BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa -- The Crusaders scored four of their six tries in the last 17 minutes to beat the Cheetahs 52-31 in Super Rugby with a powerful finish on Saturday. Wing Nemani Nadolo collected a hat trick.
Trailing by five points after 63 minutes, the Crusaders found late energy to subdue a Cheetahs team in a free-flowing 10-try game at Free State Stadium. Super Rugby's most successful team also made it two wins from two from its tour of South Africa, lifting it within range of the playoff places.
The Christchurch-based Crusaders led 26-10 after Nadolo went over for his first in the opening minute of the second half, benefiting from a slick offload out wide from fit-again No. 8 and captain Kieran Read. Cheetahs centre Johann Sadie inspired the home team's brief fight-back, setting up two of three tries for the strugglers in an eight-minute burst from the 50th.
But the seven-time champion Crusaders roared home at the end as tries from replacement Tom Taylor, flyhalf Colin Slade and two more from the rampant Nadolo sealed victory in style. Slade scored 25 points.
Sadie was the Cheetahs' best player, slicing through the midfield in the 17th to set up the game's first five-pointer for wing Cornal Hendricks. All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg replied for the Crusaders in the 28th, straight after a disallowed Cheetahs try, when he raced onto a chip through in the right corner.
Nadolo ran in his first straight from the kickoff after a Cheetahs error, and after Read committed two players and flipped a pass away to the big left wing. With Slade's conversion, the Crusaders led 26-10.
Sadie's chip and collect for the Cheetahs set up scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius' dash to the corner and replacement loose forward Teboho Mohoje then burst through two tackles and beat Dagg in a race to the line. Sadie's slick handling was responsible for Willie le Roux's try in the 59th and the Cheetahs then led 31-26.
They didn't score again.
Taylor followed up a surge by flanker Matt Todd to score in the 64th and Slade took a quick tap penalty and surged downfield before finding Nadolo with a long pass for the left wing's second four minutes later. Slade scored himself after a 50-meter run off a turnover and Nadolo ran in his hat trick try in the last minute.