Sun, Apr 23, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Otago Highlanders trounce Sunwolves

CRUSADERS THUMP STORMERS:The hosts notched their eighth win of the campaign with the help of a first-half hat-trick from George Bridge in a 57-24 victory

Reuters and AP, WELLINGTON and CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand

Sam Whitelock, center, of the Canterbury Crusaders tries to break a tackle during their game against the Western Stormers at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Center Matt Faddes scored a brace of tries as the Otago Highlanders cruised to a bonus-point 40-15 victory over the Sunwolves in their Super Rugby match in Invercargill yesterday.

Faddes touched down twice in an eight-minute burst after halftime as the 2015 champions notched their fourth straight win to shore up their place in the playoffs berths.

Malakai Fekitoa, Liam Squire, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith also crossed, with Marty Banks converting five of the home side’s six tries.

After an early penalty by flyhalf Yu Tamura, the visitors were kept scoreless for nearly 50 minutes, but grabbed consolation tries to Willie Britz and Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco late in the game.

Appearing in disarray after the opening rounds of the season, the Highlanders have now clicked into gear and their potent backline cut the Sunwolves to pieces in the middle part of the match.

Coming off a bye, they were rusty early and were kept scoreless in the final quarter, leaving captain Ben Smith feeling lukewarm about the performance ahead of a crunch match against the Cape Town-based Stormers.

“It wasn’t perfect and at times we threw a few miracle balls and didn’t show them the respect, so there’s a bit to work on,” Smith said. “We’ve got a home game [next] against the Stormers, so we’ll have to fix a few things up.”

The Sunwolves were on the back foot from the third minute, with a bungled line-out leading to a turnover and center Fekitoa crossing for the first try after being put into a hole by winger Waisake Naholo.

Ben Smith put the last points on the board for the Highlanders with a pick-and-go try before the Sunwolves’ late rally.

No. 8 Britz broke through the Highlanders’ line deep in attack and shrugged off a tackle to cross for the Sunwolves’ first try.

Replacement loose forward Warren-Vosayaco later touched down at the right corner after collecting a neat, lofted pass from Tamura.

In Christchurdch, winger George Bridge scored three first-half tries as the Canterbury Crusaders overwhelmed South Africa’s Stormers 57-24 to stretch their winning start to the Super Rugby season to eight matches.

After the Stormers managed only a penalty from a period of early dominance, Bridge scored his hat-trick between the 13th and 32nd minutes, during a spell in which the Crusaders showed sublime handling and passing skills.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read, who played only 40 minutes before being subbed, scored two tries as the Crusaders opened an insurmountable 36-3 lead by halftime.

The Stormers came back strongly in the second half with tries to wingers Cheslin Kolbe and Bjorn Basson to cut the lead to 36-17, but the Crusaders monopolized possession and added tries to Mike Alaalatoa, Pete Samu and Manasa Mataele.

In Australia, the Waikato Chiefs beat the Western Force 16-7.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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