Terrific Tom Taylor steals show for Crusaders
Dan Carter could have a huge fight on his hands for his beloved No.10 jersey after replacement Tom Taylor produced a Carter-like performance to singlehandedly stop previously unbeaten Stormers dead.
CRUSADERS - 31(TRIES: Taylor; CONS: Taylor; PENS: Taylor 8)
STORMERS - 24 (TRIES: De Jongh, Habana; CONS: Pietersen; PENS: Pietersen 2, Grant 2)
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder raised a few eyebrows when he opted to shift the world’s best fly-half to inside centre for the little-known 23-year-old, but Taylor’s masterclass proved it was no gamble as
he scored all of his side’s 31 points to revive their finals hopes.
Brought into the starting XV to ease the pressure on Carter, who’s struggled for form since returning from his World Cup-ending groin injury, Taylor did much more than that, scoring the opening try and landing a
perfect nine from nine from the boot to end the Cape Town-based Stormers six-game winning streak.
The win lifted the Kiwi heavyweights to seventh in the standings - one place outside the all-important top six - and having stuttered their way through the first half of the competition skipper Kieran Read insisted it’s time they found some consistency.
“I was happy with the way we started and just keeping it going for 80 minutes,” Read said. “We’ve just got to keep momentum going and hopefully get up again next week.” Despite outscoring the hosts by two tries to one, Taylor’s faultless kicking display meant the Stormers were always playing catch up at Christchurch Stadium.
A heavy injury toll also did them no favours with starting locks Adries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth forced from the field, while fly-half Peter Grant spent a large chunk of time on the sidelines with a nasty head gash.
And captain Jean de Villiers admitted: “To lose two locks within the first 20 minutes of the game, that’s pretty tough. But that’s rugby and injury will always be part of the game.” The visitors still managed to get within one point of the Crusaders midway through the second half when Springbok wing Bryan Habana found the line following a movement of more than 20 phases.
However, Joe Pietersen missed the conversion and Taylor, son of former All Black Warwick Taylor, made him pay, booting three more penalties to cap off a memorable performance.
Meanwhile, the ACT Brumbies cemented their place at the top of the Australian conference by blitzing the Melbourne Rebels with a five-try 37-6 thrashing in Canberra.