CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - The back three of Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, and David Havili shared eight tries as the Crusaders emphatically sealed first place in Super Rugby by routing the Melbourne Rebels 66-0 in their last match of the regular season on Saturday.
Wingers Ennor and Reece scored three tries each and fullback Havili scored two as the defending champion Crusaders unleashed all of their backline armory in a 10-tries-to-nil win to make sure of home advantage through the playoffs. Ennor missed a fourth try when he knocked on with the line open in the last minutes.
Scrumhalf Bryn Hall combined with Reece for another try and center Ryan Crotty scored the last and most celebrated try to mark his 150th game for the Christchurch-based Crusaders. He added the conversion after flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, who created several tries with pinpoint kicks or passes, converted seven for 14 points. They led 26-0 at halftime.
Stung by last week’s shock loss to the Hamilton-based Chiefs in Suva, the Crusaders produced a brilliant attacking performance to crush the Rebels and move 14 points clear of the Wellington-based Hurricanes on the overall table.
“It’s awesome,” Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock said.
“Obviously last week the pressure came on a little bit. But it was awesome for (Crotty) to score in his 150th and wind back the clock by taking the shot at goal, too.”
The Crusaders tore to shreds a disorganized Rebels defense, especially taking advantage of wide gaps on both flanks. Mo’unga kicked to those spaces and Ennor, Reece, and Havili provided slick finishing touches.
Reece took his tally of tries for the season to 13, moving clear atop the list of try-scorers.
Ennor and Reece, both uncapped, are strong contenders for New Zealand’s squad to the Rugby World Cup.
Mo’unga also bounced back strongly from a poor performance against the Chiefs. He chose good attacking options to bring out the best in a Crusaders backline which has been subdued in recent matches.