Crusaders too strong for Hurricanes

Sunwolves head coach Tony Brown has been left frustrated by the Japanese franchise's Super Rugby demise

Sunwolves head coach Tony Brown has been left frustrated by the Japanese franchise's Super Rugby demise

Yet the Crusaders overcame that setback and a yellow card for Matt Todd to triumph comfortably and open up a five-point lead over their opponents at the top of the New Zealand Conference.

Having beaten the Crusaders in the previous round, the Waratahs were brought down to earth in spectatular fashion by the Sunwolves, who dusted themselves up following the devastating news of their imminent axing to claim a 31-29 victory.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks on the field and off", Sunwolves captain Dan Pryor said.

"They just dug deep".

The Waratahs shocked the Sunwolves with a try after 90 seconds and led 12-3 before the Sunwolves rallied with tries to Masirewa and Grant Hattingh to led 17-12 at halftime.

Hooper crashed over from close range soon after the restart as the Waratahs came out firing before Masirewa swallow-dived over in the corner after sprinting from own 22.

It was a battle between the first and second place on the New Zealand conference ladder overnight in the Super Rugby competition, with the top of the table Crusaders traveling to Wellington to take on the Hurricanes.

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The nine-time champions outclassed a Hurricanes team full of talent but stricken by handling errors.

In contrast, the Crusaders eliminated the handling mistakes that contributed to their loss to the Waratahs.

"We looked at ourselves pretty heavily, our decision-making and how we play", Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock said after last week's loss. "A six-day turnaround was great for us".

In the second half, the Crusaders took off where they left off, scoring two consecutive tries in the first 10 minutes of the match and not allowing the home side to score at all, keeping them scoreless in the final half.

Ngani Laumape scored the Hurricanes' only try in the match in which both sides committed numerous errors while the Crusaders defence forced several turnovers when the hosts were on attack. Barrett's skills remain obvious but his tactical mistakes, especially his misjudged kicking, have been costly and he may be more effective at fullback.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read made his first appearance of the season in the No 8 shirt for the Crusaders but sat out the second half with an apparent thigh strain. Bryn Hall had a strong game at scrumhalf and Ryan Crotty's strength in midfield was a key part of the Crusaders' efficient finishing.

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