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Sharks winning run closes as Crusaders keep 2002 record alive

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Shopprice South Africa

 

It has been 14 years since the Canterbury Crusaders became the last team to go through a Super season unbeaten and their captain Kieran Read affirmed it will be another year at least before that record is matched.

 

Read’s late try in Durban affected the first defeat of the year on the Coastal Sharks and means every side has now lost at least once in the first five rounds.With the thrilling 19-14 victory the Crusaders, with a game in hand, have won three out of four and lie fourth in the New Zealand conference headed by the Waikato Chiefs, who scored nine tries in thumping the Western Force 53-10.The 2002 Crusaders are the only team to have won every game in a Super season.

The Sharks and Western Stormers, who survived a scoreless second half to beat the Jaguares 13-8 in Buenos Aires, head the two African conferences.ACT Brumbies’ 25-18 triumph over the Central Cheetahs kept them at the top of the Australian group.New All Blacks captain Kieran Read rounded off a 15-phase attack with his try eight minutes from time to steal victory for the Crusaders over the Sharks.Despite being starved of possession, constantly trapped in their half and struggling at the scrums and line-outs, the Sharks were ahead 14-7 early in the second spell.

They stayed in front for nearly half an hour until Read scored the match-winning try.Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder felt the close result was a problem for his side who “dominated the whole game, but we probably pushed too many passes and made a lot of errors.”If we had lost it would have been because of the errors we made.”The Chiefs were in scintillating form in notching a half-century against the Force with Charlie Ngatai leading the way with four tries while Damian McKenzie, the leading points scorer in the competition, scored twice and landed three conversions.

They held a slender 12-10 lead at half-time and set the game alight after the break with 41 unanswered points as they mesmerised the Australians with a high-tempo game peppered with inventive off-loads.Defending champions the Otago Highlanders cruised to a bonus point 27-3 win over the Melbourne Rebels to remain one point behind the Chiefs on the New Zealand table.They out-muscled the Rebels to score three tries to none, putting up an impressive defensive wall to keep their line intact, making 119 tackles, missing only nine and forcing a host of turnovers.

The Brumbies jumped  back from last week’s loss to the Stormers with a 25-18 win over the Cheetahs in an error-strewn fixture in Bloemfontein.The top Australian outfit led 25-8 before the Cheetahs mounted a late rally to secure a bonus point.The Northern Bulls claimed their first Super Rugby win outside of South Africa in more than three years when they edged home to beat the Sunwolves 30-27 in Singapore.Although the Tokyo-based Sunwolves remain without a win, they made up for their lack of experience with enthusiasm and improvisation which affected Bulls coach Nollis Marais.

“I think they’re going to get outdo and outdo and I’m just glad we played them now rather than three or four weeks from now because they’re really a good side and people don’t want to disparage them.”The Wellington Hurricanes needed a late explosion to beat the Southern Kings 42-20, while the the NSW Waratahs advanced to two wins from five when they beat the Queensland Reds 15-13 in Brisbane in Sunday’s final match of the round.

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