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Crusaders suffer shocking third defeat in a row

SATURDAY WRAP: The Canterbury Crusaders were stunned 10-20 by Fijian Drua on Saturday for a third straight defeat, equalling their worst start to a Super Rugby season.

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The seven-time defending champions fell away in the second half in Lautoka. The only other time the Crusaders have lost their three opening matches was the competition’s inaugural season back in 1996.

Captain Scott Barrett said the humid conditions in Fiji played a part in their error-ridden display, having led 10-0 at the 20-minute mark before the Drua took control.

“You give the Fijian Drua a sniff and they will really punish you,” Barrett said.

“We just weren’t sharp and clinical like we’d hope. We were clear on our game plan, it was pretty simple, but we just didn’t execute.”

A third straight defeat to start the season – against the previously winless Drua – piles the pressure on new coach Rob Penney.

Penney replaced Scott Robertson, who left to coach the New Zealand All Blacks after steering the Crusaders to the title in each of his seven seasons in charge.

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Penney’s side – shorn of several injured or departed All Blacks – opened their Super Rugby Pacific season by losing to the Waikato Chiefs, then the New South Wales Waratahs before also going down to the Drua.

Fijian-born Crusaders wing Sevu Reece put his side ahead with an early try but the scores were level 10-10 at halftime following a try to Drua wing Selestino Ravutaumada.

Fiji scrumhalf Frank Lomani crossed early in the second half and the home side held the upper hand for the remainder of the contest, completing the scoring with a late penalty goal slotted by flyhalf Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula.

It was the Crusaders’ second straight loss to the Drua in Fiji, having been beaten 24-25 at the same Churchill Park venue last year.

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– Source @AFP

*The Brumbies have overcome a poor first half to beat the Force 22-19 at Canberra Stadium.

In their round-three Super Rugby Pacific clash on Saturday, the Brumbies flirted with rare back-to-back defeats before finding 22 straight points to set up their narrow 22-19 victory.

Force wing Harry Potter scored five minutes from time to set up a thrilling finish, but desperate Brumbies defence saw them cling on.

Flyhalf Ben Donaldson couldn’t get the job done off the kicking tee, missing a vital penalty goal and a conversion attempt in the final 15 minutes to help his opponents hang on.

The below-par Brumbies performance kept the struggling Force in the contest, but they threw away a handy lead for a second week running.

After conceding 29 straight points last weekend to lose 34-48 to Melbourne, the Perth-based side led 14-0 in Canberra, but were then brushed aside.

The win steadied the Brumbies’ campaign at 2-1, moving forward well from a 12-46 thrashing at the hands of the Chiefs.

Local fans expected a bounce-back performance after the Brumbies’ worst defensive performance in seven years last weekend against the Chiefs, but they looked uninspired and clunky throughout the first half.

That allowed the Force to skip 14-0 clear behind 20 minutes of simple rugby, with wing Hamish Stewart and flank Michael Wells finding the line.

The typically clinical Brumbies looked a shell of their usual selves in a sloppy opening quarter-hour, completing just one of their first four lineouts while getting busted up in contact.

Stewart crossed to cap a move Donaldson started with power running, before Wells bruised his way over from close range.

A rare moment of Brumbies attacking flair from centre Tamati Tua got his side on the board on the half-hour, with scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan the beneficiary of a nice link-up.

A Noah Lolesio penalty got them back within a converted try at 14-8.

The Force had looked to skip 21-8 clear on the stroke of halftime, but had wing Potter’s try called back for an obstruction on Brumbies lock Darcy Swain, in a massive let-off for the home side.

Potter copped a yellow card less than a minute into the second half for taking out Swain contesting a high ball, and the Brumbies cashed in, grabbing the lead through No.8 Rob Valetini.

Bench hooker Billy Pollard then drove his way over the line on 55 minutes to extend the advantage.

Discipline was a huge problem for the Force, conceding a whopping 15 penalties to the Brumbies’ four.

*The Hurricanes have kept their undefeated start to the Super Rugby Pacific season intact with a clinical 29-21 win over the Blues at Wellington’s Sky Stadium on Saturday evening.

