Crusaders beat Waratahs

The Canterbury Crusaders maintained their unbeaten record and took over the lead in rugby union’s Super 14 on Friday with a 17-11 win over the New South Wales Waratahs. The Crusaders edged the Waratahs two tries to one, posting their eighth win from as many starts to lead the competition by two points.

The match was played with almost test-match intensity but without conspicuous skill on either side. The Crusaders’ play was blighted by handling errors and a lack of combination while the Waratahs were apparently nervous in the first half but more resolute and competitive in the second.

“I’m relieved to be quite honest,” Canterbury captain and All Blacks flanker Richie McCaw said. “We got put under a heap of pressure and the boys defended well but possibly we concentrated too much on defending rather than keeping on attacking.

“We got a couple of tries and had a couple more opportunities that we probably should have taken. We defended well and held them out and we’re happy to take the four points.” The Crusaders seemed headed for a comfortable win when they led 14-3 at halftime with tries to lock Chris Jack and fullback Leon MacDonald, converted by Daniel Carter. New South Wales’ only points came from a late penalty to fullback Peter Hewat.

Center Morgan Turinui scored a try out of nothing in the sixth minute of the second half, pursuing a kick from Hewat the Crusaders rashly allowed to bounce inside their 22, and the match suddenly became close.

Canterbury could only manage a penalty to Carter and the Waratahs another penalty to Hewat in the last 34 minutes of the game. New South Wales battered Canterbury’s line relentlessly through the final 10 minutes but were unable to open a breach in a well coordinated defense.

Hewat, the competition’s leading scorer with 132 points, had landed 15 goals from as many attempts in his last two games, but wavered Friday and managed only two penalties from five attempts.

Carter slotted three from three.

It was the only match Friday.

The ninth round concludes Saturday when New Zealand sides host three matches – Otago plays the Western Force at Dunedin, Waikato hosts South Africa’s Bulls at Hamilton and Auckland is the site for the Blues’ match against another South Africa side, the Stormers.

Later Saturday, the ACT Brumbies host the Cheetahs at Canberra, Australia and the Cats play the Queensland Reds at Johannesburg, South Africa. Wellington and the Sharks had weekend byes.

— Scores: Canterbury 17 (Chris Jack, Leon MacDonald tries; Daniel Carter 2 conversions, penalty), New South Wales 11 (Morgan Turinui try; Peter Hewat 2 penalties).

Source : Sapa-AP /td

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