Dan Carter celebrated his new All Blacks contract by kicking 20 points as the Canterbury Crusaders stifled the Waikato Chiefs 25-19 in their Super Rugby clash in Napier yesterday.
The flyhalf, who this week signed a deal to stay with the All Blacks and Crusaders after this year’s World Cup, notched up five penalties, a conversion of Luke Romano’s try, a cheeky drop-goal, as well as the best line break of the game.
The injury-hit Crusaders were upset by the Cheetahs last time out on a bruising tour of South Africa, but moved to within six points of the table-topping Queensland Reds, who they meet next weekend in Brisbane.
The Chiefs were kept in the game by Stephen Donald’s four penalties, but only threatened the Crusaders line when it was too late, flanker Liam Messam forcing his way over for a consolation try.
The first 40 minutes were a tight, tense affair with Carter and his sometimes All Blacks understudy Donald slotting two penalties apiece, Carter’s second tying the score up at 6-6 with the last kick of the half.
Lock Romano broke the deadlock with a rampaging run soon after the break, coming into the Crusaders back line at an angle and crashing through a couple of Chiefs’ tacklers to touch down.
Carter added the conversion and another penalty minutes later to give the Crusaders a 10-point lead which they never looked like relinquishing.
“A few of us were running on empty in that first half,” Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw said in a televised interview.
The Chiefs lacked the invention to breach the Crusaders defense despite a back line sprinkled with All Blacks, and Carter punished them with his boot every time they infringed.
Donald at least converted Messam’s try with the last kick of the game to ensure they got a bonus point, but their chances of making the playoffs are slim at best.
WARATAHS 29, LIONS 12
The New South Wales Waratahs responded to a lambasting at a fans forum during week with a rampaging five-try first half performance to give them a victory over South Africa’s Lions yesterday.
Torn apart by fans critical of their lack of adventure on Thursday, the Waratahs largely eschewed the tactical kick as Berrick Barnes orchestrated some fluent back play to secure the four-try bonus point inside half an hour.
They added a fifth try before the break and, despite failing to add to their halftime tally in front of just 14,000 fans at the Sydney Football Stadium, remain comfortably in the playoff positions with four rounds remaining.
The Lions, who upset the two-time champions ACT Brumbies last week, were hammered 73-12 in Sydney last year and would have been delighted to keep the score down after the Waratahs’ blistering start.
Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale opened the scoring after three minutes and although a Butch James grubber-kick put flying fullback Jaco Taute in for a try to tie the score up five minutes later, the rest of the half was all Waratahs.
Quick hands down the back line put winger Sosene Anesi over the line in the corner for the first of his tries after 22 minutes and a delicate chip from Barnes found Beale, who looped a pass for center Ryan Cross to grab a third try.
After the Lions lost Deon van Rensburg to the sin-bin, New Zealander Anesi crossed for his second, before another superb Barnes kick allowed 19-year-old replacement winger Tom Kingston to put the home side 29-5 up after 36 minutes.