TOWNSVILLE, Australia (AP) — The Queensland Reds have managed to do what no other Australian team had done in 13 previous matches in Super Rugby this season — beat a New Zealand squad.
The Reds led 33-3 at halftime on Saturday and held on desperately for a 40-34 win over the Hamilton-based Chiefs at Townsville in north Queensland state.
The Reds led 40-8 in the second half before the Chiefs rallied, with substitute halfback Xavier Roe diving over in the corner to pull the visitors to within six points in the 79th minute. But the Reds won a scrum and Kalani Thomas booted the ball into touch to secure the narrow win.
The victory ended an embarrassing streak in which New Zealand teams had beaten Australian squads throughout the 10 matches over the first two rounds of the trans-Tasman competition and the first three of the third round this weekend.
The Melbourne Rebels will have a chance to make it two in a row over New Zealand teams when they play the Highlanders in Sydney on Sunday to close out the third round.
The match was originally scheduled for Queenstown, New Zealand but was moved to Sydney after new COVID-19 cases in Melbourne forced a seven-day lockdown, preventing the Rebels from traveling to New Zealand.
Earlier Saturday, the New Zealand-champion Crusaders outclassed the New South Wales Waratahs to take a bonus point from a 54-28 win. The Christchurch-based Crusaders were expected to win handsomely and did so, by eight tries to three, against the team that finished last in the Australian domestic Super Rugby competition.
Also, the Auckland-based Blues beat the ACT Brumbies 38-10. The teams were locked at 10-10 after tries by hookers Kurt Eklund for the Blues and Connal McInerney for the Brumbies.
The Blues broke the stalemate with scrumhalf Finlay Christie's superb try just before halftime. Rieko Ioane broke the defensive line and passed to Christie, who ran 40 meters weaving past four tacklers to score.
The Blues ran away with the match with a strong second half, adding tries by wingers Bryce Heem and A.J. Lam and center T.J. Faiaine. The Brumbies competed for territory but lacked finishing ability.
The 13-time Super Rugby champion Crusaders had to work hard at times against the plucky Waratahs, who were only a point behind — 7-6 — after 30 minutes.
The Crusaders scored four tries in a 12-minute period on either side of halftime to take the match away from the Waratahs, who still made the contest interesting with two tries in the space of two minutes in the middle of the second half.
Crusaders captain Scott Barrett said he was happy with the way his team attacked, even from deep in its own half.
“But it probably got a bit loose there at times, trying to chase points and tries for this competition,” he said. “We saw what the Waratahs could do. They’ve got a bit of flair and put a few points on us which is a little bit disappointing.”
The Crusaders were reduced to 13 men with two yellow cards in the last few minutes and the Waratahs capitalized, scoring the last try of the match through Alex Newsome.
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