In a double-celebration, the Crusaders faced down the Sunwolves challenge at AMI Stadium, while congratulating the achievement of longtime player, Wyatt Crockett. He reached a personal milestone of 176 matches, which set a new all-time record in Super Rugby.
Crusaders 50 – Tries: Manasa Mataele (3), Kieran Read, Ben Funnell, Pete Samu, George Bridge, Whetu Douglas; Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (3), Marty McKenzie (2)
Sunwolves 3 – Penalty: Yu Tamura
The match was played on Good Friday, and it was a good outing for the home side. After the region was saturated over the 24 hour period leading up to the game, the conditions were ‘soaking wet’. Though the rain had stopped, it meant the ball was slippery which accounted for the 24 turnovers from the home team.
Coach Scott Robertson would be fairly satisfied, more so with the first half. “You could see the frustration on the players because they wanted to play, but the conditions probably didn’t allow for a few of those balls to stick. The Sunwolves were courageous – they stuck at it.”
There were many Japanese fans present at the stadium, all showing the spread of interest (even considering the recent SANZAAR future layout of Super Rugby). It was not enough to bring a huge win, like against the Bulls, but they did prevent the Crusaders from adding more points late in the game.
The execution was not as precise as he would have liked, with a slow start before Manasa Mataele electrified the game in real style. He crossed three times in the opening 40 minutes, running 76 meters and making a big splash with the 10,000 strong crowd.
Eight Try Return for Table-Topping Crusaders
Many in the crowd might have felt that with a 29-3 halftime lead, they would be entertained more in the second half. And while another 21 points were added, it wasn’t perfect. What was pleasing was Kieran Read lasting 49 minutes. That was the prime objective; with all due respect to the visitors. Bringing back Read, Jack Goodhew and Richie Mo’unga means the group is almost complete. Now awaiting the recovery of Israel Dagg which will then bolster further the unbeaten Crusaders.
They now enter Round Nine as the clear leading New Zealand team–a crucial step toward the overall goal of claiming the first title in nearly a decade. With long established players like Crockett and Mitchell Drummond each contributing, and new men like Whetu Douglas and Mataele adding depth, it is looking like 2017 is going to be a return to the good old days [a winning culture].
Wyatt Crockett: A True Crusader
‘Crocky’ was honoured post-match with a gift from the Crusaders organization. See main photo, the mounted-sword was recognition of his achievement. The symbol of the team, given to men like Robbie Deans, Todd Blackadder and Richie McCaw. It was handed to Crockett by Rueben Thorne, the former Crusaders and All Blacks captain, who was in the 2005 team in which Crockett debuted.
— Fox Sports Lab (@FoxSportsLab) April 14, 2017
SkySports asked him ‘what has the week been like?’ to which Wyatt answered “It’s been a little bit different. It’s been a really special week, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from past team mates and management. A week of reflection but we tried to really focus going into the game, and we got that part right.
It’s extremely special every time you put this jersey on.
“It’s an incredible team to be a part of, and you want to make sure you come in and do your bit, and don’t let the team down,” which he has achieved over 13 seasons. A true warrior who has in fact improved with age and determination to work hard at his craft.
SANZAAR Applaud Most Capped Super Rugby Player
Media Release: SANZAAR would like to congratulate Crusader’s prop Wyatt Crockett who will set a Super Rugby appearance record when he lines up for the Crusaders against the Sunwolves, in Round 8.
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said, “175 games is a tremendous achievement for a player who is at the coal face of one of the hardest and most competitive rugby competitions in the world. It is a testament to his athletic abilities, mental fortitude and his professionalism that his career has lasted 12 years at this level.”
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew acknowledged Crockett’s milestone, “Wyatt is a very proud Crusader, having played all his Super Rugby for the team and his provincial rugby for Canterbury. This is a significant achievement for him and his family.”
George Smith to Reach 150 Games in Super Rugby
Not only have Crockett and Liam Messam made milestones, but Australian player George Smith is set to leave his mark on the record books. The former ACT Brumbies player will reach 150 games when he starts for the Queensland Reds tonight, in Brisbane.
Congratulations to @Reds_Rugby George Smith who becomes only the third Australian player to reach 150 games when he plays the Kings tomorrow
— First XV ? (@Rugbystuff) April 14, 2017
The former Wallabies flanker has set a benchmark over 17 seasons; in gold, in the colours of the Brumbies, and right across the rugby world. Like Messam, his role as a flanker has evolved from bruising tackler, to now being a link in the chain which see’s him run more meters than most. He told the Courier Mail in Australia “This one resonates with me a fair bit because it shows the longevity of my career and it’s pretty special to share with Sharpie and Squeak (Moore), two good mates” Smith said.
The Reds now have all three leading players, with Nathan Sharpe (162) and current hooker; and Wallabies captain, Stephen Moore (171).
The Reds face the Kings during Super Rugby Round Eight.
“Main photo credit”