Super Rugby week 10 recap: Crusaders continue to lead the way after maintaining winning start in Bloemfontein

Super Rugby week 10 recap: Crusaders continue to lead the way after maintaining winning start in Bloemfontein

The Crusaders continue to set the pace atop the Super Rugby standings following their ninth consecutive win

tom-hiscott
Tom Hiscott

In 2017, New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have defeated their Australian opponents in each of the 15 Trans-tasman clashes to take place. 

There is a glaring disparity between the talent available to the teams from each country, with Australia really struggling to maintain five competitive teams, hence the culling of one franchise ahead of 2018. 

Highlanders and Crusaders turn on the style in big wins, while Chiefs sneak past Sunwolves

The tenth round of the Super Rugby season got underway on Friday evening at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, where the Highlanders produced a scintillating 57-14 win over the Stormers

The Stormers set the tone for the match, scoring a stunning try in the opening minutes to forge ahead. Captain Siya Kolisi marauded down the right wing before offloading to Nizaam Carr who dived over in the corner as the South African's looked to end a two-match losing streak.

That early try seemed to kickstart the Highlanders into life, and on the day of Patrick Osborne's 50th Super Rugby game, the Fijian winger was instrumental as the home side scored 31 unanswered points to close out the first half. Osborne finished off two tries of his own, as well as providing a one-handed offload to free Rob Thompson who raced over, with All Black duo Liam Squire and Waisake Naholo also touching down for the rampant Highlanders. 

Waisake Naholo carries for the Highlanders (image source: Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

The hosts didn't let up after the break, and despite losing Aki Seiuli to a yellow card, they outscored their opponents four tries to one in the second half, with Naholo, Dillon Hunt, Greg Pleasants-Tate and Matt Faddes all registering scores. 

Expectations in Hamilton were that the Chiefs would follow on from the Highlanders performance and rack up a high score of their own, but they were made to fight and only achieved a 27-20 win at home to the Sunwolves

Dave Rennie had made plenty of changes to his side following a disappointing three-week tour which still garnered two victories, yet he didn't get the desired response as they struggled to put away their Japanese opponents.

Damian McKenzie is one player whose level hasn't dropped recently, and his 17 points, including two tries, were crucial in the victory. Hika Elliot and Solomona Alaimalo also crossed for scores, yet the Chiefs were forced to miss out on the bonus point after Fumiaki Tanaka and Derek Carpenter scored for the visitors. 

The Crusaders are having no such trouble at the moment, and they rolled to their ninth consecutive victory, with a 48-21 triumph in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs.

Scott Robertson's side are in irresistible form, and they scored seven tries in the big win on the first leg of their South African tour. 

David Havili was mesmeric at full-back, and he scored tries in either half, beating ten defenders during the 80 minutes, while winger George Bridge scored his second hat-trick in the space of three games on his way to 142 running metres. 

David Havili breaks for the Crusaders (image source: Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Richie Mo'unga added a try, plus 13 points from the kicking tee, with replacement scrum-half Mitchell Drummond also crossing for a score, with the Cheetahs three tries scored by Ox Nche, Raymond Rhule and Sergeal Petersen

It wasn't all good news for the Crusaders however, and as well as losing Kieran Read to a broken thumb, they will be sweating on the disciplinary hearing Sam Whitelock faces after he was sin-binned for elbowing an opponent in the face. 

Waratahs stun Reds, while Force and Brumbies fall to home defeats

During the New South Wales-Queensland clash in Brisbane, three late penalty goals from Bernard Foley helped the Waratahs come from behind to stun the Reds in a 29-26 win.

The Reds were in complete control at the half-hour mark following tries from Karmichael Hunt, Lukhan Tui and Izaia Perese, but a yellow card to Perese was followed soon after by a Michael Hooper try to keep the Waratahs in the game at half-time. 

Michael Hooper breaks past Quade Cooper on his way to the line (image source: Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Foley kicked his second penalty of the game to put the Waratahs ahead for the first time in the opening moments of the second half, but the Reds hit back and Wallaby captain Stephen Moore found himself on the back of a driving maul to score his side's fourth try of the game. 

That ended up being the Reds final points however, and indiscipline in their own half cost them, with Foley nailing three penalties, the last of which came two minutes from time to steal victory for Daryl Gibson's side. 

Over in Perth, the Force continue to show a lot of fight in a tough time for the club, but they didn't have enough firepower and their latest defeat came at the hands of the Lions, who snuck a 24-15 bonus point win. 

Ian Prior knocked over five penalties in defeat for the Force, but they didn't come close to troubling the Lions line, which meant tries from Lionel Mapoe, Courtnall Skosan and Elton Jantjies were enough to claim maximum points for the tourists. 

It was a similar story for the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday, where they failed to cross the line in an 18-12 defeat at the hands of the Blues

The Blues had almost all of the possession in the opening half yet they only had an 8-3 lead to show for it, with Matt Duffie stretching out to score the lone try following a break from George Moala

Akira Ioane scored a crucial try for the Blues (image source: Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Wharenui Hawera then landed a pair of penalties to push the Brumbies out into a 9-8 lead, but the Blues finished strong, and tries from Akira Ioane and Melani Nanai helped them claim an unlikely bonus point against their struggling hosts. 

Kings run riot against abysmal Rebels, while Sharks claim crucial win in Buenos Aires

The Force and Brumbies each struggled, but without doubt the worst Australian performance of the weekend came from the Rebels who were trounced 44-3 by the Kings in Port Elizabeth.

The Kings are very likely to be cut ahead of next season but have shown huge improvements of late and can feel hard done by if they are culled following this latest victory.

Deon Davids' side racked-up 736 run metres in their thumping win, with breakout star Makazole Mapimpi accounting for 146 of those to accompany his second-half try. 

Mapimpi carries strongly for the Kings (image source: Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Mapimpi's fellow back-three buddies Masixole Banda and Wandile Mjekevu also crossed for tries, as did Martin Bezuidenhout, Tyler Paul and Pieter-Steyn de Wet against a rudderless Rebel side who fell off tackles at will during their sixth loss of the season. 

In a vitally important fixture, three tries by the Sharks forward pack helped them claim a 33-25 victory over the Jaguares to build an eight-point gap between the sides in the Africa 2 conference. 

Both sides are chasing a wildcard spot behind the Lions who top the conference, and it was the Sharks who made the brighter start at the José Amalfitani Stadium with Philip van der Walt crashing over in the first minute.

Nicolas Sanchez and Curwin Bosch then traded two penalties apiece, before the Jaguares crossed for their first try, with Joaquin Tuculet going over in the corner after being put away by Jeronimo de la Fuente

With Michael Claassens still in the sin-bin, the Jaguares forged ahead thanks to Matias Orlando's touchdown, but once Claassens returned to the field the Sharks got level on the scoreboard with Etienne Oosthuizen charging over from ten metres out. 

With the game sitting perfectly poised at 20 apiece, it was the South African side who were next to score, and it came thanks to the front row. A line break from prop forward Coenie Oosthuizen cut the Jaguares defence apart, before he popped the ball to his loosehead partner Thomas du Toit who raced under the sticks. 

Lukhanyo Am takes on Rodrigo Baez (image source: Juan Mabromata/Getty Images)

Bosch then added his third penalty to stretch the lead out to ten points, before the Jaguares hit back once more with Bautista Ezcurra diving over in the corner following excellent play by Tuculet. 

The home crowd did their best to roar the Argentines on to victory, yet it was to no avail, and after Bosch smashed over another penalty with five minutes remaining the Jaguares were left to suffer their first home defeat of the season. 

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