NZ teams sweep Australia’s in Super Rugby opening round
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — New Zealand’s five Super Rugby sides swept their Australian rivals in the opening trans-Tasman round after the Western Force allowed the Chiefs to escape with a 20-19 win on Saturday.
Domingo Miotti couldn’t convert his own try in the 82nd minute, leaving the Force to fall short of a comeback win from 20-10 down with 15 minutes left of regular time in Perth.
The Hamilton-based Chiefs deserved a narrow halftime lead despite playing with 13 men, but their indiscipline, Damian McKenzie’s wayward goalkicking, and No. 8 Luck Jacobson’s red card, inspired the Force.
Miotti’s last-gasp conversion miss repeated the ACT Brumbies’ fate against the New Zealand champion Crusaders in Christchurch.
Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio missed the sideline conversion of back-rower Rob Valetini’s last-minute try to let the Crusaders win 31-29.
Valetini stretched over the Crusaders’ try-line in the last minute. But Lolesio, who had kept a perfect kicking record until that point, drifted his conversion attempt from the left touchline wide of the left-hand post, and the 14-man Crusaders, who led throughout the match, hung on for the win.
The Crusaders led 19-7 at halftime but a flurry of late penalties reduced them to 14 men and gave the visitors the chance to level the score.
“I’m definitely proud of the effort, especially the fight we showed in the second half to put us back in the game,” Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said. “The boys were obviously devastated with the loss.”
No. 8 Hoskins Sotutu scored two early second-half tries to help the Auckland-based Blues outclass the Melbourne Rebels 50-3.
The Blues finished with six tries, including two by replacement back Akira Ioane.
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