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Hapless Crusaders sink further into the abyss

SUPER RUGBY SATURDAY WRAP: The hapless Crusaders sunk to a new Super Rugby low on Saturday with the Blues handing them their fifth successive defeat.

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A Crusaders side weakened by injuries and departed stars had no answer to the more physical Blues, who ended a seven-match losing streak against the visitors at Eden Park with a 26-6 win.

It was a sobering result for the winless seven-time defending champions, who trailed 6-9 at half-time but dropped from contention when they conceded converted tries to Ofa Tu’ungafasi and A.J. Lam soon after the interval.

The only two tries of the game, both came while scrumhalf Willi Heinz was off the field, having been shown a yellow card for a professional foul.

It was the heaviest loss of the season for the Crusaders, whose new coach Rob Penney has struggled to find the winning formula of his predecessor Scott Robertson, who has departed to take charge of the All Blacks.

Captain David Havili lamented a mistake-riddled performance and high missed-tackle count.

“We just couldn’t build any pressure and a settled team like the Blues make you pay for it. They did that in the second half,” Havili said.

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“The effort’s there, it’s just those big moments that we can’t execute and it’s costing us.”

The Blues won seven of the Crusaders’ 13 line-out throws and flyhalf Stephen Perofeta – who kicked 16 points – said their set piece advantage proved critical in wet conditions.

“We just wanted to make it real simple this week. The Crusaders have dominated the physical battle, that set piece battle, every year that they’ve been successful,” Perofeta said.

Chiefs hold off Highlanders

The Chiefs joined the Blues on four wins from five following their 28-21 win over the Highlanders in another all-New Zealand derby.

After scoring the first four tries of the match in Hamilton, the Chiefs had to withstand a fierce second-half fightback from the Highlanders.

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The visitors earned a bonus point by crossing twice in the closing stages after Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.

Drua pip Waratahs in Super golden-point thriller

Meanwhile, Kemu Valetini landed a drop goal in sudden death extra time on Saturday to lift the Fijian Drua to a thrilling 39-36 Super Rugby win over the Waratahs.

The Drua claimed their first-ever victory over the Australian side, achieving it in the ninth minute of extra time after the scores were locked 36-36 at full-time in Lautoka.

Playing with 14 men after scrumhalf Peni Matawalu was shown a yellow card early in the extra time period, the home side swept downfield and Valetini slotted the winning three points.

It was the second major win the Drua have secured on home soil this season, having upset the Crusaders two weeks earlier.

Midfield back Iosefo Masi scored a first-half hat-trick to power the Drua to a 26-10 lead at half-time.

It continued Fijian international Masi’s prolific form, having scored twice in their loss to the Chiefs a week earlier, and he now tallies 14 tries from 19 Super Rugby matches.

The visiting Waratahs defied hot, humid conditions to fight back in the second half, helped by a second try to hooker Mahe Vailanu before flank Lachlan Swinton scored in the 68th minute to level the scores.

While the Drua improved their record to two wins from five matches, the Waratahs boast just a solitary win.

Force upset Reds

The Western Force have unleashed a six-try blitz to stun the Reds 40-31 in Perth.

The Force entered Saturday’s match with no wins from four starts and with coach Simon Cron declaring the time for talk was over.

The Force raced out to a 21-0 lead inside 32 minutes on Saturday and were ahead 40-19 with 16 minutes to go, before the Reds launched a late fightback.

Queensland (three wins and two defeats) slipped from second to fifth.

“It was unreal,” Force captain Jeremy Williams said of the win.

“We were very disciplined, and we were very patient when we were holding the ball.

“We executed well. Our defence for the most part was really good.

“It’s pretty special. To see all the stuff we’ve been doing at training replicated on the paddock was good.”

See below for Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Blues 26-6 Crusaders

The scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Tu’ungafasi, Lam
Cons: Perofeta 2
Pens: Perofeta 4

For Crusaders:
Pens: Hohepa 2

Teams:

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

Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 David Havili (captain), 11 Macca Springer, 10 Riley Hohepa, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dominic Gardiner, 5 Jamie Hannah, 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 George Bell, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ioane Moananu, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Seb Calder, 19 Tahlor Cahill, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Noah Hotham, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Dallas McLeod.

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

Chiefs 28-21 Highlanders

The scorers:

For Chiefs:
Tries: Rona, Ratima, Slater, Poihipi
Cons: McKenzie 4

For Highlanders:
Tries: Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Tavatavanawai, Broughton
Cons: Gilbert 3

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Daniel Rona, 13 Rameka Poihipi, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Luke Jacobson (captain), 7 Kaylum Boshier, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Josh Lord, 3 Reuben O’Neill, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Jared Proffit.
Replacements: 16 Tyrone Thompson, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 George Dyer, 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Wallace Sititi, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Emoni Narawa.

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Billy Harmon (captain), 6 Sean Withy, 5 Pari Pari Parkinson, 4 Fabian Holland, 3 Saula Ma’u, 2 Henry Bel, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Jack Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Oliver Haig, 20 Nikora Broughton, 21 James Arscott, 22 Ajay Faleafaga, 23 Connor Garden-Bachop.

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

Fijian Drua 39-36 Waratahs

The scorers:

For Fijian Drua:
Tries: Masi 3, Lomani, Ikanivere
Cons: Amstrong-Ravula 4
Pens: Armstrong Ravula
DG: Valetini

For Waratahs:
Tries: Vailanu 2, Gamble, Walton, Swinton
Cons: Edmed 4
Pen: Edmed

Teams:

Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Taniela Rakuro, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Meli Derenalagi (captain), 7 Vilive Miramira, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Zuriel Togiatama, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Kitione Salawa, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Epeli Momo.

Waratahs: 15 Max Jorgensen, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Dylan Pietsc, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Langi Gleeson, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Mahe Vailanu, 1 Angus Bell.
Reserves: 16 Julian Heaven, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Miles Amatosero, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Lachlan Swinton, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Triston Reilly.

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon
TMO: Chris Hart

Western Force 40-31 Reds

The scorers

For the Western Force
Tries: Kuenzle 2, Tizzano 2, Tiatia, White
Cons: Donaldson 5

For the Reds
Tries: McDermott 2, Faessler, McReight, Campbell
Cons: Lynagh 2, McLaughlin-Phillips

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Harry Potter, 14 Bayley Kuenzle, 13 Sam Spink, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Nic White, 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Tim Anstee, 5 Jeremy Williams (captain), 4 Thomas Franklin, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Ryan Coxon
Reserves: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Josh Bartlett, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Lopeti Faifua, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Max Burey, 23 George Poolman

Reds: 15 Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Mac Grealy, 10 Tom Lynagh, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright, 5 Ryan Smith, 4 Seru Uru, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Peni Ravai
Reserves: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 George Blake, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 Cormac Daly, 20 John Bryant, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, 23 Taj Annan

Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Jordan Kaminski

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