Super Rugby Aotearoa: Hurricanes keep Chiefs winless, Crusaders romp home in Dunedin

Super Rugby - Aotearoa
AAP
by AAP

The Hurricanes have virtually ended the Chiefs' Super Rugby Aotearoa title ambitions with a 25-18 victory, despite playing almost the entire second half of their clash in Hamilton with 14 men.

Hurricanes lock Scott Scrafton was given a yellow card by referee Ben O'Keeffe after a succession of penalties early in the second half, then received a second just after he returned to the field.

O'Keeffe also awarded the home side a penalty try for Scrafton's tackle of Damian McKenzie from an offside position.

Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier scored a try with three minutes remaining to give the home side a chance, but they were unable to breach a staunch Hurricanes defence again.

The Chiefs had been tipped to challenge for the Super Rugby title this year and were handily placed with four wins and sitting in fifth in the 15-team competition before it was postponed in March due to the novel coronavirus.

Warren Gatland's side, however, have now lost all four of their games in Super Rugby Aotearoa and are out of contention for the title in the 10-week competition amongst just New Zealand sides.

The Hurricanes had lost their first two games but ran out to a 20-3 lead at halftime with Cobus Van Wyk scoring an early try, while Du'Plessis Kirifi also crossed and Jordie Barrett landed a penalty from almost 60 metres just before the break.

McKenzie slotted his second penalty shortly after the restart but the home side were unable to capitalise when Scrafton received his first yellow card.

Instead Van Wyk added his second try while Scrafton was sitting on the sidelines to give the Hurricanes a 25-6 lead with about 20 minutes remaining.

The lock returned and then received a second yellow, but the Chiefs did not threaten again until Boshier crossed.

RESULT

Hurricanes 25

Tries: Van Wyk 2, Kirifi

Cons: Barrett 2

Pens: Barrett 2

Chiefs 18

Tries: Boshier, Penalty try

Cons:

Pens: McKenzie 2

HIGHLANDERS vs CRUSADERS

Loose forward Tom Christie scored two second-half tries for the Crusaders as they relentlessly ground down the Highlanders to record a 40-20 victory in their Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Dunedin on Saturday.

Winger Will Jordan also crossed once in each half as the Crusaders moved to the top of the table with their third victory in the competition, setting up a potential title decider with the similarly unbeaten Blues next week in Christchurch.

It had looked ominous for the Highlanders as the Crusaders jumped out to an 8-0 lead through a Richie Mo'unga penalty and Jordan's try and were dominating the scrum.

Highlanders and All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith, however, began to direct his pack better and they stormed back with tries by Shannon Frizell and winger Ngane Punivai to take a 14-8 lead.

Two Mo'unga penalties dragged the Crusaders back into the game before Mitchell Hunt's penalty gave the home side a 17-14 advantage on the stroke of halftime.

Jordan continued to stamp his mark after the break, his run setting up Christie's first try after the visitors dominated the opening 10 minutes of the second period.

The Highlanders effectively gave the Crusaders the only chance they needed to close out the game when replacement hooker Ash Dixon and winger Jona Nareki both failed to pass the ball to unmarked players less than 10 metres from the line.

Crusaders winger Sevu Reece gave them breathing room shortly afterwards before the visitors controlled possession to shift the momentum back in their favour.

Christie ensured victory three minutes from time with his second try before Jordan completed the scoring to complete his second successive two-try performance.

RESULT

Highlanders 20

Tries: Punivai, Frizell

Cons: Hunt 2

Pens: Hunt 2

Crusaders 40

Tries: Jordan 2, Christie 2, Reece

Cons: Mo'unga 3

Pens: Mo'unga 3