Crusaders notch bonus-point Cheetahs win

00:08, Apr 13 2014
Richie McCaw
The expression of Richie McCaw's face says it all after the Crusaders missed seven penalties in an 18-10 loss to the Chiefs.
Israel Dagg
Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg runs at Liam Messam during the season opener.
Nafi Tuitavake
Crusaders wing Nafi Tuitavake runs away from Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick.
Crusaders fans
Almost 17,000 Crusaders fans packed into Christchurch Stadium for the season opener.
Tim Perry
Crusaders prop Tim Perry is taken down by Charlie Faumuina.
Richie McCaw
Richie McCaw eyes up a tackle on George Moala before leaving the field injured.
Colin Slade
Colin Slade celebrates his first half try against the Blues.
Colin Slade and Reynold Lee-Lo
Crusaders Colin Slade (right) and Reynold Lee-Lo fail to secure the ball under pressure from George Moala.
Crusaders 2014 season
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers and the Crusaders' Kieran Read await a referee's decision during their clash in Christchurch.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates the final whistle following his side's comeback win over the Stormers.
Crusaders 2014 season
The Crusaders cheerleaders get the crowd going before kick-off against the Stormers.
Crusaders 2014 season
Sam Whitelock reaches highest to claim lineout ball for the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
Kieran Read
Captain Kieran Read chats to his forward pack during a break against the Rebels.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg attempts to get himself out of the grasp of a Melbourne Rebel.
Israel Dagg
Israel Dagg unleashes a punt downfield.
Colin Slade
Crusaders first-five Colin Slade fires a pass to his outside backs.
Ben Funnell
Crusaders Kieran Read (left) and Nafi Tuitavake rush to congratulate hooker Ben Funnell after scoring.
2014 Crusaders season
Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders tries to offload under pressure from Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes.
2014 Crusaders season
Ryan Crotty makes a break for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes in Christchurch.
2014 Crusaders season
The Crusaders players look dejected after losing to the Hurricanes at the death.
2014 Crusaders season
Nemani Nadolo makes a charge down the wing for the Crusaders against the Hurricanes.
2014 Crusaders season
The Crusaders' Kieron Fonotia and Owen Franks get to grips with Schalk van der Merwe of the Lions.
2014 Crusaders season
Nepo Laulala of Crusaders tackling Faf de Klerk of Lions during the teams' clash at Ellis Park.
Crusaders 2014 season
George Whitelock and Matt Todd of Crusaders smash Lions No 8 Warren Whitley.
Crusaders
Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock takes a charge at the Lions defence.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders No 10 Colin Slade goes on a run against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders halfback Willi Heinz floats a pass out in his teams clash with the Cheetahs.
Crusaders 2014 season
Crusaders captain Kieran Read breaks away from the back of a maul against the Cheetahs.
Crusaders 2014 season
Ryan Crotty swats the Cheetahs defence out of his way in Bloemfontein.
Crusaders 2014 season
Quade Cooper of the Reds is tackled by Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Richie McCaw of the Crusaders takes the lineout during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Luke Whitelock of the Crusaders breaks away from the defence to score a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders celebrates with team mate Israel Dagg after scoring a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders scores a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Nemani Nandolo of the Crusaders storms down the sideline during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Brodie Retallick of the Chiefs and Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders wrestle off the ball during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Willi Heinz of the Crusaders in action during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Samuel Whitelock of the Crusaders has a word with a team-mate during the Chiefs and Crusaders Super Rugby match.
Crusaders 2014 season
Pat McCabe of the Brumbies is tackled by Israel Dagg of the Crusaders.
Crusaders 2014 season
Colin Slade of the Crusaders kicks a conversion during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Crusaders 2014 season
Sam Whitelock of the Crusaders is tackled during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Crusaders 2014 season
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Brumbies.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea celebrates the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders during their Round 17 Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Dan Carter
Dan Carter of the Crusaders looks to make a break against the Hurricanes during his first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Ryan Crotty
Ryan Crotty, captain of the Crusaders, is tackled by Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes during their Super Rugby clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis of the Crusaders and Dane Coles of the Hurricanes scuffle during their round 17 Super Rugby match.
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Nemani Nadolo crashes over the line for the Crusaders under pressure from a stern Blues defence.
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Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty has a cut at the Blues' line with Andy Ellis in support.
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Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo on the charge against the Blues at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Ma'a Nonu
Blues star Ma'a Nonu is tackled by Dan Carter of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis, centre, of the Crusaders is tackled by Blues players Tony Woodcock (left) and Luke Braid (right) during his side's win in Christchurch.
Dominic Bird
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird powers through a number of would-be Blues defenders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Nemani Nadolo
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try against the Blues in round 18.
Dan Carter
Crusaders second-five Dan Carter is tackled by All Blacks team-mate and Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Andy Ellis of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Colin Slade
Colin Slade shows his courage on a scything run against the Highlanders in round 19 of Super Rugby.
Colin Slade
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo fights for the ball in midair with Highlanders opposite Richard Buckman.
Colin Slade
New Zealand's top first five eighth Dan Carter on the break against the Highlanders.
Colin Slade
Israel Dagg shows his deft touch, unloading the ball while aerial in the tackle of Highlanders wing Patrick Osbourne.
Colin Slade
A Crusaders horseman spurs cheers from the Christchurch crowd ahead of their clash with the Highlanders.

