Cru­den gets a try as Chiefs prove too strong for Hur­ri­canes

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

JAMES LOWE scored a 64th-minute try fol­low­ing a sear­ing break from Shaun Steven­son to break a tense stale­mate as the Waikato Chiefs beat the Hur­ri­canes 17- 14 in Welling­ton yes­ter­day to wrap up Su­per Rugby ac­tion be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break.

Aaron Cru­den also scored a first-half try for the vis­i­tors, with full­back Damian McKen­zie slot­ting two con­ver­sions and a penalty.

Lock Vaea Fi­fita scored an early try for the home side with re­place­ment winger Wes Goosen cross­ing with three min­utes re­main­ing to give the home side hopes of a late come­back but to no avail. Full­back Jordie Bar­rett added two con­ver­sions.

The ma­jor­ity of the match was char­ac­terised by sev­eral off- the ball in­ci­dents and su­perb de­fence by the Chiefs, who also had to play part of the sec­ond half with 14 men with Michael Al­lardice sin­binned for a dan­ger­ous charge.

Cru­den, who was named in Steve Hansen’s All Blacks squad on Thurs­day for the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions se­ries, suf­fered a knee in­jury shortly be­fore half­time and did not ap­pear in the sec­ond half.

The com­pe­ti­tion now takes a three-week break for the in­ter­na­tional win­dow with all but New Zealand, due to the Lions tour, play­ing test matches on Satur­day.

Much of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, how­ever, has been over­shad­owed by the de­ci­sion to cull three teams, two from South Africa and one from Aus­tralia, for next year.

The Aus­tralian Rugby Union (ARU) said in April that ei­ther the West­ern Force or Melbourne Rebels would be cut from the com­pe­ti­tion, prompt­ing a bit­ter tus­sle with the two sides that is yet to be re­solved.

On the field, the New Zealand teams have dom­i­nated the com­pe­ti­tion, with all five of their sides ranked in the top seven based on over­all points.

The Can­ter­bury Cru­saders lead the over­all ta­ble with 63 points af­ter win­ning all 14 of their games so far, with the Hur­ri­canes on 54, just ahead of the Chiefs on 53. The Otago High­landers are on 46 with all four sides al­ready con­firmed for the play­offs.

The Auck­land Blues (37) have been ruled out be­cause of the con­vo­luted con­fer­ence sys­tem, with the ACT Brumbies (33) hav­ing sealed the Aus­tralian ti­tle and guar­an­teed a spot.

Such has been the dom­i­nance of the New Zealand sides that they have suf­fered just two losses to teams from other coun­tries, with both the Chiefs and Blues be­ing beaten in Cape Town by the Storm­ers, who lead the Africa 1 con­fer­ence on 30 points.

The bat­tle for trans-Tas­man supremacy has also been heav­ily skewed in New Zealand’s favour with their sides hold­ing a com­bined 23-0 record against Aus­tralian teams, with just two games re­main­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion.

South Africa’s Lions, last year’s beaten fi­nal­ists, how­ever, loom as the great­est threat to a New Zealand side from win­ning the coun­try’s 15th ti­tle in 22 years.

Warren White­ley’s side have taken the South African group by the scruff of the neck this year with a fast­paced at­tack­ing game and sit sec­ond on the over­all ta­ble with 56 points.

They have a 14- point ad­van­tage over their Africa 2 con­fer­ence ri­vals the Sharks, who they host in Johannesburg in both side’s fi­nal game on July 16.

Both the South African sides, how­ever, have had the ad­van­tage of not play­ing any New Zealand teams this year and could po­ten­tially come un­done in the play­offs.

Last year the Storm­ers did not play any New Zealand side in the reg­u­lar sea­son and were ham­mered 60-21 by the Chiefs in the first round of the play­offs in Cape Town.

The reg­u­lar sea­son will re­sume on July 7 with the sides from the South African group and Aus­tralia, while the New Zealand teams will re­join in the last round of games the fol­low­ing week. – Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.