The counterattacking skills of the Wellington Hurricanes knocked defending champions the Waikato Chiefs out of the Super 15 top six with a stunning 45-8 victory yesterday.
The long-range specialists ran in six tries for a bonus-point win that propelled them up to fourth place on the tightly packed leader board, where only four points separate the second-placed New South Wales Waratahs and now-seventh Chiefs.
The Hurricanes, bouncing back from a loss to the Otago Highlanders last week, have now won six of their past eight games after starting the year as one of the least-fancied sides.
They laid the groundwork for the rout playing into the wind in the first half when they stunned the Chiefs with three tries that originated inside their own half.
Despite the Hurricanes leading the competition in clean breaks and defenders beaten, the Chiefs seemed unprepared for their ability to attack from afar.
As the tries mounted against them, the confidence waned in the two-time champions Chiefs, whose reputation for piling on the points in the second half was left in tatters and their brief scoring run completed very early in the match.
Not even the return of flyhalf Aaron Cruden, after a lengthy spell sidelined with a broken thumb, could ignite the Chiefs.
In his battle with Barrett to determine who will be named next weekend as the All Blacks pivot in place of the unavailable Dan Carter, it was Barrett who made the most of his chances and converted all six tries.
Battling into a stiff southerly breeze in the first half, the Hurricanes toyed with the stilted Chiefs defense, with Andre Taylor scoring first, ending a 60m move ignited by All Blacks wing Julian Savea.
Fellow All Blacks flyer Corey Jane sparked the second try from inside the Hurricanes’ half before offloading to Barrett, who took play up to the line where prop Ben Franks loomed up to finish the move.
Center Alapati Leiua started off the third try-scoring move, which Savea finished off.
The Chiefs, who had used the wind to kick for territory in the first half, had scant reward, with only a penalty to Gareth Anscombe and a try to Liam Squire during his brief cameo as a blood-bin replacement for Sam Cane.
After a Barrett penalty extended the lead to 24-8 soon after halftime, Savea scored the bonus-point try from another long-range effort in which Barrett, twice, Jane and Leuia all handled in a move that swept half the field.
The Hurricanes then showed that they could score from close range with forwards Jack Lam and Brad Shield both driving over.
CRUSADERS V HIGHLANDERS
AFP, DUNEDIN, New Zealand
The Canterbury Crusaders recovered from their shock loss to the Coastal Sharks last week to snatch a desperate 32-30 victory over the Otago Highlanders in a frenetic local derby yesterday.
The outcome of the match hinged on a video replay after Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne dived over in an Israel Dagg tackle after the final hooter.
After multiple replays, the TV match official ruled the ball had touched the sideline and tryline simultaneously, and the try was disallowed, leaving the Crusaders elated and the Highlanders distraught.
Both sides scored a four-try bonus point in the high-stakes encounter to remain in the top six, with the Crusaders provisionally moving to the top of the New Zealand conference.
FORCE V LIONS
AP, PERTH, Australia
Captain Matt Hodgson scored his second double of the season to help the Western Force to a 29-19 win over the Golden Lions yesterday, clinching a club-record eighth win this year and lifting the Force to second place in the Australian conference.
Hodgson scored the Force’s first try in the 35th minute and their fourth and final, bonus-point try two minutes from fulltime. Three tries _ two to the Force and one to the Lions _ came in a frenzied last five minutes.
Until then, the match had been notable for the solidity of the Lions defense.
Though the Force had huge advantages of territory and possession, they struggled to score tries until the Lions were reduced to 14 men late in the first half.
“Road Runner” Alphonso Davies lived up to his nickname with another lightning sprint on Saturday as Bayern Munich opened a 10-point lead in the Bundesliga. Having defeated second-placed Borussia Dortmund 1-0 away in midweek, Bayern enjoyed a 5-0 romp over Fortuna Duesseldorf. Defender Mathias Joergensen scored an early own-goal before Benjamin Pavard, Robert Lewandowski (2) and Davies scored for Bayern. With five games remaining, the defending champions, who have won their past eight league games, are comfortably on course for an eighth straight league title. Davies scored the best goal of the game when the fleet-footed defender pressed Duesseldorf into making a mistake, barged
The losing captain thanked the winning team’s players for their personal sacrifices leading into the match and a charter flight pilot received a big round of applause when his plane beat incoming fog to touch down after midnight following another game as feel-good stories off the field matched those on it as the National Rugby League (NRL) restarted its season in Australia over the weekend. The New Zealand Warriors’ 18-0 win over St George Illawarra was the Auckland-based team’s first of the season after three rounds and it could not have come at a better time. Due to international travel restrictions
Taiwan Steel celebrated a big win over Tatung in the Taiwan Premier League yesterday, while undefeated Taichung Futuro remained at the top of the table, although their lead is only one point. Four of the eight teams were in action, completing matches postponed the previous weekend due to rain, with Taipower and Hang Yuan playing out a scoreless draw in Kaohsiung. Taiwan Steel are sorting out their early-season problems as they chase the leaders and it showed against defending champions Tatung at the Jhubei Stadium in Hsinchu County. Haitian striker Benchy Astama netted a brace and midfielder Kuo Po-wei’s outstanding solo effort sent
DISTANCING RULES: The government said social distancing should be maintained during disputes and celebrations, but conceded it would not be possible during play The Premier League on Saturday was given British government approval to press ahead with its June 17 restart, although players will have to stay apart during goal celebrations and disputes to maintain social distancing. Further details of the league’s plans for dealing with COVID-19 cases have been disclosed with clubs likely to have to play even if they only have 15 fit squad members. In a further boost to the league’s restart plans, there were no positives in the fourth round of twice-weekly testing. Tests were conducted on 1,130 players and club personnel on Thursday and Friday as contact training resumed. The season