Sat, Mar 24, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Crusaders snap two-game losing streak


David Havili of the Crusaders, front right, gets a pass away as he is tackled by Bulls captain Burger Odendaal, front left, in their Super Rugby match in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Defending Super Rugby champions the Canterbury Crusaders yesterday snapped a two-game losing streak with a 33-14 bonus point win over the Northern Bulls in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Crusaders scored five tries to two, including a brace for Jack Goodhue, making the most of wet conditions in a match that featured plenty of turnovers and handling errors.

The Crusaders, coming off their first back-to-back losses in five years, welcomed back skipper Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty from injury.

“The conditions made the rugby pretty tight, but we adapted as the game went on... at times the skills were great,” Whitelock said.

It was the fourth loss in a row for the Bulls, who face a tough South African derby at home against the Western Stormers next weekend.

It also means the Crusaders have not lost to the Bulls in Christchurch since 1996, a sequence that now extends to 11 consecutive home wins.

“It’s been a difficult tour for us and there’s a lot to work on when we go back home, but the boys can keep their heads up,” Bulls captain Burger Odendaal said. “I think we showed some great talent and just have to finish that off.”

The Crusaders put themselves on the defensive by conceding four early penalties, but the Bulls remained scoreless after repeatedly opting to run the ball rather than take three points.

After soaking up 15 minutes of pressure, the hosts then scored off their first meaningful attack when Scott Barrett crossed after a lineout drive.

Referee Federico Anselmi initially ruled Barrett had not grounded the ball properly, but the TV match official overturned the decision and awarded the points.

Crusaders prop Tim Perry was sin-binned for a high tackle, but it did not slow their momentum as Codie Taylor scored from another lineout drive.

However, Perry’s absence was felt when the Bulls got on top at the scrum, releasing winger Travis Ismaiel, who weaved around five players for a try.

Goodhue restored the Crusaders’ 14-point buffer when he held off three defenders to barge over the line just before halftime.

The center then scored his second try eight minutes after the restart, going under the posts after a penalty put the Crusaders on the attack.

Marco van Staden closed the gap for the Bulls, but Crusaders wing George Bridge immediately hit back to secure the bonus point.

In yesterday’s other match, the Melbourne Rebels defeated the Sharks 46-14.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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