The Crusaders have beaten the Sharks in a hard-fought Super 14 encounter in atrocious conditions in Christchurch on Friday.
Report courtesy news24.
The win gave the first-placed Crusaders 47 points after 12 of the 14 regular-season rounds, a temporary buffer of 11 points over the second placed Waratahs who play the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
With 10 wins in 11 games, the Crusaders are likely safe in first place. In contrast, the Sharks, who shared the Crusaders’ unbeaten record through nine rounds, are in danger of missing the playoffs after their third straight loss.
The Durban-based team has matches remaining against the Cheetahs and Chiefs and may have to win both to remain among the top four. Friday’s match was their fifth on a road trip which has brought only one win and a draw and has seen them gradually drop away from the top of the table.
Props Greg Somerville and Wyatt Crockett scored in similar circumstances to give the Crusaders a two tries to one victory. Crockett’s 74th-minute try provided the only points of the second half after the Crusaders led 13-10 at half-time.
Somerville scored in the 17th minute, pouncing on the ball in a goalline melee after scrumhalf Andy Ellis had failed in his initial attempt to force the ball over the line.
Crockett also deprived Ellis of a try, grubber kicking over the goalline and beating the scrumhalf and then the Sharks defence to the loose ball.
The Crusaders had narrow advantages of territory and possession in the first half but the Sharks reversed those percentages in the second half. By full-time, territory and possession was almost evenly shared.
The difference between the teams was the Crusaders’ defence, which kept the Sharks scoreless in the second half.
“The defensive effort was great,” said Crusaders captain Richie McCaw. The All Blacks captain spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin at the end of the first half and start of the second for a professional foul in defence.
“Some big hits went in tonight which caused turnovers and that was where the game was won and lost,” McCaw added.
The Sharks again showed an inability to score points from a reasonable share of possession. Their rising star, No 8 Ryan Kankowski, scored their only try in the 27th minute, detaching from a scrum and fending off three tacklers, including McCaw, on a 25m run to the line.
“Especially in the second half we had a lot of ball but we couldn’t turn it into points,” captain Johann Muller said.Tweet