Reds power past Rebels
May 7, 2011
The Crusaders celebrate Wyatt Crockett's first try in Cape Town © Getty Images
The Reds returned to winning ways with a 33-18 bonus-point victory over the Rebels in their clash in Melbourne on Friday.
A week after their narrow loss to the Hurricanes, the play-off chasing Reds recorded their ninth win of the campaign thanks to tries from flanker Scott Higginbotham, No.8 Radike Samo, replacement Dominic Shipperley and winger Digby Ioane. After the Rebels' Julian Huxley and the Reds' Quade Cooper exchanged early penalties, Higginbotham struck against the run of play with a barn-storming run to the line. Samo then extended the visitors' advantage but the Rebels hit back with a try from fly-half James Hilgendorf only to lose their playmaker to an ankle injury sustained in the process.
Cooper's third penalty put the Reds into a commanding lead soon after and scrum-half Will Genia delivered a neat cross-field kick for Shipperley to score just before the break. The Rebels showed signs of life with a try from replacement Afusipa Taumoepeau just before the hour mark but Ioane pounced to restore his side's advantage with Cooper claiming his second conversion. The battling hosts grabbed a third try through winger Peter Betham but there was to be no dramatic late rally.
The Blues withstood a desperate late assault from the Hurricanes to claim a 17-11 victory over the Hurricanes in their clash in Wellington. Deep into injury time, Hurricanes replacement scrum-half Tyson Keats had the chance to atone for a moment of ill discipline which appeared to have cost his side the match, but his lunge for the line was met with strong defence to force him to spill the ball.
Had Keats scored he would have given Hurricanes fly-half Aaron Cruden the chance to win a match with his boot for the second time in a week, but Blues substitute Chris Smylie did enough to force the ball free and deny him and cement his side's place at the top of the New Zealand Conference. Keats had earlier spent 10 minutes off the field after his dangerous tackle on Blues scrum-half Alby Mathewson left referee Jonathan Kaplan no option but to produce the yellow card. What made it more unpalatable for the home side was that it came after they had edged into an 11-9 lead thanks to a try from Rico Gear and conversion from Cruden.
Blues kicker Lachie Munro, who finished with 12 points, landed the ensuing penalty and then Mathewson made the Hurricanes pay by darting over after a lineout drive with 14 minutes left. But the Blues were never able to put away the Hurricanes and the final five minutes were spent camped deep in their own territory defending their line.
A brace of tries from prop Wyatt Crockett helped the Crusaders to a fine 20-14 victory over the Stormers at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Crockett claimed the first of his scores with just eight minutes on the clock. Fly-half Lionel Cronje reduced the Stormers' arrears with a penalty and the hosts then moved ahead when centre Jaque Fourie dived over at the tail end of the opening quarter. Matt Berquist reclaimed the lead for the Crusaders with a penalty only to see Cronje respond in kind on 34 minutes to give the Stormers the narrowest of leads at the interval.
The lead changed hands twice more in the early stages of the second half as Berquist and Cronje exchanged penalties once again but the Crusaders made the decisive breakthrough on 64 minutes when Crockett forced his way over the whitewash for a second time.
The Stormers poured forward in the closing stages in search of the converted try which would have won them the game but despite the sin-binning of Crusaders replacement Tom Marshall in the dying seconds, the visitors held on to claim a priceless win.
Also on Saturday, the Sharks came from 13 points down to defeat the Brumbies 34-16 at Kings Park in Durban.
The visitors had hit the ground running and, after two early penalties from fly-half Matt Giteau, centre Christian Lealiifano crossed on 20 minutes for the game's opening try. Patrick Lambie replied with two quick-fire penalties for the home side but Giteau's fourth successful strike on goal of the opening half saw the Brumbies reach the break ten points up.
However, it was one-way traffic after the interval as the Sharks ran riot, running out easy winners courtesy of tries from JP Pietersen, Steven Sykes, Adrian Jacobs and Anton Bresler.
The Waratahs scrapped to a 20-15 victory over the Western Force in Sydney to move into the top six.
In a poor match the home side fought back from a three-point half-time deficit thanks to the work of their pack and a piece of well-time opportunism from former Force centre Ryan Cross. James O'Connor kicked three first-half penalties for the visitors to establish a 9-6 lead at the break, Kurtley Beale landing the Waratahs' points, before Cross swung the game.
The former Wallaby followed up when a Beale penalty clipped a post, snatching the ball from the air and crashing over amid some confusion from his former team-mates. Beale converted but O'Connor slotted two kicks to give his side a 15-13 lead heading into the latter stages. On 69 minutes a surge from the Waratahs pack allowed hooker John Ulugia to burrow over, with the TMO confirming the score and with it a home win.
Aiding the 'Tahs' cause were the Chiefs, who further dented the Highlanders' play-off hopes with a 20-7 victory at Waikato Stadium.
In a game riddled with errors the home side rallied after the break to inflict back-to-back defeats on their southern rivals, who led 7-6 at the break thanks to a converted try from hooker Jason Rutledge. The Chiefs waited only three minutes of the second half to bite back, with All Black scrum-half Brendon Leonard exploiting some poor fringe defence to score from close range.
The Highlanders pushed for the winning score but could not find a cutting edge, Liam Messam compounding their woes by diving over two minutes from time, with the Highlanders' defence at a ruck again letting them down.
The Highlanders also suffered in the injury stakes, with flanker Adam Thomson suffering a rib knock just before half-time and James Paterson a shoulder injury. The Chiefs were not spared either, as fly-half Stephen Donald and openside flanker Scott Waldrom (shoulder) left the field prematurely in their much-improved second-half effort.
The Cheetahs made it two wins on the bounce with a 53-19 demolition of Super Rugby's basement boys, the Lions, at Ellis Park on Friday evening.
Remarkably, it was the Lions who had scored the game's opening try, flanker Josh Strauss crashing over nine minutes in response to two early penalties from Cheetahs fly-half Sias Ebersohn. However, another brace of penalties from Ebersohn moved the visitors 12-7 ahead and they stretchered their advantage when inside centre Corne Uys touched down just before the half-hour mark.
Ebersohn converted and then stroked over another penalty before the Cheetahs effectively put the game beyond their hosts when fullback Riaan Viljoen and outside centre Robert Ebersohn dotted in the final two minutes of the first half.
After Cheetahs fly-half Ebersohn had kicked his sixth penalty of the game within 60 seconds of the re-start, the visitors sealed the bonus point when Viljoen crossed again on 64 minutes. The Lions responded in kind just over a minute later through replacement Michael Rhodes but the Cheetahs were not done and Viljoen racing through to complete his hat-trick with just over two minutes to play.
The Lions had the final say, with Martin Bezuidenhout flopping over with the last play of the game but that offered scant consolation for a side which has now lost ten of its 11 games this season.
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