Sat, Apr 27, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Crusaders solidify place on top as Bridge returns


Winger George Bridge yesterday returned from injury to score two tries within two minutes, lifting the Crusaders over the Lions 36-10 in Super Rugby.

Bridge scored 15 tries in competition last season, but has played only four matches this year because of a knee injury.

His form yesterday thrust him immediately into selection consideration for the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup squad.

Winger Sevu Reece also scored two tries and center Braydon Ennor added another in a match that left little doubt that the nine-time champions are the best team in Super Rugby.

“The Lions challenged us a few times tonight,” Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock said. “They got down in the corner, put pressure on us at the scrum and got some momentum. That’s something we knew they were going to do, but stopping that is really hard.”

The Crusaders needed only five minutes to score the opening try. Reece ran off the right wing and made a slick break in midfield, shrugging off a tackle and passing to center Ennor, who had an unobstructed run to the line.

When the Lions enjoyed their first extended spell in Crusaders’ territory, they earned two penalties from scrums. When the defense would not yield, flyhalf Elton Jantjes kicked a penalty.

The Lions’ defense responded superbly later in the half, when the Crusaders held the ball through 22 phases without being able to force a breakthrough.

Both sides made innumerable handling errors that stopped either achieving continuity.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders blew away the Sunwolves 52-0 in Tokyo.

The Sunwolves have not won any of their six home games this season.

The game was effectively over after the first quarter, after which the Highlanders led 26-0.

The Sunwolves could not handle the Highlanders’ scrum, kicking game and pace. The Highlanders led 33-0 at halftime, finished with eight tries and two more were disallowed.

The only concern for the Highlanders was replacement flyhalf Bryn Gatland, who was injured late and had to be carried off. The Highlanders finished with 14 men and it was not a problem.

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