Sun, Feb 24, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Crusaders in record run; Waratahs fight off Sunwolves

AFP, WELLINGTON

The Crusaders’ George Bridge, center, scores against the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby game in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: AP

The Canterbury Crusaders juggernaut yesterday stormed to a record 17th consecutive Super Rugby victory, while Israel Folau made history by becoming Australia’s top try-scorer in the competition.

The dominant defending champions demolished the Wellington Hurricanes 38-22 to overtake the previous record of 16 wins, also set by the Crusaders in the 2005-2006 season, and extend a streak that stretches back to losses away to the Hurricanes and Otago Highlanders a year ago.

In Tokyo, Folau bagged two tries to take his career Super Rugby total to 58 as the New South Wales Waratahs scraped past Japan’s Sunwolves 31-30, while the ACT Brumbies steamrolled to their first win of the season with a 54-17 thrashing of the Waikato Chiefs in Canberra.

The Crusaders scored six tries to three and held an impressive 24-0 lead at halftime in a largely one-sided encounter in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the score distorted by two late Hurricanes tries when the result was beyond doubt.

For most of the game, the Crusaders feasted on stolen lineout ball, Matt Todd dominated the breakdown and their All Blacks-laden pack kept the Hurricanes eight under constant pressure.

Todd, the Crusaders skipper, said that the dominant first half was the making of the game.

“We came out with the attitude to attack and we scored some good tries, which was pleasing. The second half got a bit messy,” he said after extending their impressive home run to 21 matches without a defeat in three years.

Two of the Crusaders’ tries to Scott Barrett came when they departed from their renowned lineout drive and used a new tactic of peeling off to move play infield.

Hurricanes skipper Dane Coles described it as “a good, old-fashioned lesson in how to play Super Rugby. They’ve set the benchmark.”

The Hurricanes, champions in 2016 and semi-finalists for the past two years, received few chances, and those they did get were quickly nullified.

The new lineout move for the Crusaders saw Barrett open the scoring in both halves. Richie Mo’unga also scored twice, while Jordan Taufua and George Bridge got on the scoresheet.

As the game loosened up in the second half, the Hurricanes came back with two early tries to Ben Lam and Wes Goosen.

The Crusaders responded with Bridge touching down before Lam and TJ Perenara added two more for the Hurricanes.

In Japan, Folau was a constant threat as the Waratahs survived a nail-biter against the Sunwolves, who are fighting for their Super Rugby lives.

The Wallabies star surpassed countryman Joe Roff and drew level with Caleb Ralph on 58 Super Rugby tries, one short of another New Zealander, Doug Howlett, who scored 59 between 1997 and 2007.

Sunwolves flyhalf Hayden Parker had a chance to snatch a late victory, but his drop goal attempt went wide.

“We tried to score some Harlem Globetrotter tries,” said Waratahs captain Michael Hooper after the Sydney-based side’s five-try performance.

“That’s not what you want to do — you want to build pressure, but credit to the Sunwolves,” he added. “They capitalized on our mistakes and kept us under pressure.”

The Brumbies, minus star flanker David Pocock, who was concussed last weekend, ruined All Black Brodie Retallick’s 100th Super Rugby game in a dominant display.

The home team scored five first-half tries to take control and snap a four-game losing streak against the Chiefs for their first win of the season, after a defeat to the Melbourne Rebels last weekend.

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