11 Jul 2016

Crusaders rout Rebels in Christchurch

11:56 am on 11 July 2016

The Crusaders celebrated Sam Whitelock's 100th game of Super Rugby by crushing the Rebels 85-26 in Christchurch.

Sam Whitelock.

Sam Whitelock. Photo: Photosport

The winger Johnny McNicholl scored three of the Crusaders 13 tries, while first-five-eighth Richie Mo'unga kicked 14 points.

Look back at match commentary here.

With Kieran Read being rested, Whitelock brought up his tonne wearing the captain's armband.

His celebration began in just the 2nd minute when the big All Blacks lock scored from a pick-and-go following a charge down from flanker Jimmy Tupou.

Ryan Crotty added to the Crusaders' tally just two minutes later.

The centre collected a loose ball and stormed through the Rebel's line from 30 metres out.

Ryan Crotty.

Ryan Crotty. Photo: Photosport

Whitelock's locking partner Scott Barrett was next to dot down for the home team after he was slipped an outside ball from winger Nemani Nadolo.

The tries were coming thick and fast for the Crusaders as prop Alex Hodgman scored his first try in Super Rugby while running support for a break by his midfielders.

Nadolo then finished a fluent series of passes in the corner, before McNicholl sliced through the Rebels' woeful defence to score.

Nemani Nadolo and Johnny McNicholl share a moment.

Nemani Nadolo and Johnny McNicholl share a moment. Photo: Photosport

The match was becoming one-sided until a break from the Rebels' centre Sefanaia Naivalu was completed by his captain Nic Stirzaker under the posts.

A flash of brilliance from the Crusaders flyhalf Richie Mo'unga set up Crotty's second on the stroke of half-time with the home team ahead 43-7.

The flood of tries continued shortly after the break when hooker Codie Taylor hitched a ride on the back of rolling maul before bagging his second thanks to some slick offloads from Ryan Crotty and Andy Ellis.

Another break from Mo'unga led to a try by Peter Samu before the Rebels winger Reece Hodge scored against the run of play from a chip and chase.

Nemani Nadolo.

Nemani Nadolo. Photo: Photosport

Samu made the break that set up McNicholl's 2nd before flanker Matt Todd ran 50 metres to the line and was named man of the match.

Culum Retallick crashed over for the Rebels' 3rd and Naivalu the 4th from another impressive run, just as McNicholl completed his hat-trick.

The victory held the Crusaders in second place in the New Zealand conference and in contention for the playoffs, an honour likely to be decided in their final regular season game next week against the Hurricanes in Christchurch.