The counterattacking skills of the Wellington Hurricanes knocked defending champions the Waikato Chiefs out of the Super 15 top six with a stunning 45-8 victory yesterday.
The long-range specialists ran in six tries for a bonus-point win that propelled them up to fourth place on the tightly packed leader board, where only four points separate the second-placed New South Wales Waratahs and now-seventh Chiefs.
The Hurricanes, bouncing back from a loss to the Otago Highlanders last week, have now won six of their past eight games after starting the year as one of the least-fancied sides.
They laid the groundwork for the rout playing into the wind in the first half when they stunned the Chiefs with three tries that originated inside their own half.
Despite the Hurricanes leading the competition in clean breaks and defenders beaten, the Chiefs seemed unprepared for their ability to attack from afar.
As the tries mounted against them, the confidence waned in the two-time champions Chiefs, whose reputation for piling on the points in the second half was left in tatters and their brief scoring run completed very early in the match.
Not even the return of flyhalf Aaron Cruden, after a lengthy spell sidelined with a broken thumb, could ignite the Chiefs.
In his battle with Barrett to determine who will be named next weekend as the All Blacks pivot in place of the unavailable Dan Carter, it was Barrett who made the most of his chances and converted all six tries.
Battling into a stiff southerly breeze in the first half, the Hurricanes toyed with the stilted Chiefs defense, with Andre Taylor scoring first, ending a 60m move ignited by All Blacks wing Julian Savea.
Fellow All Blacks flyer Corey Jane sparked the second try from inside the Hurricanes’ half before offloading to Barrett, who took play up to the line where prop Ben Franks loomed up to finish the move.
Center Alapati Leiua started off the third try-scoring move, which Savea finished off.
The Chiefs, who had used the wind to kick for territory in the first half, had scant reward, with only a penalty to Gareth Anscombe and a try to Liam Squire during his brief cameo as a blood-bin replacement for Sam Cane.
After a Barrett penalty extended the lead to 24-8 soon after halftime, Savea scored the bonus-point try from another long-range effort in which Barrett, twice, Jane and Leuia all handled in a move that swept half the field.
The Hurricanes then showed that they could score from close range with forwards Jack Lam and Brad Shield both driving over.
CRUSADERS V HIGHLANDERS
AFP, DUNEDIN, New Zealand
The Canterbury Crusaders recovered from their shock loss to the Coastal Sharks last week to snatch a desperate 32-30 victory over the Otago Highlanders in a frenetic local derby yesterday.
The outcome of the match hinged on a video replay after Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne dived over in an Israel Dagg tackle after the final hooter.
After multiple replays, the TV match official ruled the ball had touched the sideline and tryline simultaneously, and the try was disallowed, leaving the Crusaders elated and the Highlanders distraught.
Both sides scored a four-try bonus point in the high-stakes encounter to remain in the top six, with the Crusaders provisionally moving to the top of the New Zealand conference.
FORCE V LIONS
AP, PERTH, Australia
Captain Matt Hodgson scored his second double of the season to help the Western Force to a 29-19 win over the Golden Lions yesterday, clinching a club-record eighth win this year and lifting the Force to second place in the Australian conference.
Hodgson scored the Force’s first try in the 35th minute and their fourth and final, bonus-point try two minutes from fulltime. Three tries _ two to the Force and one to the Lions _ came in a frenzied last five minutes.
Until then, the match had been notable for the solidity of the Lions defense.
Though the Force had huge advantages of territory and possession, they struggled to score tries until the Lions were reduced to 14 men late in the first half.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017