Sat, Feb 15, 2020 - Page 16 News List

Crusaders crush Blues as Waratahs find more misery

AFP, WELLINGTON

The Canterbury Crusaders yesterday returned to winning ways with a clinical victory over the Auckland Blues, but there was more misery for the Waratahs, who crashed to a third successive defeat.

Super Rugby’s defending champions, coming off a shock loss to the Waikato Chiefs last week, scored three tries to one in a dominant 25-8 display at Eden Park, extending their winning streak over the hosts to 11 matches.

In a wet Melbourne, the Rebels posted their first win of the season, outlasting the Waratahs 24-10 to heap extra pressure on new coach Rob Penney and his struggling team, who have leaked 99 points in three matches.

The Blues last won against 10-time champions the Crusaders in early 2014, but coach Leon MacDonald — desperate for success against the club that he represented for 12 years — was talking up their chances before the match.

Patrick Tuipulotu helped the Blues make a strong start, spinning out of a tackle to score the opening try when Stephen Perofeta’s chip-kick opened up the defense.

The Crusaders hit back when wing George Bridge gathered a Jack Goodhue offload and crossed in the 27th minute.

They were unlucky not to get another when Sevu Reece broke through a few minutes later, with only a last-gasp tackle from Perofeta restricting the Crusaders’ lead to 11-5 at halftime.

Tries to Richie Mo’unga and Goodhue after the break saw the Crusaders race to a 25-8 lead, with a Will Jordan effort ruled offside.

The Blues tried to rally, but the Crusaders’ defense held them out.

In Melbourne, the Waratahs’ dire season continued and they remain anchored to the bottom of the Australian conference.

They lost a lot of experience after last season and are still trying to find their feet under Penney.

Despite winning 15 of their previous 17 Super Rugby clashes with the Rebels, including the past six, they were no match at AAMI Park.

Matt Toomua gave them an early lead with a penalty, but it was the Rebels making territory and winger Marika Koroibete crashed over for the first try on 14 minutes.

Wallabies stalwart Reece Hodge went off injured clutching his right thigh, but unfazed they kept pressing and Ryan Louwrens had a try disallowed when his boot touched the sideline.

Another try was ruled out for obstruction just before halftime, as they went to the break leading 8-3.

The Waratahs returned fired up and powered over for a try six minutes after the restart, with Harry Johnson-Holmes dotting down and Harrison adding the conversion.

However, two more Toomua penalties gave the Rebels the edge and when Andrew Kellaway dived over after an intense 17-phase buildup with six minutes left, there was no way back.

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