Super Rugby - Round 6
Crusaders run riot at Twickenham
ESPNscrum Staff
March 27, 2011

The Crusaders moved back to the top of the New Zealand conference after beating the Sharks 44-28 in a thrilling spectacle at Twickenham on Sunday.

The Crusaders put in an epic first-half perfromance to lead 34-18 at the break having run in tries through Dan Carter, Sean Maitland, Zac Guildford and Israel Dagg with Sonny Bill Williams once again showing of his immeasurable skills in the centres.

Tries from Willem Alberts and fly-half Jacques -Louis Potgieter, who was playing in the absence of the injured Patrick Lambie, kept the Sharks in the hunt. And they came out with renewed vigour after the break and reduced the deficit thanks to tries from Odwa Ndungane and Alistair Hargreaves. But the Crusaders, who played some scintillating attacking rugby throughout, had the final word as Maitland grabbed his second try of the afternoon.

The Stormers maintained their 100 percent record in this season's Super Rugby campaign with an impressive 51-16 rout of Western Force at Newlands on Saturday. The previously try-shy Stormers enjoyed a dream start in Cape Town, with centre Jaque Fourie touching down less than 60 seconds after the kick-off, and they added another try through Deon Fourie midway through the first half. Wallabies starlet James O'Connor replied for the Force but the Stormers had the bonus point in the bag by the break following tries from Jean de Villiers and, once again, hooker Fourie. Not to be outdone by his namesake, Jaque Fourie then helped himself to a second try 14 minutes into the second half as the Stormers pulled 41-16 clear.

The Stormers lost flanker Francois Louw to the bin soon after but it mattered not a jot. After comfortably withstanding what little the Force had to offer whilst down to 14, Grant, who enjoyed a flawless afternoon off the kicking tee, landed a penalty to extend the home side's advantage before being on hand to convert after lock Andries Bekker had crashed over in the closing stages as the South Africans made it five wins from five this term.

Defending champions Bulls bounced back from consecutive defeats and put their season back on track with a hard-fought 30-23 victory over the Lions in Pretoria. Dewaldt Potgieter, Gary Botha and Bjorn Basson all scored tries, while Morne Steyn kicked 15 points. Deon van Rensburg and Franco van der Merwe responded for the visitors, but they were left to rue several errors in key areas and eventually fell to a fifth loss in six games.

The Blues staged another second-half comeback to beat a stubborn Chiefs side 16-13 in their clash at a rain-soaked Waikato Stadium. The out-of-sorts Chiefs got off to a flyer with a try from No.8 Liam Messam after just 38 seconds and they doubled their lead midway through the half when prop Sona Taumalolo powered over from a couple of metres out. But Blues fly-half Luke McAlister dragged his side back into the game with two penalties. The Blues laid siege to the Chiefs line in the closing minutes of the half, repeatedly setting scrums after referee Ian Smith penalised the Chiefs time and again. He refused to go to his pocket for a yellow card despite a warning and the Chiefs managed to escape with their line intact.

A second half try from centre Jared Payne then gave the Blues the lead with McAlister's conversion adding a little breathing room. Chiefs fly-half Mike Delany levelled things up from the kicking tee just after the hour mark but a long-range effort from McAlister gave his side the edge once more and it was enough for the win that carries them to the top of the New Zealand conference table.

Meanwhile, the Waratahs erased the memory of their shock defeat against the Cheetahs last weekend with a 29-22 victory over the Brumbies in Canberra. A kicking duel between Waratahs fullback Kurtley Beale and Brumbies fly-half Matt Giteau saw the sides go into the break locked at 12-12. Giteau edged his side ahead early in the second half before Waratahs centre Ryan Cross pounced for the game's first try and Beale converted the score before adding another penalty.

But the Brumbies battled back and prop Ben Alexander barrelled over with five minutes to go and Giteau's conversion levelled things up once more. The Waratahs rallied once more and saw a try from replacement Afa Pakalani harshly ruled out by the Television Match Official before Sitaleki Timani stretched to score in the closing moments of the game to clinch the win and condemn the Brumbies to their fourth defeat of the season.

The Rebels returned to winning ways with a sensational 42-25 victory over the Hurricanes in their clash at AAMI Stadium in Melbourne on Friday night. The fledgling Australian franchise were hammered 53-3 by the Reds in their last outing and were on course for another drubbing after slipping to a 17-0 deficit midway through the first-half. Hurricanes scrum-half Chris Eaton barged his way over to open the scores and flanker Victor Vito doubled the visitors' advantage soon after.

Fly-half Daniel Kirkpatrick was the next to breach the Rebels' defence but the hosts dug deep with prop Rodney Blake getting them on the board with a try from close range. Tries from lock Alister Campbell and flanker Michael Lipman offered further cause for hope before fly-half Danny Cipriani booted them level just before the break. Cipriani gave the Rebels the lead early in the second-half with a penalty before Campbell grabbed his second try to ensure a bonus point. Winger Cooper Vuna then extended the home side's advantage and scrum-half Nick Phipps notched their sixth try just short of the hour mark. The Hurricanes grabbed a bonus point with a late try from replacement Dane Coles.

The Reds brought the Cheetahs back down to earth by thrashing them 41-8 at Suncorp Stadium in Saturday's early game. The Cheetahs registered their first win of the season by crushing the Waratahs in Sydney last week but their Australian tour turned sour at the hands of a ruthless Reds outfit, who moved top of the overall Super Rugby standings, at least temporarily, with this victory.

The Cheetahs ironically scored first with a penalty but then the Reds backs ran rampant, Digby Ioane crossing first before Rod Davies grabbed a first-half double. Saia Faingaa got one for the forwards while Wilhelm Steenkamp was off for a yellow card before scrum-half Will Genia helped himself to a second-half brace. Steenkamp picked up a consolation try in between Genia's efforts.

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