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Drua knocks Crusaders out of Super Rugby play-offs

SATURDAY WRAP: The Fijian Drua overwhelmed the Melbourne Rebels 40-19 to snatch the last Super Rugby quarterfinal berth and end the play-off hopes of perennial champions the Crusaders.

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Later in the day, the Blues booked top spot in the standings with an emphatic 31-17 win over the Chiefs at Eden Park.

The result ensured the Blues edge the Hurricanes in first place going into the play-offs, while the Chiefs remain fourth.

* In the other early match on Saturday, the Hurricanes secured a top-two finish with a 41-14 demolition of the Highlanders in Wellington.

The win ensured Hurricanes claimed homeground advantage in at least the first two rounds of the play-offs.

While the Highlanders came out of the gates firing, Jordie Barrett rallied his troops with an early speech and the Hurricanes never looked back, running out to a 41-14 win.

* In front of a vocal crowd in Lautoka, the Drua took command with three tries early in the second half to notch a bonus point win that lifted them to seventh, matching their finishing position last year.

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The Rebels will finish eighth, meaning they’ll play the first play-off match in their 14-season history in next week’s quarterfinals, against the top qualifiers.

It could also be the last match the Rebels play, after Rugby Australia rejected a private bid to take over the debt-laden franchise on Thursday and said it would be shut down.

It ends an uncharacteristically poor season for the 13-time champion Crusaders, who won the last seven straight titles under new All Black coach Scott Robertson but have failed to fire under his successor, Rob Penney.

A 43-10 win over Moana Pasifika on Friday – their fourth win from 14 games – kept the Crusaders in contention.

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However, they will miss the quarterfinals by two points, just the second time they’ve failed to advance to the play-offs since 2001.

After his team’s match, Penney said he wasn’t confident the Drua would be toppled in Lautoka, where they are unbeaten this year.

“We shouldn’t be relying on other teams,” Penney added.

“We are a better team than that, and for some reason or another we didn’t get across the line in other games.”

The Crusaders’ play-off hopes were firmly alive at half-time, with the scores locked at 19-all.

However, the Drua delivered a dagger in the 12 minutes after the interval, scoring thrilling tries through wings Waqa Nalaga and Selestino Ravutaumada and scrumhalf Frank Lomani.

There was no more scoring for the remainder of the match, mirroring the even nature of the first half.

Nalaga scored the game’s opening try but the Rebels struck back with a penalty try – created by a dominant scrum – and crossed again through Andrew Kellaway and Josh Canham.

Outside backs Ilaisa Droasese and Iosefo Masi responded with tries for the Drua before the break.

All of Saturday’s scores and scorers are below

Fijian Drua 40-19 Rebels

The scorers

For the Fijian Drua
Tries: Nalaga 2, Droasese, Masi, Ravutaumada, Lomani
Cons: Ravula 3, Muntz 2

For the Melbourne Rebels
Tries: Kellaway, Canham, Penalty try
Cons: Strachan, penalty try does not require a conversion

Teams

Fijian Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Kemu Valetini, 11 Waqa Nalaga, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Meli Derenalagi (captain), 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Zuriel Togiatama, 17 Livai Natave, 18 Samu Tawake, 19 Isoa Nasilasila, 20 Motikiai Murray, 21 Elia Canakaivata, 22 Simione Kuruvoli, 23 Caleb Muntz.

Rebels: 15 Mason Gordon, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Filipo Daugunu, 12 David Feiluai, 11 Darby Lancaster, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Rob Leota (captain), 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Josh Canham, 4 Angelo Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Isaac Kailea.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Dobbins, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Maciu Nabolakasi, 21 James Tuttle, 22 David Vaihu, 23 Jake Strachan.

Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Dan Waenga, Mike Winter
TMO: Richard Kelly

Hurricanes 41-14 Highlanders

The scorers

For the Hurricanes
Tries: Rayasi 3, Kirifi 2, Perenara, Iose
Cons: Cameron 3

For the Highlanders
Tries: Whaanga, Holland
Cons: Gilbert 2

Teams

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett (captain), 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Tucker, 3 Pasilio Tosi, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Justin Sangster, 20 Peter Lakai, 21 Jordi Viljoen, 22 Riley Higgins, 23 Bailyn Sullivan.

Highlanders: 15 Finn Hurley, 14 Connor Garden-Bachop, 13 Matt Whaanga, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Ajay Faleafaga, 9 James Arscott, 8 Nikora Broughton, 7 Billy Harmon (co-captain), 6 Max Hicks, 5 Fabian Holland, 4 Will Tucker, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Ethan de Groot (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Saula Ma’u, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Hayden Michaels, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Jake Te Hiwi, 23 Martín Bogado.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Reuben Keane, George Myers
TMO: Brett Cronan

Blues 31-17 Chiefs

The scorers

For the Blues
Tries: Riccitelli, Sotutu 2, Telea, A Ioane
Cons: Plummer 3

For the Chiefs
Tries: Ross, Tupaea, J Ioane
Con: McKenzie

Teams

Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Tele’a, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 AJ Lam, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Taufa Funaki, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Cameron Suafoa, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Corey Evans, 23 Cole Forbes.

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Emoni Narawa, 13 Daniel Rona, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Wallace Sititi, 7 Luke Jacobson (captain), 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 3 George Dyer, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Sione Ahio, 19 Simon Parker, 20 Kaylum Boshier, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Quinn Tupaea.

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw
TMO: Glenn Newman

Western Force 19-24 Brumbies

The scorers:

For Western Force:
Tries: Tizzano, Fines-Leleiwasa, Poolman
Con: Kuenzle 2

For Brumbies:
Tries: Alaalatoa, Toole, Wright
Pen: Lolesio
Cons: Lolesio 2, Debreczeni

Teams

Western Force: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 George Poolman, 13 Bayley Kuenzle, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Ronan Leahy, 10 Max Burey, 9 Nic White, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Jeremy Williams (captain), 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Ryan Coxon.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Marley Pearce, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Lopeti Faifua, 20 Will Harris, 21 Michael Wells, 22 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 23 Sam Spink.

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Billy Pollard, 1 Blake Schoupp.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Vella, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Ollie Sapsford.

Referee: Jordan way
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Jordan Kaminski
TMO: James Leckie

* Sources: AAP & AFP

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