On a night that saw the Bulls heavily criticised for their kicking, it might surprise some to learn that it was the seven-try Crusaders who kicked more than the home side!
In a masterclass at Loftus, the travelling Crusaders showed why they have won this tournament so often, romping to a 45-13 win over a strangely lacklustre Bulls side.
With the tourists gaining 814m from 119 carries – at an average of 6.8m per carry (2m more than the Bulls) – it looks, at first glance, like the dominant Crusaders opted for an all-out, ball-in-hand attack strategy.
That they were impressive with ball in hand is not in doubt, but it was backed up by an astute kicking game. Making close on 200m more than the Bulls via the boot, it was the visitors who kicked 34 times in the game. Ten more than the Bulls!
Yet it was the home side who were criticised for “kicking it away”…
And therein lies the rub. While one side was utilising a pre-planned kicking game to get into the opposition’s half, the other was desperately kicking to get out of their own half.
Throw in an inept kick chase from the men in light blue, and they might as well have wrapped the ball in a ribbon and included a few Quality Streets in the package.
Another standout stat saw Crusaders tighthead prop Michael Alaalatoa, on 43m, make more metres with ball in hand than every Bulls player except Rosko Specman and Burger Odendaal!
Try-scoring machine Sevu Reece made 130m in scoring his 3 tries, while master tactician on the night, Richie Mo’unga, carved off 108m from his 10 carries.
A look at the match stats from Loftus:
- Points: BUL 13-45 CRU
- Tries: BUL 1-7 CRU
- Penalty goals: BUL 2-0 CRU
- Goal kicking %: BUL 100% – 71% CRU
- Possession: BUL 52% – 48% CRU
- Territory: BUL 55% – 45% CRU
- Ball in play: 36 minutes
- Metres run: BUL 482-814 CRU
- Ball Carries: BUL 99-119 CRU
- Metres per carry: BUL 4.9-6.8 CRU
- Line breaks: BUL 7-8 CRU
- Tackle breaks: BUL 3-3 CRU
- Passes: BUL 108-139 CRU
- Good Passes: BUL 100-127 CRU
- Offloads: BUL 7-10 CRU
- Rucks won: BUL 81-70 CRU
- Rucks lost: BUL 2-2 CRU
- Mauls won: BUL 3-0 CRU
- Turnovers conceded: BUL 16-15 CRU
- Tackles made: BUL 108-115 CRU
- Tackles missed: BUL 16-13 CRU
- Tackle success: BUL 87% – 91% CRU
- Tackle turnover: BUL 0-0 CRU
- Dominant tackles: BUL 3-14 CRU
- Turnovers won: BUL 3-6 CRU
- Kicks from hand: BUL 24-34 CRU
- Metres kicked: BUL 733-916 CRU
- Metres per kick: BUL 30-30 CRU
- Handling errors: BUL 14-12 CRU
- Penalties conceded: BUL 5-12 CRU
- Yellow cards: BUL 0-0 CRU
First phase stats:
- Lineouts won: BUL 12-8 CRU
- Lineouts stolen: BUL 0-1 CRU
- Scrums won: BUL 5-9 CRU
- Scrums lost: BUL 0-0 CRU
- Own kickoff won: BUL 0-0 CRU
- Own kickoff lost: BUL 8-4 CRU