9 Apr 2016

Crusaders pip Force in Perth

5:13 am on 9 April 2016

The Crusaders scored two minutes from time to pip the the Western Force 20-19 in their Super Rugby game in Perth.

Crusaders winger Johnny McNicholl scores against the Western Force 2016.

Crusaders winger Johnny McNicholl scores against the Western Force 2016. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Force led 19-13 until the 78th minute when the Crusaders scored a late try through Jordan Taufua.

The visitors still trailed by a point but Richie Mo'unga slotted the conversion with ease to give his side their sixth win of the season.

The Crusaders had threatened to blow the match open in the first half with the only two tries and it could have been more had it not been for uncharacteristic ball-handling errors.

That continued all night with the Force's pressure outstanding. The home side opened their six-point lead with some good kicking from Peter Grant and a 61st-minute try to Ryan Louwrens.

But the Crusaders dominated possession, territory and the set-pieces, leading to the converted try to Taufua that secured their fifth straight win.

It was a heartbreaking fifth successive loss for the Force ahead of a bye.

Only the poor handling by the visitors stopped the Crusaders' lead from being greater than 13-6 at the half-time break following tries to Johnny McNicholl and Mitchell Drummond.

The Force stayed somewhat in touch with two penalties to Grant and then built some momentum to start the second half.

Two penalties to Grant and a stunning try to Louwrens after a critical steal and big run from Junior Rasolea gave the Force their surprise 19-13 lead in the 61st minute.

The Crusaders dominated the last 20 minutes but continued to make uncharacteristic handling errors, most notably a fumble to McNicholl that cost him what would have been a clear try.

But eventually, the Crusaders found a way through the Force's defence having dominated the set-pieces all night.