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March 3, 2018 | Africa

Classy Crusaders swat aside Stormers, Waratahs grab draw

AFP
The Canterbury Crusaders maintained their imposing home record against South African teams.  By John Davidson (www.photosport.nz/AFP)
The Canterbury Crusaders maintained their imposing home record against South African teams. By John Davidson (www.photosport.nz/AFP)

Reigning Super Rugby champions Canterbury Crusaders brushed aside Western Stormers with a vintage display on Saturday, while a late try rescued a draw for Waratahs at Coastal Sharks.

The Crusaders made a blistering start with four early tries, winning 45-28 to leave the Stormers still chasing their first victory in Christchurch.

Waratahs substitute Mitch Short scored four minutes from time and Bernard Foley converted from the touchline for a 24-24 draw in Durban.

In the first match of the day, Melbourne Rebels beat Sunwolves 37-17 in Tokyo for a second successive bonus-point victory at the start of the season.

Eight-time champions Crusaders ran in seven tries to four to maintain their imposing home record against South African teams.

Winger George Bridge again proved the Stormers' tormentor, scoring two tries to add to the hat-trick he notched the last time the teams met in Christchurch.

The huge buffer built in the first half meant the Crusaders were never threatened, although captain Sam Whitelock praised the Stormers for battling on and scoring four tries.

"We started off pretty well but full credit to them, they came back and tested us," he said.

The Stormers started badly by turning over lineout ball in the first minute and their night deteriorated as they conceded four tries in the first 20 minutes.

Bridge opened the floodgates, scoring in the corner after the Crusaders worked the ball down the blindside following a Stormers' scrum infringement.

Codie Taylor, Billy Harmon and Bryn Hall followed in rapid succession, leaving the stunned Stormers trailing 26-0 midway through the first half.

Stormers' persistence paid off when prop JC van Rensburg crossed for a converted try in the 33rd minute after the Stormers worked the ball through 15 phases.

But the Crusaders hit back through Bridge, who capitalised on a defensive mix-up to make it 31-7 at half-time.

The Stormers remained positive and prop Wilco Louw barged his way over for a converted try a minute after the restart.

They ground out another converted try in the 54th minute, this time going through 20 phases before JD Schickerling scored to narrow the gap to 31-21.

Any hopes of an unlikely comeback were dashed when Seta Tamanivalu and Richie Mo'unga took the Crusaders' try tally to seven, although Steven Kitshoff managed a late consolation try for the Stormers.

Meanwhile, there were never more than seven points between the Sharks and Waratahs, who scored 10 points each in the opening half at Kings Park stadium.

A Robert du Preez try, which he converted, put Sharks 24-17 ahead with eight minutes remaining before Short struck to leave the home team winless after two matches.

Wallaby Foley kicked three conversions and a penalty to reach 758 points in Super Rugby after a match that was tense but contained too many handling errors.

The Rebels launched a second-half blitz to down the Sunwolves with winger Jack Maddocks scoring a hat-trick.

The scores were locked 10-10 at half time before the Melbourne outfit pulled away to win their first two matches of the Super Rugby season for the first time.

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