Crusaders need drop goal to beat Sharks




All Blacks flyhalf Daniel Carter kicked a long-range dropped goal with eight minutes remaining Saturday to give the Canterbury Crusaders a 22-20 win over South Africa’s Sharks in rugby’s Super 14.

Carter’s shot from 50 meters – the second dropped goal of his first class career – gave Canterbury the lead for the first time in the match and sealed their third straight win in this year’s competition. After three rounds they lie a point behind the competition-leading Wellington Hurricanes.

Fullback Percy Montgomery scored a try among 15 points and Odwa Ndungane added a controversial try as the Sharks established a 13-6 halftime lead and a 20-6 advantage three minutes into the second half.

The Crusaders, beseiged by handling errors and refereeing blunders, peeled back the lead with second-half tries to wingers Rico Gear and Caleb Ralph and took the lead for the first time with Carter’s late dropped goal.

“Four points out of that…we’ve got to be a little bit happy,” said Crusaders captain Richie McCaw. “We didn’t make it easy for ourselves. When you get behind on the scoreboard the thing is not to panic and we held together and believed to could do it.”

The Crusaders were denied a first half try when a touch judge ruled All Blacks center Aaron Mauger had put a foot into touch as he streaked along the sideline towards a potentially tying score. Television replays showed Mauger was several inches inside the line.

Ndungane’s try came after Montgomery retrieved his own speculative kick which cannoned off a Sharks forward who was immediately several meters offside. Australian referee George Ayoub missed the infringing, allowing the Sharks a fortuitous 20-6 lead.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for the Canterbury Crusaders but we came out to beat them,” said Sharks captain A.J.Venter.

“The first half was a good effort but the second half was not so good. I think we were unlucky and we were not happy to lose by such a small margin.” The Sharks made much of the play in the first spell, shaking the Canterbury with quick, flat and decisive defense.

The Crusaders created space in the second half but were prevented from scoring by a legion of handling errors. An improved forward performance, particularly at lineouts, lifted the Crusaders in the second half, allowing their talented backline to range more freely.

Canterbury Crusaders 22 (Rico Gear, Caleb Ralph tries; Daniel Carter 3 penalties, dropped goal),

Sharks 20 (Percy Montgomery, Odwa Ndungane tries; Montgomery 2 conversions, 2 penalties).

HT, 6-13.

Source : Sapa-AP /je

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