The men from Durban led 9-7 at the break following three penalty goals from Curwin Bosch, and with time up on the clock they were 21-14 in front before Hunt punched a hole in the visitors’ defence after a sustained period of forward pressure from the defending champions.
The Cell C Sharks will be disappointed that they were not unable to close out a great defensive effort in their favour, while the Cantabrians underlined their pedigree under pressure and their renowned ability to grind out a result – a draw in this case – even though they were under a lot of pressure for most parts of the gripping match.
The South Africans tackled like Trojans throughout and they definitely took to heart the advice of their coach, Robert du Preez, who demanded a gutsy performance on defence and concentration for the full 80 minutes.
The Cell C Sharks will feel aggrieved that they could not breach the home defence for a try despite their advantageous territory and possession. Handling errors at crucial times as well as inaccurate execution prevented them from crossing the Crusaders’ line. They did however play with fire and determination up front to heap massive pressure on the home pack.
And their sterling efforts in the forward exchanges paid off handsomely, resulting in a string of penalties which were all but one converted by the accurate kicking boot of Bosch, who kept his side on the front foot right up until the final moments of the match.
Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue and Hunt each scored the Crusaders’ tries, while Hunt also kicked the three important conversions, including his own effort after the final hooter to prevent the Durban side from leaving Christchurch with a famous win.
Crusaders 21 (7) – Tries: Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue, Mitch Hunt. Conversions: Hunt (3).
Cell C Sharks 21 (9) – Penalty goals: Curwin Bosch (7).