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Crusaders claim emotional victory

An emotionally charged Crusaders paid tribute to the Pike River Miners and the victims of the Christchurch earthquake with a resounding 33-18 victory over the NSW Waratahs at Nelson's Trafalgar Park.

The blockbusting midfield pairing of second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams and centre Robbie Fruean were to the fore. Fruean, especially, was unstoppable. His two tries late in the first half almost single handedly stole the momentum and the match.

Williams first three touches were lamentable - two wobbly passes and a brainless back-door flick under his sticks gifted the Waratahs field position from which impressive hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau superbly offloaded to send second five-eighths Tom Carter in at the corner. Halagahu missed the conversion and his first penalty. Dan Carter then pinched the initiative with two three-pointers.

That was short lived, however, as nippy halfback Luke Burgess started and finished a sharp blindside burst for his side's second try. Left wing Adam Whitelock was badly exposed as a midfielder playing out of position when Burgess turned him inside and out. Halagahu shanked his third and was stripped of the kicking duties before fullback Kurtley Beale knocked over a 40m penalty for a 13-6 lead.

Fruean lived up to his burgeoning reputation when he scored two tries in the blink of an eye, turning the match on its head. Halagahu's nightmare only got worse as he gifted Fruean a one-handed runaway.

Williams made amends by holding up a ball that allowed his midfield partner to bulldoze over for a second. Carter converted both and punished an infringement on half-time for a 26-13 advantage.

Williams sprinted past Halagahu and through a gaping hole to collect his first Super Rugby try, Carter making no mistake. Waratahs replacement wing Afa Pakalani, from Wellington, scored a consolation try but Beale was no better with his conversion attempt.

Substitute Rene Ranger scored two second-half tries to help the Blues claim a 41-32 victory in an epic end-to-end Super 15 encounter against the Lions in Johannesburg.

The New Zealanders outscored their opponents by five tries to four, turning around an eight-point half-time deficit in front of an expectant Coca Cola Park crowd.

However, the hosts, who received major financial investment during the closed season, were left to rue several errors at crucial periods with the most telling mistakes coming from their rookie fly-half Elton Jantjies as they remained without a win in three games.


From Belfast Telegraph