CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) – ACT Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolésio missed a side conversion in defenseman Rob Valetini’s last attempt, allowing the NZ Crusaders to win 31-29 in the NZ / NZ Super Rugby on Saturday.
Valetini reached over the Crusaders’ goal line at the last minute of regular time to give Brambis Canberra a surprise draw against the New Zealand champions.
But Lolézio, who had held a flawless record for the most kicks up to this point, shifted his shot from the left sideline to the side of the left post, and the 14-man Crusaders, who had led the entire match, held on with a sigh of relief. …
The Crusaders were in the lead for most of the match, leading 19-7 to halftime. But the Brumbies fought back in the second half, and a flurry of late penalties reduced the Crusaders to 14 and gave visitors a chance to level the score.
“I am definitely proud of the effort, especially the fight we put on in the second half, to get us back into the game,” said Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa. “The boys were clearly saddened by the defeat.
“We came here to win. This shows that when you face the crusaders, you have to play the perfect game. ”
The Crusaders have won the Super Rugby title each of the past five years. They won the full Super Rugby in 2017, 18 and 1919, and the New Zealand tournament in 2020 and again this year, bringing their Super Rugby titles to 12.
The Brumby won the Australian tournament last year and finished second to the Queensland Reds this year in an overtime match.
The chance to unite Australia and New Zealand came this year when a travel bubble formed between its Pacific neighbors.
“This is a new tournament and we had to intensify it,” said center David Havili, who finished the match as Crusader captain. “We weren’t very good, but we won.
“It’s nice to play with our Australian partners. This is a good change for us. “
The Crusaders struck early Saturday’s match, attempting to flank Ethan Blackadder in just four minutes.
The Brambies missed their defenses, prompting a dangerous Crusader counterattack. They tried first from the left and then tossed the ball to the right, where a double round winger Lester Feing’nuku and a sharp pass from Mitchell Dunchea’s castle beat Blackadder.
More than 20 minutes passed before the Bramby scored from an attacking corridor as Lolezio jumped over the Crusaders’ defense and pivot Scott Sio interrupted them.
The Crusaders immediately responded by trying to capture Richie Mo’unga. Valetini struck on the opening kick, and Mo’unga feigned a kick from an attacking scrum, then stepped off his right foot to break through the internal defense and score.
An attempted interception by Havili, who crept to the short side to take a pass from Ryan Lonergan’s scrum, put the Crusaders 19-7 ahead of half-time.
The Brambies had little possession in the first half, but much stronger in the second, when they put serious pressure on the Crusaders.
They scored in the 50th minute, when the ball unexpectedly flew into the center of Ira Simone with a breakdown under the crusaders’ racks. A conversion and a penalty kick in Lolézio’s favor reduced the lead to two points, 19-17, in the 58th minute.
Attempts to beat the underdogs Brandon O’Connor and Cullen Grace pushed the Crusaders 31-17 ahead before the Brumby made an outstanding comeback trying to outflank Tom Banks and Valetini.
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