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Hurricanes edge out Crusaders

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Gio Aplon's first-half try kick-started the Stormers' win

Gio Aplon's first-half try kick-started the Stormers' win

Gio Aplon's first-half try kick-started the Stormers' win

The Stormers remained in top spot of the South African Super Rugby conference after overcoming Lions 22-17 at Newlands.

The Stormers started strongly and held a 13-3 lead at half time following a first-half try by Gio Aplon. However, the Lions came out for the second half in determined mood and a try by captain Josh Strauss brought them to within three points of their fellow South Africans.

The visitors were unable to continue that intensity though and the Stormers managed to regain control of the match with Jebb Sinclair scoring his first Super Rugby try.

The Bulls produced a stunning first-half blitz to overcome South African rivals the Cheetahs 40-24 and climb up to fourth place in the Super Rugby standings with an entertaining bonus-point victory in Pretoria.

The home side scored four tries in just 17 minutes through captain Pierre Spies, Dean Greyling and Zane Kirchner and Francois Hougaard to establish a 26-0 half-time lead, and there was no way back for the Cheetahs after that.

The Bulls then further extended their advantage in the second half through converted scores from Werner Kruger and Bjorn Basson before the Cheetahs salvaged some pride in the final 20 minutes with four tries of their own.

The Hurricanes defeated the Crusaders 23-22 in Christchurch to set the cat among the pigeons in the race for the Super 15 play-offs.

Conrad Smith scored two tries for the victors, while Beauden Barrett added three penalties - the last of which secured the win seven minutes from full-time. Zac Guildford scored a superb 60-metre try for the hosts, who also profited to the tune of five penalties from Tom Taylor - but they fell just short.

The result keeps the Hurricanes in the play-off hunt while putting pressure on the Crusaders when they meet the league-leading Chiefs in Hamilton next week.

Elsewhere, the Brumbies spoilt the party for retiring stalwart Nathan Sharpe as they inflicted a 28-17 defeat on Western Force in Perth.

PA