Sun, Jun 03, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Crusaders consolidate lead, Waratahs defeat Reds

AFP, BRISBANE, Australia

A late Luke Romano try yesterday ensured the table-topping Canterbury Crusaders downed the Waikato Chiefs 34-20 in their Super Rugby clash while the New South Wales Waratahs won a 15-try derby extravaganza.

It was a double celebration for the Crusaders, as they strengthened their lead in the competition with their 10th consecutive win and marked the record 200th appearance and 199th Super Rugby game by long-serving prop Wyatt Crockett.

The Waratahs regained their lead in the Australian conference with a free-flowing 52-41 win over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane after the Melbourne Rebels had earlier topped the conference with a 20-10 win over the Auckland Blues.

For the Crusaders it was an anxious final 30 minutes of the game after Luke Jacobson’s second try saw the Chiefs close to 27-20 at the 50-minute mark.

However, the champions’ defense held to deny the Chiefs a potentially match-leveling try. With two minutes remaining, Romano drove over to put the result beyond doubt and extend the Crusaders competition lead to nine points over the Wellington Hurricanes.

The Crusaders, already without injured Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty, were forced into a late reshuffle when Jack Goodhue and Jordan Taufua were ruled out.

Despite the disruptions they dominated the opening 20 minutes and jumped to a 10-3 lead from a converted try to Heiden Bedwell-Curtis while All Blacks flyhalf rivals Richie Mo’unga and Damian McKenzie traded penalties.

“All the boys that came in, there were late changes, and credit to those boys. They’ve worked hard back home and when they got the opportunity they took it,” captain Matt Todd said, crediting the Crusaders’ line-out as a key difference.

“We put a lot of work into that during the week and it’s pleasing when we can get points out of it,” he added.

Jitters hit the Crusaders midway through the first half, allowing the Chiefs to strike back with tries in quick succession to Sean Wainui and Jacobson. That forced the Crusaders to resort to their trump card, a dominant forward pack, which allowed them to control the remainder of the half.

The Waratahs responded to the Rebels’ second-ever win in New Zealand with a try-scoring spree, with Wallaby star Israel Folau scoring a double among his team’s eight tries.

The Reds led early, but the Waratahs proved their dominance to lead 40-19 early in the second before Queensland scored two late tries.

The total of 93 points was the most scored in an Australian Super Rugby derby.

“Offensively fantastic, we were able to walk in some tries, but on the flip side of that, the Reds walked some in at the back end as well, so glad we got the win,” Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said.

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