Richie McCaw won't be available for the resurgent Crusaders' ahead of their match against the Chiefs in Hamilton next weekend.

McCaw, who had a screw inserted in his thumb after fracturing it against the Blues on February 28, hoped to be back playing Super Rugby when the Crusaders returned from playing in South Africa.

Head coach Todd Blackadder, speaking after the Crusaders 52-31 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this morning, confirmed flanker McCaw won't be considered until the following fixture against the Brumbies in Christchurch on May 3.

Willi Heinz
CLEARING THE WAY: Crusaders halfback Willi Heinz clears the ball from a ruck during their 52-31 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The Crusaders have the bye after meeting the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium.

"It's just taken a little bit longer (to heal); he hasn't reinjured it or done anything silly,'' Blackadder said in reference to McCaw.

"It just hasn't healed as fast as initially thought it would. It's just all part of it. The good news he is going to be back in a couple of weeks.''

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The Crusaders, who left McCaw behind in New Zealand during their tour of South Africa, haven't won both of their matches in the Republic since 2008.

Their victories over the Lions and Cheetahs also marked a personal milestone for Blackadder who has never guided a team through South Africa unbeaten since taking over as head coach 2009.

Their last win in Bloemfontein was in 2007 under former coach Robbie Deans.

Now, following the six-try bonus-point victory at Free State Stadium, the Crusaders return home full of optimism and they may also be to call in All Blacks lock Luke Romano.

Blackadder said there was a "possibility'' Romano, who didn't tour because of injury, could return. If fit he could replace Dominic Bird or be named on the bench ahead of Jimmy Tupou.

Despite making a raft of changes early in the second half against the Cheetahs, Blackadder said none of his players picked up any injuries that are expected to rule them out of consideration for their match against the Chiefs.

When the Crusaders left for South Africa a fortnight ago they were under immense pressure, having lost three of their opening six matches. They have since forced their way into the top eight and sit on 18 points.

Blackadder would have had some nervous moments as he watched the Cheetahs pull their way back into the match; after trailing 26-10 they rattled on three tries inside 10 minutes to lead 31-26 with 20 minutes remaining.

"That 10 minutes they had was just unbelievable and it was a real momentum shift to be back in front,'' Blackadder said.

"What was really pleasing was the messages from the (Crusaders) players out on the field. They were talking about just getting their hands on the ball, being really patient and putting them under a lot of pressure.''

The Crusaders led 19-10 at halftime and advanced their lead when Nemani Nadolo, who scored a hat-trick of tries, dotted down immediately after the re-start.

"We felt before halftime we were starting to get on top. The Cheetahs looked as if they were out on their feet ... I was just so pleased with the fightback. The guys were bloody tough tonight.''

 

Crusaders 52 (Nemani Nadolo 3, Tom Taylor, Israel Dagg, Colin Slade tries; Slade 4 con, 4 pen, Tyler Bleyendaal con) Cheetahs 31 (Cornal Hendricks, Sarel Pretorius, Teboho Mahoje, Willie le Roux tries; Elgar Watts 4 cons, pen). HT: 19-10

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