Bonus point wins for Crusaders, Rebels over SAfrican teams
Christchurch (New Zealand) (AFP)
Defending Super Rugby champions Canterbury Crusaders snapped a two-game losing streak as the Melbourne Rebels smashed the Coastal Sharks on Friday.
It proved a bleak night for South African teams with the Crusaders downing the Northern Bulls in a 33-14 bonus point win in Christchurch, while the Rebels crushed the Durban-based Sharks 46-14 in Melbourne.
The Crusaders scored five tries to two, including a brace for Jack Goodhue, making the most of wet conditions in a match that featured plenty of turnovers and handling errors.
The Rebels bounced back from the first defeat of the season to the NSW Waratahs last week, with a six tries to two thumping of the Sharks.
The Crusaders, coming off their first back-to-back losses in five years, welcomed back skipper Sam Whitelock and Ryan Crotty from injury.
"The conditions made the rugby pretty tight but we adapted as the game went on... at times the skills were great," Whitelock said.
It was the fourth loss in a row for the Bulls, who face a tough South African derby at home against Western Stormers next week.
It also means the Crusaders have not lost to the Bulls in Christchurch since 1996, a sequence that now extends to 11 consecutive home wins.
"It's been a difficult tour for us and there's a lot to work on when we go back home," Bulls captain Burger Odendaal said.
"But the boys can keep their heads up. I think we showed some great talent and just have to finish that off."
The Crusaders put themselves on the defensive by conceding four early penalties but the Bulls remained scoreless after repeatedly opting to run the ball rather than take three points.
After soaking up 15 minutes of pressure, the home side then scored off their first meaningful attack when Scott Barrett crossed after a lineout drive.
Referee Federico Anselmi initially ruled Barrett had not grounded the ball properly but the television match official overturned the decision and awarded the points.
Crusaders prop Tim Perry was sinbinned for a high tackle but it did not slow their momentum as Codie Taylor scored from another lineout drive.
However Perry's absence was felt when the Bulls got on top at scrum time, releasing winger Travis Ismaiel, who weaved around five players for a try.
Goodhue restored the Crusaders' 14-point buffer when he held off three defenders to barge over the line just before half time.
The centre then scored his second try eight minutes after the restart, going under the posts after a penalty put the Crusaders on attack.
Marco van Staden closed the gap for the Bulls but Crusaders wing George Bridge immediately hit back to secure the bonus point.
The Rebels wilted in searing temperatures in Sydney five days ago, as they let slip a 20-3 to lose 51-27 against the Waratahs.
But there was no second half fade out against the Sharks, as the Rebels registered their biggest winning margin and collect their fourth bonus point win of the season.
Not only did the 32-point win extend the Rebels lead in the Australian conference, but it also lifted the Melbourne side above the Lions on top of the standings.
Melbourne were in the early ascendancy and led 15-7 at halftime as the Sharks lost fullback Curwin Bosch to a yellow card for a deliberate knockdown to deny the Rebels a try.
But the Sharks held firm while Bosch was off the field and scored a try after some excellent support play set up winger Lwazi Mvovo to barrel over.
Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia darted over from the back of a ruck to initiate a run of second-half tries for the Rebels
Centre Billy Meakes, lock Ross Haylett-Petty and reserve prop Fereti Sa'aga added further tries, while centre Marius Louw scored a consolation try for the Sharks, who finish win-less in their Australian tour.
© 2018 AFP