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Crusaders begin with a win, Hurricanes leave it late

By Ben Spratt
The Crusaders celebrate a Manasa Mataele try

Super Rugby champions the Crusaders kicked off their 2019 campaign with a win as they edged past the Blues 24-22 on Saturday.

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The Crusaders did not have it all their own way away from home, but a double from Manasa Mataele and a pair of penalty tries saw them safe.

Otere Black’s penalty opened the scoring, yet the visitors were in control at the break as Mataele went over and a second try was awarded following a lineout drive.

The Blues rallied after the restart and Akira Ioane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi turned the game on its head until the Crusaders responded again, with Mataele going through before the second penalty try.

The hosts kept pushing and Augustine Pulu brought them back within reach of victory, only for Harry Plummer to waste two late kicks as the Crusaders held on.

Meanwhile, in the absence of star man Beauden Barrett, the Hurricanes came through a similarly dramatic finale to steal a 20-19 victory at the Waratahs.

Bernard Foley kicked four first-half penalties to give the Australian outfit the lead at the interval, with Jordie Barrett’s kicks and an Ardie Savea try narrowing the deficit to just two points.

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The Waratahs remained on top as the second half began and crossed for the first time as Curtis Rona went over out wide.

But Jordie Barrett responded again and, although the Hurricanes saw the officials twice rule against them on apparent tries, Du’Plessis Kirifi finally burst through to put the visitors in front five minutes from time.

There was still room for further drama, though, and Foley, so clinical throughout, missed a 78th-minute penalty in front of the posts to cost his side.

The Sharks also got a first win of the year as they thrashed the Sunwolves 45-10 in Singapore.

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The Sunwolves scored all of their points – including Shane Gates’ try – in the opening 15 minutes, before the away side took complete control.

Armand van der Merwe got a brace, with Daniel du Preez, Sibusiso Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi and Jeremy Ward all also contributing tries.

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B.J. Spratt 6 hours ago
Jono Gibbes' reaction to France U20s putting 55 points on New Zealand

N.Z. Under 20'‘s concede 7 tries to France Unfortunately New Zealand Rugby has lost over 25% + of players between 12-18 over the last 3-5 years, possibly more. Poor administration and a Shocking Public Perception about the NZRFU has finally caught up with these dinosaurs. 66% of N.Z. Population lives North of Hamilton and 52% of Auckland population are Asian, who would rather play football. Rugby is dying while other Sports are growing. The rules need to change around the collision/tackle but personally I think the absolute “Arrogance and Stupidity” that the NZRFU has demonstrated over the decades, “with their jobs for the boys attitude” has led to their demise. A Professional Players Union that can somehow “Disassociate itself from the “Old men with bad breath and dandruff” that is the NZRFU, will be a huge challenge. Personally I think it’s far too late to recover and rejuvenate interest in Rugby by young players. Rugby is booming in France and that’s the difference. A booming Professional domestic League. NZRFU are “Not fit for purpose” and have no idea about commercial reality My kids generation would rather their kids don’t play Rugby. Very aware of CTE and the NZRFU arrogance and stupidity, in denying its existence. Finally, the NZRFU have managed to cover up ”Numerous serious crimes over the decades, committed by players, coaches and administrators simply because the tentacles of their “Power and Influence” have reached all sectors of New Zealand Society, including the Judiciary, Politicians, Police and Big business. Denying CTE even exists is a “no brainer for them”

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