Sat, Apr 16, 2016 - Page 20 News List

New Zealand sides maintain form in Super Rugby games


Jaguares player Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias scores a try against the Canterbury Crusaders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Israel Dagg made a triumphant return to Super Rugby as the Canterbury Crusaders downed the Jaguares 32-15 in Christchurch yesterday, while across the Tasman Sea, the Wellington Hurricanes dispatched the Melbourne Rebels 38-13.

The 49-Test fullback scored a brace as the Crusaders ran in five tries to two for a bonus-point win that maintains the pressure in a tight New Zealand conference.

It was the sixth win on the trot for the seven-time champions and Dagg provided the impetus as the Crusaders raced to a 22-3 halftime lead, scoring one try and setting up another.

He followed up with a spectacular solo effort after the break to end hopes of a Jaguares revival, brushing off two defenders as he raced to the line.

The 27-year-old, discarded for last year’s World Cup then sidelined with a shoulder injury, is a contender for an international recall if he can maintain such blistering form.

It was the sixth defeat in a row for the Argentina-based side, even though they were nearly at full strength after squad rotations, leaving them with a single win so far in their debut season.

“We had a bad game, especially in the first half, but it’s part of our learning curve,” Jaguares assistant coach Felipe Contepomi said. “The Crusaders are one of the best teams in the competition and we made a lot of unforced errors.”

Andy Ellis scored the opening try, touching down after Dagg slipped him a pass.

The Crusaders then ran away with the match, notching two tries while Jaguares fullback Joaquin Tuculet was in the sinbin for slowing down play.

Dagg took advantage of the extra space for his first five-pointer, then Richie Mo’unga stripped the ball from Jeronimo de la Fuente for another to make it 19-3.

Facundo Isa clawed one back for the visitors after the restart, darting from the back of a maul then powering past Ellis.

The Crusaders restored their dominance with tries to Kieran Read and Dagg, although Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias crossed for a late consolation try.

In Melbourne, Australia, the Hurricanes scored six tries to two to brush aside the Rebels.

The win put them provisionally third on the overall table, with the Crusaders in second and the Waikato Chiefs in first.

The Otago Highlanders were fifth, while the Auckland Blues were the lowest-placed New Zealand side in 11th in the 18-team competition.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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