Crusaders 31 Stormers 24

Cory Flynn puts in a big fend.

Cory Flynn puts in a big fend. Photo: Getty Images

Fledgling fly-half Tom Taylor ignited the Crusaders Super Rugby campaign when they brought the Stormers unbeaten run to a halt with a 31-24 victory on Saturday.

MATCH STATS

Although the Stormers outscored the Crusaders two tries to one, they were punished by Taylor for a high penalty count in their frustration to stem the Crusaders attacks.

In his first season of Super rugby, Taylor also created a problem for the Crusaders over what to do with acclaimed fly-half Dan Carter.

Carter was moved to inside centre against the Stormers in what was supposed to be a one-off change to shore up the midfield against the acclaimed South Africans.

However, with the master on one side and All Blacks halfback Andy Ellis on the other, Taylor stole the show as he coolly steered the Crusaders around the park and scored all their points from a converted try and eight penalties.

"If he keeps kicking points like that we'll keep him there," captain Kieran Read said of the 23-year-old son of 1987 World Cup winning All Black Warwick Taylor.

Carter also looked comfortable playing in the number 12 jersey for the first time in seven years, with his positional kicking providing the Crusaders with an answer to the feared close-quarter Stormers defence.

In what was the most complete game of the season for the seven-times champions, the Crusaders pulled off their fourth win while a late penalty ensured the Stormers gained a consolation bonus point from their first loss.

Although the Stormers, who have never beaten the Crusaders at home, remain at the top of the table they could be overtaken later this weekend by the Waikato Chiefs if they beat the Central Cheetahs.

Taylor scored the Crusaders only try in the first half when a turnover ball won by Ben Franks went wide through four sets of hands to Corey Flynn on the wing who drew the defence before an in pass put the fly-half over the line.

The conversion and four penalties lifted the Crusaders to a 19-13 lead at half-time with the Stormers' points coming from a try to Juan de Jongh converted by Joe Pietersen and penalties by Pietersen and Peter Grant.

The Stormers were also ailing after losing both locks Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth early in the game.

Pietersen and Taylor traded further penalties early in the second half before Bryan Habana closed the gap to one point after a 30-phase build up in which the Crusaders defence proved as stout as the Stormers.

Halfback Dewaldt Duvenage eventually found a way through with a smart kick to the corner for Habana to pounce on.

Pietersen missed the conversion that would have given the Stormers the lead and from there the Crusaders pulled away with a further three Taylor penalties.

CRUSADERS 31 (Tom Taylor try con 8 pens) bt STORMERS 24 (Juan De Jongh, Bryan Habana tries Joe Pietersen con Peter Grant 2, Pietersen 2 pens) at Christchurch Stadium. Referee: Chris Pollock.

AFP