Christchurch (New Zealand) (AFP)
The Canterbury Crusaders escaped with a 31-29 victory over the ACT Brumbies as a Clinical Blues crushed the Melbourne Rebels to maintain New Zealand’s dominant start in the trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition on Saturday.
After 19-7 at halftime in Christchurch, the Brumbies fought back and had the chance to snatch a draw when Rob Valetini scored in the last game of the game, only for Noah Lolesio to send the conversion to the left amounts.
The narrow victory followed the Otago Highlanders overtaking Australian champion Queensland Reds while the Wellington Hurricanes beat the NSW Waratahs in a rollercoaster of 17 tries on Friday.
The Rebels were looking to record back-to-back wins over the Blues for the first time in Super Rugby, but were completely passed in a cold Melbourne, dropping 50-3 to underline the challenge facing Australian teams against their Kiwi counterparts.
While the contest between New Zealand champion Crusaders and the Brumbies, who finished second in AU Super Rugby, had its tough times, it was largely a matter of mess until a ruthless finish that produced four tests in the last 20 minutes.
“We had tired legs last week, but you can’t blame him,” Crusaders midfielder David Havili said. “It’s a new competition and we have to step up. It was not good enough but we came away with the victory. “
Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said their mindset was to attack from the start and it was frustrating to finish just short.
“I’m really proud of the effort, especially the fight we showed in the second half to get us back into the game,” he said.
“But obviously the boys are disappointed with the loss. We came here to win. “
The Crusaders attacked with the whistle until the defense was so strained that Ethan Blackadder was able to run 22 yards for the first down.
And when the Brumbies scored a converted try against Scott Sio to take a 7-5 lead, the Crusaders immediately countered with Richie Mo’unga shaking three defenders to score, then Havili followed with a 40-yard interception try. .
In the third quarter, a try from Irae Simone converted by Lolesio, who also added a penalty, reduced the gap to 19-17.
But the Crusaders came back with converted tries to Brendon O’Connor and Cullen Grace to lead 31-17, only for the Brumbies to control the final minutes which produced tries for Tom Banks and Valetini.
In Melbourne, the Blues dominated territory and possession in the six unbalanced tries to win nothing.
After a rambling start, Otere Black managed a penalty to put the Blues in the lead only for Matt To’omua to quickly level the scores.
Too many scrums had to be reset, slowing the action down, before Black directed two more penalties through the posts.
Blues full-back Zarn Sullivan converted a long-distance penalty and their relentless pressure finally paid off with the passing of Tom Robinson after the hooter for their opening tried to send them to the break with a lead from 17-3.
They dismantled the Rebels in the second stanza, revealing the home team’s defensive weaknesses. Great No.8 Hoskins Sotutu burst in for two tries, while Akira Ioane, AJ Lam and Rieko Ioane each caught one.
© 2021 AFP