Sun, Jul 16, 2017 - Page 10 News List

’Canes end Crusaders’ run, Sunwolves sink the Blues

Reuters and AFP, WELLINGTON and TOKYO

NSW Waratahs player Hugh Roach, center, passes to teammate Taqele Naiyaravoro, right, during their match against the Western Force at NIB Stadium in Perth, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Jordie Barrett slotted a 78th-minute penalty yesterday as the Wellington Hurricanes recorded a 31-22 victory to end the Canterbury Crusaders quest for a perfect season.

The loss ended the Crusaders hopes of becoming the first side to record a perfect regular season since their class of 2002 achieved the feat.

They ended with a 14-1 record.

It also ensured the Hurricanes would only need to travel to Canberra for the quarter-finals next week, with the Waikato Chiefs heading to Cape Town to face the Stormers.

The Chiefs beat the Brumbies 28-10 earlier in Hamilton and put pressure on the Hurricanes to win and move back into the fifth-seeding for the playoff matches.

The match between the two local rivals at Wellington Regional Stadium had been expected to be intense, with numerous All Blacks teammates facing off in the game with massive consequences.

The Hurricanes were forced into major shakeup of their backline immediately before the game with flyhalf Beauden Barrett a late withdrawal due to illness, while Vince Aso was injured during the warmup.

Otere Black came off the bench to play flyhalf, Jordie Barrett moved from fullback to center, Nehe Milner-Skudder switched to fullback from the wing and Wes Goosen moved to the right wing from the bench.

The Crusaders took advantage of that late shakeup with Seta Tamanivalu grabbing two tries inside the first 13 minutes as the Hurricanes looked disorganized on defense.

The home side slowly worked their way back into the game as the Crusaders fell foul of referee Glen Jackson.

The Crusaders fast defensive line, which had kept the home side at bay, finally cracked when Jordie Barrett crossed from a well-worked backline move that saw his side go into the break trailing 12-7.

Julian Savea gave the Hurricanes the lead just after the break when he tapped down a Black cross-kick and snapped up the bouncing ball, before Richie Mo’unga gave the Crusaders the lead again with the first penalty kick of the game.

The visitors then extended the lead when Israel Dagg exploited the revamped backline with Jordie Barrett rushing out of the line.

The Hurricanes refused to buckle and Goosen crossed from an attacking scrum, before Vaea Fifita kept his feet in play when he went over in the corner.

The Chiefs’ win over the Brumbies completed New Zealand’s Super Rugby rout over Australian-based sides this season.

The result in the final round of the regular season gave New Zealand-based teams a 25-0 winning record against teams from across the Tasman, the first such clean sweep.

In Tokyo, Japan’s Sunwolves stunned the Auckland Blues 48-21 to finish a second chastening Super Rugby season on a high note.

Boosted by a Timothy Lafaele hat-trick, the home side posted only their second win of the campaign, erasing a seven-point halftime deficit with a pulsating comeback as Auckland faded badly in the blistering Tokyo heat.

“You can’t take anything for granted in this competition,” Blues coach Tana Umaga said. “I’ve got to look at myself and the way I help prepare this team. It’s probably symptomatic of our season. They just wanted it more. That’s all down to attitude.”

In Perth, Australia, the Western Force made their final pitch for retention in the competition with a 40-11 win over the New South Wales Waratahs.

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