Belfast Telegraph

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Crusaders hold on for win

Israel Dagg made a determined late try-saving dash to clinch a thrilling victory for the Crusaders in Dunedin against the Highlanders.

Patrick Osborne had looked set to dot down for the second time in the contest but All Blacks full-back Dagg made up ground to prevent him doing so legitimately, with the television match official ruling the ball was grounded simultaneously on the touchline and the try-line.

The no-try decision meant the Crusaders clung on for a 32-30 win over their New Zealand rivals in their Super Rugby derby.

The victors had started the match by seeing a try disallowed themselves, with a forward pass ruling out Nemani Nadolo's early effort.

But they edged ahead in the 11th minute when following sustained attacking, Jordan Taufua powered over the line, with Colin Slade booting the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Ged Robinson replied for the Highlanders, narrowing the gap, although Lima Sopoaga failed to add the extras.

The home side led in the 27th minute when Osborne charged down the wing to go over, and Sopoaga made up for his earlier miss to secure a 12-7 lead, that was bitten into before the break by a Slade penalty.

The Crusaders began the second half just as they would have hoped, piling on immediate pressure as Nadolo burst forward and Tim Perry crossed for the try. Slade missed a simple conversion but the Crusaders had their lead back.

A Sopoaga penalty hauled the home side level briefly in the 48th minute, but almost immediately they were facing a deficit again after Nepo Laulala raced over the line and Slade made the conversion.

A penalty from Hayden Parker narrowed the gap to four points, but the difference between the sides was out to 11 points in the 64th minute when Nadolo took on a pass from Dagg to touch down in the corner, and Slade made the kick.

The Highlanders had hope when Malakai Fekitoa darted over, but Parker missed the conversion attempt, and Slade nudged Crusaders nine points in front at 32-23 with a penalty soon after.

Ben Smith crossed in the 71st minute and Parker made the conversion to leave the game up for grabs again, and when winger Osborne saw the try-line in the 80th minute it was his to win.

Yet Dagg made it difficult, forcing Osborne just wide enough to deny the Highlanders flyer the late glory.

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