Reds 20 Crusaders 22

If performing two miracles is enough to earn sainthood in Catholicism, Scott Robertson and the Crusaders should be booking their trip to the Vatican.

Having last week stunned the Highlanders by scoring three tries in the final 15 minutes, the Crusaders tonight staged a second incredible comeback to shock the Reds in Brisbane.

Robertson's men were second-best for much of the match and were trailing 20-7 before finally sparking to life in the final quarter, with Bryn Hall's double setting up a game-winning penalty by Mitch Hunt after time had expired.

The improbable victory maintained the Crusaders' unbeaten start to the season but even the most one-eyed Cantabrian will concede that their side were fortunate to have established such a record.


They could have easily suffered back-to-back defeats in the last fortnight, with the Highlanders often their own worst enemy last week and the Reds unlucky to be leading by only 13 heading into halftime tonight.

After romping to victory by an average of 32.8 points in their last four encounters with the Reds, the Crusaders found themselves firmly on the back foot for the first 40 minutes.

They gave away silly penalties at inopportune times, committed far too many turnovers to establish any continuity and were seriously stretched on defence.

And, worst of all, they lost two of their best in the first 20 minutes, with Israel Dagg forced off clutching his knee and Seta Tamanivalu following a short time later with what appeared a hamstring injury.

The departure of that pair - along with the long-term absence of first five Richie Mo'unga - left the Crusaders worryingly short of game-breakers and, with the Reds' own key men firing, the home side had their way with the visitors.

The strength of Samu Kerevi was the chief factor in establishing that ascendancy, with the centre scoring his side's first and setting up the second, but the Reds bookended the first half in costly fashion by butchering a couple of potential tries.

The Crusaders' only points, meanwhile, arrived courtesy of a friendly bounce that led to Mitchell Drummond's try, an inadequacy that initially continued in the second spell.

But, having sufficiently increased their degree of difficulty when Jordan Taufua was sin-binned for an attempted punch, the Crusaders decided to flick the switch and win the match.


First, Hall finished off his side's best attacking raid of the game, then the halfback showed forced the ball at the base of the post to pull his side within one, setting the stage for Hunt to play hero.

Reds 20 (S. Kerevi, E. Nabuli tries; Q. Cooper 2 pens, 2 cons)
Crusaders 22 (M. Drummond, B. Hall 2 tries; M. Hunt 2 cons, pen)
Halftime: 20-7