Crusaders player Mitch Hunt reacts after kicking a penalty on full time.
Crusaders player Mitch Hunt reacts after kicking a penalty on full time. DAVE HUNT

Crusaders come back to defeat Reds

RUGBY: For the second straight week the Crusaders turned around a huge deficit to steal another match at the death with a penalty after the siren to beat the Reds 22-20 in Brisbane.

Young Crusaders fly-half Mitch Hunt slotted a penalty from 35m out to win the match for the Crusaders, after Samu Kerevi gave away a penalty with his side in possession.

The two-point loss meant it was the Reds' second straight defeat since starting the season with a 28-26 win over the Sharks, and was their six straight loss against the Crusaders since their maiden Super Rugby final win in 2011.

James Slipper's men now face a challenge next month where they travel to play the Lions and Jaguares away, before returning to Brisbane to play last year's champions the Hurricanes.

The Crusaders, meanwhile, are the only undefeated New Zealand team, but are nursing an increasing casualty ward after Test backs Israel Dagg and Seta Tamanivalu, and loose forward Peter Samu went off with injuries.

Right from the outset the Reds dominated play and their early field position was rewarded Quade Cooper slotted a penalty goal to put the home side in front after five minutes.

Not long after a short ball from Cooper found Kerevi one-on-one with his opposite number

Jack Goodhue and the Test centre powered over from close range.

The Reds took a 17-nil lead midway through the first half when Eto Nabuli dived over out wide, after Kerevi broke through the defence and found his winger unmarked.

Crusaders scrum-half Mitch Drummond put his side on the board four minutes later, but Cooper's second penalty of the half saw the Reds take a 20-7 lead into the main break.

The Reds started well enough in the second half, but ill-discipline and poor handling saw the Crusaders gather momentum.

Replacement scrum-half Bryn Hall found space down the left-hand touchline and scored in the 63rd minute to bring the Crusaders back into the match.

Hall scored his second with four minutes left, sniping from the base of the ruck and putting the ball on the goalpost to bring the Crusaders back within a point.

The Reds looked to have the game in the bag when lock Jordie Barrett dropped the ball 25m out from the home side's line, and when they secured possession from the scrum all they had to do was run down the clock.

But Kerevi's infringement at the ruck gave the Crusaders to take the lead for the first time in the match and Hunt - filling in for the injured Richie Mo'unga - nailed the penalty.