Laulala keeps Crusaders on top of the pile Down Under

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The Independent Online

Canterbury Crusaders beat their fellow New Zealand side Wellington Hurricanes 19-12 here to win the inaugural Super 14 final. Canterbury's outside-centre Casey Laulala scored the only try of a match played in thick fog, while their fly-half Dan Carter kicked four penalties and a conversion.

"We tried to keep it simple. We knew we had to keep it tighter. There were a few mistakes with the slippery ball... it wasn't pretty, but getting there was great," Canterbury's captain, Richie McCaw, said. "We kept our composure. We were really hungry on defence, we forced the turnovers and played it down their end of the paddock, and that was the key."

Scrum-half Piri Weepu and fly-half David Holwell landed one penalty each for the Hurricanes, while replacement Jimmy Gopperth booted two in the second half. The Hurricanes were still in the game at 9-9 with just 15 minutes to go when Laulala crashed over from close range to seal victory for the Crusaders.

"We're pretty disappointed with the result but we're very pleased with the way we went this year," Wellington's captain, Rodney So'oialo, said. "Both teams defended well but that try really cost us at the end."

The Crusaders won the old Super 12 title a record five times, including last year, and were the favourites to win the first expanded competition. They were unable to play their normal free-flowing game because of the weather but still dominated.