One streak ends, another extended

04 March 2019 | Sports

Japan’s Sunwolves claimed their first away win in Super Rugby when they beat two-time champions the Chiefs 30 - 15 in a third-round match at Hamilton, New Zealand.

In the second match of the night at Brisbane, Australia, the Christchurch, New Zealand-based Crusaders extended their winning streak to 18 matches by dominating Queensland's scrum in a 22 - 12 win. The back-to-back defending champions dictated play on Saturday, holding 60 percent of possession and making 46 fewer tackles as they repeatedly won the battle of the breakdown against the Reds.

The Sunwolves were winless in 24 away matches over their first three seasons but ended that record at Waikato Stadium with only their second-ever win over a New Zealand team.

Both teams came into the match without a win this season: the Sunwolves lost at home to South Africa’s Sharks and Australia's Waratahs while the Chiefs lost to the Highlanders in round one, before a crushing 54 - 17 loss to the ACT Brumbies last weekend.

The Chiefs set out on Saturday to atone for that loss but were overwhelmed by a Sunwolves team which led 23 - 3 at halftime.

“It’s pretty amazing,” the Sunwolves’ New Zealand-born captain Michael Little said. “The boys put in a lot of hard work this week and we knew we could do it.”

The Sunwolves started with enormous energy and scored their first try after only two minutes through flanker Shuhei Matsuhashi. After accurate inter-passing which stretched the defense, the Sunwolves moved the ball wide for Matsuhashi to crash over in the corner.

New Zealand-born flyhalf Hayden Parker made it 10 - 0 after five minutes with a penalty, the first of six successful kicks at goal. Parker came into the match having kicked eight from eight in his first two matches and maintained a perfect kicking record through three rounds.

After an exchange of penalties, lock Uwe Helu barged over under the posts for the Sunwolves' second try to make the lead 20-3 and another Parker penalty stretched the lead to 20 points at halftime.

The Crusaders scored four tries to two against the Reds.

“It was a pleasing result, it's a tough place to come over to get the win, so we’ll certainly take that,” Crusaders captain Matt Todd said. “Especially that second half, we were able to get down there and get points at a crucial time at the game. It was sort of in the balance there at halftime, 10 - 7, but we came out in the second half and we were composed and built pressure nicely.” - Nampa/AP

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