Brands’ late ramp-up gives Crusaders NZ title in penultimate game, Sport News & Top Stories

CHRISTCHURCH • The Canterbury Crusaders needed their legendary victory to beat the Otago Highlanders 32-22 to claim the New Zealand Super Rugby title with a game to play in Christchurch yesterday.

Three last quarter tries, two at George Bridge, won their fourth straight Super title, but coach Scott Robertson immediately ended discussions of the extravagant celebrations, citing the experience of English football club Liverpool in winning a championship before the end of the season.

“It’s a celebration with curfews tonight,” he said, as he also declined to play the trademark breakdance he produced after his previous titles.

“That doesn’t seem quite right. We haven’t finished the job yet. There will be another time for that.

“We are very aware of the awkwardness of winning as we did.

“We understand what Liverpool went through when they won the trophy early on,” he said.

Liverpool were beaten 4-0 by Manchester City in their opener after winning the Premier League with seven games to go, and Robertson has warned the Crusaders will not slack off when they face the Auckland Blues in the last one. tour next weekend.

“It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t get the job done next week,” added lock veteran Sam Whitelock.

The less-fancy Highlanders led for the first 60 minutes against the Crusaders but couldn’t hold back the red wave as the Crusaders took control in the final quarter – a period that produced 40% of their points in the competition.

Bridge scored two tries in two minutes for the Crusaders to be ahead for the first time in the 62nd minute and Brayden Ennor cemented the victory with a try five minutes from time.

“We were on the ropes for a good part of the game, but there were only a few moments when the key players stood up,” said Robertson.

  • 40%
    Crusaders points came in the last 20 minutes of their games.

The Crusaders won three Super Rugby titles in a row before the coronavirus crushed this year’s competition in mid-March, and it was replaced by the hastily hosted Aotearoa National Tournament in New Zealand between the five Super Rugby teams from across the country.

The four-on-three try-out victory dashed the Wellington Hurricanes and Auckland Blues’ weak title hopes and effectively ended the competition a week earlier.


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Sara R. Cicero