Crusaders and Reds survive scares
Brisbane (Australia) (AFP)
Defending Super Rugby champions Canterbury Crusaders have maintained their nearly three-year undefeated streak at home after snatching an upset 21-21 draw with Coastal Sharks in Christchurch on Friday.
In the following match, the Queensland Reds had some anxious moments against the embattled Sunwolves before capitalising on the ill discipline of their opponents to win 32-26.
The Crusaders scored three tries to nil, but Sharks' super-boot Curwin Bosch sent over seven penalties to give the South Africans hope against the defending champions.
"It showed character for the boys to be in there and build phases, but at the same time we made a lot of mistakes," Crusaders back Mitch Hunt said.
The Sharks nabbed the first points with a Bosch penalty but the home side soon responded through a Codie Taylor converted try.
The Sharks continued to notch up the points through another two penalties, putting them up 9-7 at half-time.
Bosch's accuracy with the boot continued to pay dividends, extending the lead to 12-7 soon after the restart.
But Jack Goodhue powered through some fierce defence to narrow the gap to 15-14.
Bosch continued to kick three-pointers but the Crusaders staged a late rally, with Hunt's late converted try a fortunate leveller for the Crusaders.
The resurgent Reds were expected to easily account for the bottom-placed Sunwolves in Brisbane, but the Japanese team was keen to atone for an embarrassing 52-0 loss to the Highlanders in their previous outing.
The Sunwolves led 13-8 at half-time and might well have caused an upset against a wasteful Reds side, but their poor discipline cost them dearly and they were at least a man down for more than half the game.
The visitors had two players sin-binned in the first half, and another three in the second, playing a large chunk of the last 10 minutes with just 12 men.
In the 50th minute the visitors, who were still leading, found themselves a man down for the remainder of the match after Semisi Masirewa was shown a red card.
Masirewa had earned a yellow card late in the first half, and received a second one for a high tackle, ending his match and leaving the gallant Sunwolves short-handed.
The Reds immediately capitalised with a high kick across field from Bryce Hegarty, finding winger Sefa Naivalu all alone for an easy try as the home team took a 25-16 lead.
Against all odds, the Sunwolves regained the lead in the 67th minute through a second Gerhard Van Den Heever try.
However, Yu Tamara was sent off in the 70th minute and then Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco was also shown a yellow card in the 76th minute, effectively ending their hopes of an upset.
Reds captain Samu Kerevi praised the Sunwolves, but was unimpressed with his own team's performance despite notching their fifth win.
"To be honest, that's not how we wanted to play it out," he said.
"Pretty disappointed with how we performed.
"I thought we could have taken more opportunities, we need to be better."
Sunwolves skipper Luke Thompson was understandably gutted after the loss.
"It's a shame it ended up that way, we did everything we could to win the game and it got taken away from us," he said.
"I was pretty proud of the way the boys dug in today."
? 2019 AFP