Chiefs stun Crusaders, Brumbies edge Waratahs
SUPER RUGBY FRIDAY WRAP: There were wins for the Chiefs and the Brumbies on the opening day of the Super Rugby Pacific season.
The Chiefs have rallied from 0-10 down after 20 minutes to beat the defending champion Crusaders 31-10 in Christchurch and pull off the first upset of the season in the opening match.
Center David Havili scored the first try of the season in the 20th minute on Friday, and the conversion which followed a penalty by Richie Mo’unga gave the home side a 10-0 lead in front of a large crowd.
The Chiefs were able to stay in a mostly scrappy match and had cut the lead to 10-7 at half-time with a try to lock Brodie Retallick.
Second-half tries to captain Sam Cane, center Alex Nankivell and replacement Cortez Ratima put the Chiefs ahead 31-10, while the Crusaders mostly were locked in their own half or contained by the Chiefs’ defence.
New rules applied this season to speed up the game produced a faster game, though often at the expense of structure and the Chiefs adapted more quickly than the Crusaders.
The Christchurch-based Crusaders were forced to make a large number of tackles in the second half and missed too many, and were outscored 24-0.
“I thought we hung in there really well in the first half when we put ourselves under a bit of pressure,” Chiefs captain Cane said.
“I thought in the second half we got a lot of that right.
“A lot of belief in this team. We feel like we’ve been building for a couple of years so it’s a good start to our season.”
The Crusaders were on top early, winning the set piece battle and Havili scored when Cane was in the sin bin for a professional foul.
Retallick scored in the 33rd minute after a break by Shaun Stevenson set up an attacking line-out. Scrumhalf Brad Weber scooted through a gap and Retallick was on hand as he was throughout the match.
The Chiefs grabbed the lead in the 49th minute with Cane’s try and made the lead 21-10 when Nankivell dived over in the 60th.
Ratima made an outstanding break from a scrum to score under the posts when the Crusaders were down to 14 men and flyhalf Damian McKenzie made all of his kicks to accentuate the Chiefs’ advantage.
*Meanwhile, the Brumbies have gatecrashed the Waratahs’ homecoming to the new Sydney Football Stadium, edging their Super Rugby Pacific rivals in a 31-25 win.
In their first game at the venue in five years, the Waratahs were caught napping at key moments and Stephen Larkham’s Brumbies will head back down the highway with a hard-earned victory.
There was some solace for the 25 076 fans present on Friday, who got to witness the debut of highly-touted teenager Max Jorgensen.
The 18-year-old, who became the youngest Waratahs debutant since Kurtley Beale, grabbed two tries in a promising maiden outing at the top level.
A late penalty from Tane Edmed gave the home side a losing bonus point.
Crafty Brumbies No.9 Ryan Lonergan was the star of the show for the visitors, grabbing 16 of his side’s points – including the opening try – before being subbed off for Nic White in the second half.
Lonergan got his side in the lead when he backed up a pinballing run from Tom Wright, who was all too happy to exploit some sleepy Waratahs defence.
The Tahs quickly found themselves back level when Jorgensen was able to support a rampaging Angus Bell and shrug off the tackles of Rob Valentini and Alan Alaalatoa to cross in the 15th minute.
Edmed added the conversion, but Bell’s day was cruelled not long after due to a foot injury.
Lonergan and Edmed traded penalties before the hosts’ fate took a twist just before halftime when they switched off at a Brumbies penalty.
Lonergan shaped to kick to touch on the near side before finding an unmarked Andy Muirhead on the other side of the field.
The wing skipped past Jorgensen to give his side a 15-10 lead going into the break.
Lonergan added two penalties after the Brumbies had a try chalked off for a foot in touch, with Jorgensen squeezing in at the corner to give the Waratahs hope of sealing a comeback.
Brumbies wing Corey Toole and Waratahs skipper Jake Gordon traded tries, but a missed conversion from Edmed allowed the visitors to maintain a buffer.
Noah Lolesio, who converted Toole’s try, was able to add a further three points when Michael Hooper was penalised for not releasing at the breakdown.
Edmed was able to cut the deficit with a penalty goal in the dying stages to secure his side a losing bonus point.
Friday’s scores and scorers:
Crusaders 10-31 Chiefs
Tries: Cane, Nankivell, Retallick, Ratima
Cons: McKenzie 4
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Brodie McAlister, 17 George Bower, 18 Tamaiti Williams, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Macca Springer.
Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson,7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Pita Gus Sowakula, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 George Dyer, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 John Ryan, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Samipeni Finau, 21 Cortez Ratima, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Rameka Poihipi.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw
TMO: Shane McDermott
Waratahs 25-31 Brumbies
Tries: Jorgensen 2, Gordon
Cons: Edmed 2
Pens: Edmed 2
Tries: R. Lonergan, Muirhead, Toole
Cons: R. Lonergan Lolesio
Pens: R. Lonergan 3, Lolesio
Waratahs: 15 Ben Donaldson, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Max Jorgensen, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Charlie Gamble, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Taleni Seu, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Archer Holz, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Mahe Vailanu, 17 Tom Lambert, 18 Te Tera Faulkner, 19 Hugh Sinclair, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Will Harris, 22 Harrison Goddard, 23 Nemani Nadolo.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Blake Schoupp.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rhys van Nek, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Nic White, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Ollie Sapsford.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Jordan Way, David Conway
TMO: James Leckie