Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Crusaders all-conquering champions of Super 12



The Crusaders rewarded themselves and their parochial fans when they continued their unbeaten Super 12 journey in a gruelling final against the Brumbies.

It is the fourth time in five years that the Crusaders have won the title but the first in Christchurch as they overcame the defending champions.

Playing into a very strong wind the Crusaders led 11-3 at half-time on the back of a Marika Vunibaka try, three kicking successes from Andrew Mehrtens and some massive defence.

The Brumbies lost play-maker Stephen Larkham with an arm injury. But with eight minutes left they had clawed back to just a point behind when Andrew Walker intercepted and converted his own try.

Faced with losing a match they had largely controlled, the Crusaders kicked into another gear. Mehrtens dropped a goal for a small buffer before the Brumbies conceded two converted tries as they tried to complete a last desperate comeback.

Crusaders left wing Caleb Ralph scored both, his first when the Crusaders turned over a long Brumbies lineout throw, and the last when he intercepted and ran 75 metres.

Crusaders 31: Vunibaka, Ralph (2): tries, Mehrtens: 3 penalties, 2 conversions, 1 drop goal.

Brumbies 13: Walker: try, 2 penalties, conversion.

Half-time 11-3.

Super 12 schedule and results

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 12 Dec 2016 03:58:23 Processing Time: 391ms