Crusaders win Twickenham thriller
New Zealand superstars Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams were too hot to handle as the Crusaders singed the Sharks with a blistering display of attacking rugby at Twickenham to secure a 44-28 victory.
The Crusaders had wrapped up a bonus point inside 33 minutes with tries from Carter, who finished with a personal haul of 22 points, wings Sean Maitland and Zac Guildford and full-back Israel Dagg.
Williams, who made his All Blacks debut at Twickenham in November, was the destroyer-in-chief with a potent mixture of power and panache that cut the Sharks midfield to shreds. Some of his offloads were outrageous.
The Crusaders surged into a 34-18 lead at the interval but the Sharks refused to concede defeat and hit back to secure a bonus point of their own.
Alistair Hargreaves and Odwa Ndungane added to first-half tries from Willem Alberts and Jacques-Louis Potgieter to bring the Sharks back within nine points.
Maitland's second try sealed the victory after another electric build-up as the Crusaders lived up to their promise of giving their earthquake-hit city of Christchurch the chance to smile.
This was the first Super Rugby match ever to be staged outside of the SANZAR nations. It was moved to Twickenham because of damage to the Crusaders' home AMI Stadium.
Christchurch, a city steeped in rugby history, was hit by an earthquake on February 22 which measured 6.3 on the Richter Scale and claimed at least 166 lives.
This match, which featured 25 internationals in the two starting line-ups, was the centrepiece to a week of fundraising for the Red Cross earthquake appeal. Donations from the 35,094 ticket sales alone will total £175,470.
Once the RFU have finalised their accounts from hosting the match, they will also be making a contribution to the appeal fund.