Carter kicks Crusaders into finals

PA Sport
Dan Carter kicked 23 points to help put Crusaders in the Super 15 semi-finals
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Dan Carter kicked 23 points to help put Crusaders in the Super 15 semi-finals

Dan Carter kicked 23 points as the Crusaders booked their place in the Super 15 semi-finals with a comfortable 28-13 victory over an error-strewn Bulls side at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

Fly-half Carter kicked six penalties, a drop goal and converted Zac Guildford's try, which he created, as Todd Blackadder's side dominated every facet of the game.

Morne Steyn kicked a penalty for the visitors while Dewald Potgieter and Wynand Olivier crossed for second-half tries, but it was too little, too late.

Carter set the tone when he booted the Crusaders into a sixth-minute lead, and he soon doubled that advantage with a second penalty amid a menacing attack. The Bulls tried to get a foothold in the game through Steyn's kicking from hand, but the Crusaders' control of possession meant they barely got into the home side's half in the opening quarter.

Carter blotted his copybook by missing a straightforward three-point attempt as Flip van der Merwe became the latest Bulls player to infringe. The Bulls awful start was summed up when Steyn's attempt at a cross-kick barely got off the ground to give the Crusaders another attacking platform, one they accepted with alacrity.

Carter fixed two defenders by feinting right and slipped wing Guildford into a hole for his eighth try of the season, which the fly-half converted. His masterful display continued as he regathered a loose pass from captain Richie McCaw, swivelled and nonchalantly dropped a goal for a 16-0 lead after 34 minutes.

Steyn did at least put the Bulls on the board with a penalty late in the first half but there was little change to the flow of traffic after the break. Carter restored the 16-point lead with his third penalty of the night after Bulls lock Juandre Kruger had needlessly taken out Andy Ellis off the ball.

The fly-half's fourth successful penalty was not long in coming after opposite number Steyn went high on the All Blacks' number 10.

The South African side enjoyed their best spell of the game around the hour mark and, after Carter had struck the post with another penalty shot, they got themselves over the Crusaders line to give them a glimmer of hope.

A well-controlled driving maul allowed flanker Potgieter to flop over the line, although Steyn could not add the testing touchline conversion. But Carter added two further penalties, either side of a consolation score from centre Olivier, to put the seal on the victory.

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