Crusaders and Sharks draw 21-21 in Super Rugby
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Stand-in flyhalf Mitchell Hunt converted his own try two minutes after the final siren to earn the Crusaders a lucky 21-21 draw with the Sharks in Super Rugby on Friday.
Hunt’s opposite, Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch, provided all of his team’s points from penalties, kicking his seventh goal from nine attempts to give the Durban-based team a 21-14 lead five minutes from fulltime.
Also, the Queensland Reds overcame a 13-8 halftime deficit to beat Japan’s Sunwolves 32-26 after a late spate of yellow and red cards. It took a two-man advantage for Queensland to win, and even then it was close on a night in which four yellow cards and one red were issued, and the Sunwolves entered the closing stages with just 12 men on the field.
The defensive performance the Sharks produced for 75 minutes in Christchurch suggested the South African side might hold on for another extraordinary win in a roller-coaster season which has seen them win and lose when least expected to do so.
But the Crusaders produced a last feat of exertion to create the try which allowed Hunt to level the scores. They won a series of penalties near the Sharks line and, from the last, replacement hooker Ben Funnell shifted the ball quickly to scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond whose longer pass allowed Hunt to find a rare chink in the Sharks’ defense.
Hunt lined up the crucial conversion and, with the home crowd hushed and the Sharks making every effort to charge down his kick, slotted the ball between the posts.
“I guess we’re happy to get in there and get a draw,” Crusaders captain Matt Todd said. “We made a lot of mistakes, gave away a lot of silly penalties and that’s what put us in that position.”
Todd praised the Sharks’ defense which frustrated the Crusaders and kept them camped in their own territory for most of the first half and a large chunk of the second.
“Defensively, they were good,” he said. “A number of times we built phases and came away with nothing. When they got opportunities they took their points and kept the scoreboard ticking over.”
Bosch landed three of four goal kicks in the first half, one from halfway, to give the Sharks an unexpected 9-7 lead at halftime.
Bosch landed four more in the second half, keeping the Sharks ahead for most of the match.
The Crusaders led only briefly, after a try by hooker Codie Taylor in the 12th minute. Jack Goodhue score a second try midway through the second half, running strongly off a short pass from Kieran Read. That closed the margin to a single point but Bosch propelled his team ahead again.
At Brisbane, the Reds were helped by a poorly disciplined Sunwolves side which lost prop Masataka Mikami for 10 minutes midway through the first half and saw wing Semisi Masirewa sent from the field early in the second half after collecting two yellow cards in quick succession either side of halftime.
While the Sunwolves initially managed to hold off the Reds, and even managed to hold a one-point lead midway through the second half, the pressure eventually told as the Reds scored three second-half tries for the win.
The Reds moved to within two points of Australian conference leaders the Melbourne Rebels.