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Crusaders top Blues in Super Rugby; Rebels end winless start

February 14, 2020 GMT

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — The defending champion Crusaders rebounded from an early-season loss to extend their Super Rugby winning streak over the Blues to 11 matches with a 25-8 win at Eden Park on Friday.

The Christchurch-based Crusaders lost to the Chiefs in last weekend’s second round and had to quickly regroup to face the Blues, who were coming off an away win over the New South Wales Waratahs.

“I think we had a decent review (of the Chiefs loss),” Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said. “We had a bit of hurt that was bottled up inside us.

“We knew we had to start well and play for the full 80 and I think we did that. You saw at the end there the boys really coming forward and making some good tackles.”

The Crusaders had to come from behind to win. They conceded a try to Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu after only seven minutes. But they quickly pulled themselves together and controlled most of the rest of the match.

After a penalty to David Havili, winger George Bridge gave the Blues a lead, at 8-3, they didn’t relinquish for the rest of the match. A further penalty to Havili gave them an 11-5 lead at halftime, which the Blues cut to three points with a penalty just after the restart.

Tries to flyhalf Richie Mo’unga and center Jack Goodhue in the third quarter took the match out of the reach of the Blues, who couldn’t hold onto possession.

On the few occasions the Blues threatened the Crusaders’ line, the defense was up to the challenge.

The Blues have now lost both of their matches against conference opponents this season, continuing a long losing record in matches against New Zealand teams.

Later, the Melbourne Rebels ended their winless start with a 24-10 home win in driving rain over the New South Wales Waratahs.

The Waratahs had won six of their past seven matches in Melbourne dating to 2013 and 15 of their past 17 overall, making the victory all the more important for the home side.

Melbourne led 8-5 at halftime with a new halves combination of Ryan Louwrens and Matt Toomua leading the offense. The kicking game of Toomua and fullback Dane Haylett-Petty gave the Rebels a big advantage.

With both teams struggling in the wet conditions, Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete was the only try-scorer in the first half. The Rebels looked to have scored another just before the break but a video replay determined Koroibete obstructed the defense.

The Waratahs took the lead in the 45th minute when prop Harry Johnson-Holmes barrelled over but it only lasted two minutes before Melbourne hit back through a successful penalty. Andrew Kellaway’s two late tries secured the win.

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