh?