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Reds end 25-year drought in Christchurch with win over Crusaders

By AAP
Harry Wilson of the Reds celebrates scoring a try. Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Fraser McReight has led a Queensland Reds charge in Christchurch to snap his side’s 25-year losing streak against the Crusaders in New Zealand.

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The Reds beat the Crusaders 33-28 on Saturday, stoic defence in the final minutes after building a 12-point lead with six minutes to play staving off what looked set to be another gutting near miss.

It was the Reds’ first win in the city since Tim Horan, Ben Tune, Toutai Kefu, Daniel Herbert and Nathan Sharpe wore the jersey in 1999 – and just the Crusaders’ second loss to an Australian side in Christchurch since 2004.

The visitors played brilliant rugby to add to their Highlanders and Chiefs triumphs, Tim Ryan’s double making it five tries in two Super Rugby Pacific starts for the 20-year-old, and unheralded No.10 Lawson Creighton’s kicking game superb.

Back from a two-game suspension, flanker McReight showed his class at the breakdown, while backrow partners Liam Wright and Harry Wilson made ground.

Victory made it three wins against New Zealand sides this year for the Reds, their only trans-Tasman losses coming via after-the-siren tries to the Hurricanes and Blues.

The five-tries-to-four win improved them to 5-5 and put them on the doorstep of the top four.

The Crusaders, who have shown vast improvement since an 0-5 start, dropped to 2-8 and lost captain and All Blacks star Scott Barrett to an apparent back injury after just 14 minutes.

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After eight penalties in the first 16 minutes, it was the Reds who opened the scoring through McReight, with fullback Jock Campbell’s clean break setting the platform.

Four early kicks in behind the Crusaders defence amounted to nothing initially, but eventually created the space for Josh Flook to break down the left wing.

Campbell was involved again as winger Ryan finished an 80-metre special.

Dallas McLeod got the hosts on the board in the 38th minute but the Reds regained control when prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen scored from a line-out turnover to begin the second half.

The Crusaders scored the next two, Quinten Strange’s try to level the scores controversially upheld when replays were unable to say conclusively the ball had been held up.

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Harry Wilson then did it himself, charging down an exit kick and regathering to score a try that stunted the comeback.

Ryan earned another when he sped onto Campbell’s chip kick, and when Ryan Smith forced a turnover with a heads-up defensive play soon after the Reds looked home.

But Ryan gave away a lineball offensive penalty with the Reds in prime position and Sevu Reece raced off for his 100th first-class try.

The Crusaders burnt down the left edge again seeking the go-ahead try but were stopped, with the Reds able to withstand one last push to rewrite the record books.

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