Without Jordie Barrett, who has been suspended for three weeks, the men from the capital came to play as they ran in four tries to the Blues’ three.

Fullback Ruben Love was especially brilliant, while the Blues were made to pay after rolling the dice with a 6-2 split on the bench after two outside backs left the field early.

Both teams put their undefeated records on the line.

The match was a bit of a seesawing affair to begin with. While the Hurricanes may have looked more threatening overall, it was the Blues who risked breaking the game open early on.

*The Reds produced another stunning upset win against the Chiefs, seeing off the Super Rugby Pacific powerhouses 25-19 in a statement performance.

After snapping their 21-game, 10-year losing streak on New Zealand soil against the Chiefs late last season, the Reds doubled down with another famous victory on Saturday night.

The heroic Reds stood up when it mattered most, denying the Chiefs a late winner after the Kiwi side camped on their line in a three-minute, 23-phase drive.

A bright start to the reign of new coach Les Kiss now boasts a 2-1 record as the Reds rebounded in style from last weekend’s heartbreaking golden point defeat against the Hurricanes.

All Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Fijian Drua 20-10 Crusaders

For Fijian Drua:
Tries: Ravutaumada, Lomani
Cons: Ravula 2
Pens: Ravula 2

For Crusaders:
Try: Reece
Con: Kemara
Pen: Kemara

Teams:

Fijian Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Epeli Momo, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Meli Derenalagi (c), 7 Vilive Miramira, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Ratu Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Jone Koroiduadua, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Haereiti Hetet
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Livai Natave, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Elia Canakaivata, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Junior Ratuva

Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 David Havili, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Taha Kemara, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dominic Gardiner, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett (c), 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 George Bell, 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Ioane Moananu, 17 Kershawl Sykes-Martin, 18 Seb Calder, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Tahlor Cahill, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Jone Rova, 23 Riley Hohepa

Brumbies 22-19 Force

For Brumbies:
Tries: Lonergan, Valetini, Pollard
Cons: Lolesio 2
Pens: Lolesio

For Force:
Tries: Stewart, Wells, Potter
Cons: Donaldson (2)

Teams:

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio,9 Ryan Lonergan (c), 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Luke Reimer, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Darcy Swain, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Sosefo Kautai, 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Rhys Van Nek, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Jahrome Brown, 21 Klayton Thorn, 22 Declan Meredith, 23 Ollie Sapsford

Force: 15 Max Burey, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Bayley Kuenzle, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Nic White, 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Jeremy Williams (c), 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Ryan Coxon
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Charlie Hancock, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Tim Anstee, 20 Lopeti Faifua, 21 Ollie Callan, 22 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 23 George Poolman

Hurricanes 29-21 Blues

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Moorby 2, Naholo, Higgings
Cons: Cameron (3)
Pen: Cameron

For Blues:
Tries: Telea, Eklund, Riccitelli
Cons: Perofeta 3

Teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor (cc), 12 Riley Higgins, 11 Kini Naholo, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 Cam Roigard, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Peter Lakai, 6 TK Howden, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Tucker, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua (cc), 1 Tevita Mafileo
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Pasilio Tosi, 19 Caleb Delany, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Salesi Rayasi

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (c), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 James Tucker, 4 Tom Robinson, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ofa Tuungafasi
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Cameron Suafoa, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Stephen Perofeta

Reds 25-19 Chiefs

For Reds:
Tries: Faessler, McReight, Flook
Cons: Lynagh, McLaughlin-Phillips
Pen: Lynagh, McLaughlin-Phillips

For Chiefs:
Tries: Ioane, Stevenson
Pens: McKenzie 3

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suli Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Isaac Henry, 11 Mac Grealy, 10 Tom Lyngah, 9 Tate McDermott (cc), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (cc), 5 Ryan Smith, 4 Seru Uru, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Sef Fa’agase
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Cormac Daly, 20 John Bryant, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, 23 Tim Ryan

Chiefs: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Daniel Rona, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Luke Jacobson (c), 7 Simon Parker, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Tupou Vaa’i, 3 George Dyer, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Wallace Sititi, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Josh Jacomb, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

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