Brett delivers bitter blow to Force
March 11, 2011
The Hurricanes' John Schwalger celebrates a try during his side's victory over the Chiefs in Wellington © Getty Images
Force 22 - 22 Blues Hurricanes 29 - 26 Chiefs Stormers 18 - 6 Highlanders Melbourne Rebels 32 - 34 Sharks Crusaders 52 - 10 Brumbies
Replacement Stephen Brett held his nerve to land an injury-time penalty to deny the Western Force their first win of the season as the Blues rescued a 22-22 draw at the death in Perth.
The Force were leading 22-12 with five minutes remaining after James O'Connor had landed six kicks, including the conversion of Nick Cummins first-half try. But, after replacement Jono Jenkins was sin binned for the Force, the Blues reduced the deficit with a try from Keven Mealamu, which was coverted by Brett, and the replacement fly-half snatched the draw with a penalty from the 10 metre line.
After landing three penalties, O'Connor played a central role in Cummins' try on the stroke of half time, collecting his own chip ahead from deep and taking the Force to within five metres of the line. The Force were denied with their first surge for the try line, but they tied up the defence with successive drives before exploiting an overlap to the right wing with Sam Wykes putting Cummins over in the corner.
The try gave the Force a 16-9 advantage going into the second half after Luke McAllister had kicked three penalties for the Blues. O'Connor kicked two further penalties to McAllister's one to put the Force within touching distance of victory. But despite some impressive last-ditch defence from the Force, Mealamu eventually breached the lines before Brett delivered the final bitter blow.
The Hurricanes held on by their fingernails to see off a fast-finishing Chiefs outfit 29-26 in Saturday's New Zealand derby at Westpac Stadium.
The lead never extended beyond eight points in a tit-for-tat encounter and the home side had the accurate kicking of fly-half Aaron Cruden and his replacement Daniel Kirkpatrick to thank for victory after scoring two tries to the Chiefs' three.
Chiefs fly-half Stephen Donald opened the scoring with a 21st-minute try after a scoreless first quarter before Cruden hit back with a penalty and John Schwalger's try put the hosts ahead for the first time. A pair of Donald strikes from the kicking tee gave the Chiefs a 13-10 lead at the break and flanker Scott Waldrom scored to make it 18-10.
But the 'Canes then scored 18 unanswered points in the decisive period of the match, replacement Tyson Keats grabbing a try in the process. The Chiefs mounted their fightback with ten minutes to go but they took a penalty from close range when hindsight might have told them to go for a try. The Hurricanes, by this stage playing field position rugby, grabbed a crucial long-range penalty to Kirkpatrick to make the margin eight once more.
But the Chiefs were making yards with ease with ball in hand and Tim Nanai-Williams strolled over in the corner to reignite hopes with two minutes to go. Mike Delany's conversion attempt sailed wide, though, leaving the gap at three points. The Chiefs' attack progressed past halfway as the hooter sounded but they knocked on in their desperation, sending the Wellington fans home happy.
First-half tries by Lionel Mapoe and Derrick Minnie helped the Lions secure a first Super 15 victory of the season over the winless Cheetahs in Bloemfontein with a 25-20 win.
Elton Jantjies also kicked 15 points for the visitors, who were unlucky in their previous three games which they lost to the Bulls, Stormers and Blues. For the hosts Andries Strauss grabbed a solitary score while Sias Ebersohn kicked five penalties.
John Mitchell's men responded to a penalty from Ebersohn in style with an emphatic breakaway try, which saw Doppies La Grange cut his way through to the halfway line, before James Kamana took it further forward and off-loaded to Mapoe for his first score of the season.
Another breakaway led to Minnie crossing on the right corner after a well-timed off-load by Bandise Maku. Jantjies missed the conversion for a second time, but had already landed two penalties. Two minutes before the break Strauss ran in a first try for the Cheetahs after good interplay from their backs, but Jantjies kicked three penalties to Ebersohn's two in the second half as the Lions secured the win.
Sean Maitland grabbed four tries as the Crusaders crushed the Brumbies 52-10 in their clash in Nelson on Friday. The winger opened his account midway through the first-half and added a further three tries after the break to propel the home side to their second win of the campaign. The Brumbies led early on thanks to a try from fly-half Matt Giteau but his side's hopes were dealt a major blow shortly after when he was sin-binned for not rolling away at the breakdown. It was one-way traffic from that point on with Maitland and fly-half Dan Carter giving the Crusaders a 19-10 lead at the break.
Maitland grabbed his second early in the second half after some good work from Carter before centre Sonny Bill Williams extended the Crusaders' advantage with their third try. Maitland completed his hat-trick a few minutes later and he had his fourth just short of the hour mark. The lively Robbie Fruean then denied Brumbies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper a breakaway score before Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg set the seal on an impressive with his side's sixth try.
In the day's second game, The Sharks made it four wins from four with a highly-entertaining 34-32 bonus point victory over the Rebels at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Tries from Cooper Vuna and Julian Huxley helped the Rebels into an 18-13 lead at the break having fallen behind early on thanks to the work of the industrious Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis and fly-half Patrick Lambie.
Danny Cipriani's first Super Rugby try - a superb individual score - extended the Rebels' lead at the start of the second half but the Sharks hit back with a try through winger Lwazi Mvovo. The Rebels' hopes were dealt a blow when Vuna was yellow carded midway through the half but they held out only to succumb to Sharks pressure once he had returned to the fray. No.8 Ryan Kankowski powered over to level the scores and Lambie edged them in front before a wild pass from Cipriani laid the foundation for a Meyer Bosman try.
That score looked to have sealed the win for the Sharks but the Rebels rallied once more with flanker Jarrod Saffy burrowing over with a little help from his team-mates before Cipriani nailed a difficult conversion to give his side a lifeline. But they were unable to conjure a dramatic turnaround and had to settle for two bonus points.
In Friday's final game, the Stormers maintained their unbeaten start to the season and handed the Highlanders their first defeat of the campaign with a 18-6 victory at Newlands. Fly-half Peter Grant steered the hosts to victory with six penalties but a superb defensive effort laid the foundation for the victory and helped shackle the visitors.
Highlanders fly-half Robert Robinson weighed in with two penalties of his own but he missed three of his five attempts before being replaced by the evergreen Tony Brown early in the second half. Those missed kicks proved costly in a match where no tries were scored and the whistle of referee Steve Walsh was prominent as both teams struggled with discipline in vital areas of the field.
The Stormers led 12-6 at the break after Grant nailed four penalties and Robinson replied with two of his own. The second half scoring in a bruising encounter was limited to two Grant penalties. The Highlanders were quick out of the blocks and intent on playing at pace, but their admirable approach cost them at times with errors gifting the home team possession and territory. Still, it was the Highlanders who came closest to breaking the try deadlock midway through the first half, hooker Jason Rutledge ruled to be held up over the line by the television match official after replays proved inconclusive.
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