Super rugby Trans Tasman

Jordan brace sees Crusaders edge plucky Force

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The Crusaders edged the Western Force 29-21 in an entertaining Round Four Super Rugby Trans-Tasman game at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.

Will Jordan bagged a brace as the Crusaders ground out their fourth Super Rugby win in a row against the Western Australian franchise.

The five tries to three win keep Scott Robertson’s unbeaten side in the hunt for a spot in the top two of the Trans-Tasman tournament.

However, a last-minute Jordan Olowofela try snatched an important bonus point off the board for the Crusaders.


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The 12-time Super Rugby champions’ eight-point win will put pressure on the Blues and Hurricanes.

But they will need results to go their way in the last two rounds to make the final.

Manasa Mataele, Whetukamokamo Douglas, and Sione Havili Talitui also crossed for the Saders.

Mataele, Jordan, and Tamaiti Williams might have added to the Western Force‘s woes as well, but the Crusaders had three tries chalked off – correctly – after TMO reviews.

Toni Pulu – who left the game with an ankle injury – and Ollie Callan scored for the Perth-based franchise.

The electric Olowofela, on for the injured Pulu, also had a try chalked off after a forward pass by Richard Kahui.

Olowofela might have got on the board earlier had he not dropped a pass into touch, late in the game, but the 23-year-old flier did get his score in the 80th-minute.

Crusaders dominate the first stanza, but the Force stay in touch

The Crusaders took a slender three-point halftime lead into the shed despite going 7-0 down early in the game.

Pulu opened the scoring in the third minute after a slick attack from a lineout.

Domingo Miotti converted, but the Saders struck when Mataele chased down Braydon Ennor’s grubber kick.

Fergus Burke, starting at first-five in place of Richie Mo’unga, levelled from the tee. Burke had a poor day from the tee, only converting one more try.

Five minutes later, Jordan beat Fergus Lee-Warner and Miotti to the corner after some slick handling by Talitui and Leicester Fainga’anuku.

Robertson’s men opened up a 10-point gap before the half-hour when Douglas broke off a rolling maul to score, but the visitors stayed in touch.

Lee-Warner went close before Callan crashed over, Miotti converted to make it 17-14 after 33 minutes.

Mataele and Williams both thought they had scored before the interval but Bryn Hall and Williams both knocked on before the scores.

The hosts, however, struck after the hooter when Williams helped Talitui over the whitewash.

Tim Sampson’s men fight back, but solid Saders’ defence keeps the visitors from an unlikely win

Olowofela had his score chalked off soon after the restart, the hosts scored four minutes later.

Just like that, the Crusaders struck after winning a series of penalties.

The home team’s forwards were again kept out from a driving maul, but the ball got shifted to Jordan, who grabbed his second score. He almost had a third a minute later.

The TMO saved Miotti’s blushes after the flyhalf made a grizzly error when dropping Jake Strachan’s quick throw-in.

Miotti looked up, saw the pressure from Douglas, and lost the ball forward.

Douglas collected and played in Jordan; however, the TMO review showed Strachan’s foot was on the line.

The Force had the better of the final 20 minutes, they camped inside the Crusaders’ half for almost the entire period but could not score.

Sampson’s men went close several times, but poor handling and solid defending by the red wall kept the Perth side out.

With time running out, the hosts looked to secure the bonus point; however, the visitors had other ideas.

The last scrum, inside the Force’s own 22, led to an astonishing turn of events when Kyle Godwin’s opportunistic kick was chased down by Olowofela.

Although the score did not alter the result, it did alter the course of the Crusaders’ season.

Final Score: Crusaders 29 (17) Western Force 21 (14)

Scorers

Crusaders
Tries – Mataele, Jordan (2), Douglas, Talitui
Pen –
Con – Burke (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Western Force
Tries – Pulu, Callan, Olowofela
Pen –
Con – Miotti (2), Prior
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Chris Hart

Teams

Crusaders

15 Will Jordan, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Mitchell Dunshea, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tamaiti Williams

Replacements:
 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Isileli Tu’ungafasi, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Dallas McLeod, 23 Josh McKay

Western Force

15 Jake Strachan, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin (captain), 11 Richard Kahui, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Ollie Callan, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson

Replacements:
 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Warner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Tim Anstee, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Jack McGregor, 23 Jordan Olowofela

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