The Canterbury Crusaders bounced back from a loss last week with a ruthless 32-19 victory over the Waikato Chiefs in Super Rugby Aotearoa yesterday to be on the verge of sealing the title.
Poor discipline by the Crusaders allowed the Chiefs to stay in touch with a string of penalties in the first 60 minutes, but as they so often do, the Crusaders pulled away in the final quarter, although with a question mark over one of their late tries.
The Super Rugby champions for the past three seasons until the COVID-19 pandemic brought this year’s competition to a halt, they need only one more win with two games to play to claim the New Zealand domestic title.
A week ago, after a loss to the Wellington Hurricanes, there were questions about how the Crusaders would handle defeat.
“We had a real honest review, looked in the mirror and said we didn’t front up last week and knew what we were coming up here for,” captain Codie Taylor said. “I’m just really proud we came up here and put on a good show. It was a hell of an arm wrestle and a couple opportunities we took and that’s what it’s about.”
While the Crusaders have played six and won five, the Chiefs have played and lost seven.
“It hurts,” captain Sam Cane said, listing a yellow card just before halftime and a disputed second-half try as key moments. “We’ll look at those two moments and how we can better, but credit to the Crusaders, it was a tough battle.”
The Crusaders outscored the Chiefs five tries to one, but they conceded 13 penalties with Damian McKenzie kicking four to keep the Chiefs in touch.
Tom Sanders and Will Jordan scored the first two tries as the Crusaders raced to a 12-0 lead.
The Chiefs opened their account by targeting a Crusaders strength when they opted for a scrum when awarded a penalty 8m from the line. They held their own against the powerful Crusaders pack and Lachlan Boshier burrowed over from close range.
A minute from halftime, Chiefs wing Shaun Stevenson was yellow-carded and from the resulting penalty the Crusaders mounted a lineout drive producing a try to Taylor.
McKenzie landed three penalties to one by Richie Mo’unga in the third quarter as the Chiefs narrowed the margin to 19-20, but with 20 minutes remaining the Crusaders pulled away.
After several replays the television match official approved a try to Sevu Reece, despite Chiefs’ protestations that there had been a knock on, and then Leicester Fainga’anuku touched down to seal the outcome.
In Super Rugby AU, the ACT Brumbies downed the Queensland Reds 22-20.
Additional reporting by staff writer
An influx of soccer players to India from Australia has highlighted changing fortunes as the Indian Super League (ISL) flourishes and the A-League hits lean times during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just two Australians played in the Indian Super League last year, but 10 were among the 11 teams when the competition got under way in a bio-secure “bubble” in Goa last week. Non-Australian A-League players have also made the move, including English striker Adam Le Fondre — last season’s second-highest goal-scorer with Sydney FC — along with German defender Matti Steinman and Aaron Holloway of Wales. Much of the change is down to
‘YOU’RE CHAMPIONS’: Pope Francis told the NBA delegation that they had become models of teamwork, while remaining humble and preserving their own humanity Pope Francis on Monday met with NBA players at the Vatican, lauding them as “champions” and saying he supported their work on social justice. The five players — Marco Belinelli, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver — were joined in the delegation by National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and two other union executives, Sherrie Deans and Matteo Zuretti. “We’re here because, frankly, we’re inspired by the work that you do globally,” Roberts told the pope during the meeting in the Vatican Apostolic Library. The union said that the players spoke about their “individual and collective efforts addressing
TRYLESS ENCOUNTER: Australia’s Jordan Petaia came closest to scoring a try as Argentina remained unbeaten after a battle of penalties between Sanchez and Hodge Argentina yesterday battled back to earn a brutal 15-15 Tri Nations draw in a messy game against Australia, reinforcing their credentials after an epic win against the All Blacks last week. The Pumas looked in trouble when they slipped nine points behind in the second half in Newcastle, north of Sydney, but the golden boot of Nicolas Sanchez rescued them to keep the tournament wide open. After his 25 points against New Zealand, he again bagged them all, with his Australia opposite number Reece Hodge missing a penalty in the dying minutes to secure a win for the Wallabies. Mario Ledesma’s side came
‘ONE LAST APPLAUSE’: An homage of cheers resounded through Buenos Aires on Wednesday night, while earlier a contingent met at the Obelisk to remember their hero Stunned Argentines were on Wednesday plunged into grief by the death of the country’s favorite son Diego Maradona, a sublimely gifted sporting hero they saw as “the most human of gods.” The news fell like a hammer blow to a nation beaten down by months of economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, but one where soccer is seen as a panacea for all ills. At 10pm, Buenos Aires exploded in cheers, horns, sirens and lights for the man who famously wore the No. 10, after a viral social media message called for “one last applause.” The homage resounded throughout the night in all