Super rugby Trans Tasman

Reece treble helps Crusaders slay Rebels

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The Crusaders thrashed the Melbourne Rebels 26-52 in the final round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman at Leichhardt Oval, Sydney.

The Crusaders, however, failed to score the required 33-points winning margin to jump ahead of the Highlanders on the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman table, and must now wait on results elsewhere.

The 26-point victory is the Crusaders‘ 12th in 13 away matches to Australian opposition, and sixth on the trot against the Melbourne Rebels.

A hat-trick by Sevu Reece took the winger to the top of the try-scoring charts in the Trans-Tasman tournament with six tries.

Tries from Mitchell Drummond, Will Jordan, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Oliver Jager, and Braydon Ennor were not enough for the Crusaders to qualify outright for the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final.

The Saders – who average 62 points per game against the Rebels – had to win by 33 or more and claim a bonus point if they were to book their place in another Super Rugby final.

The Canterbury franchise will have to wait on the result of the Blues vs. Western Force match at Eden Park.

They need an unlikely upset or for the Blues not to win with a bonus point (which is unlikely).

But it was not to be for the defending Super Rugby Aotearoa champions, who were searching for another shot at silverware.

Melbourne scored twice in each half to scupper the Crusaders.

Trevor Hosea, Joe Powell, Frank Lomani, and Glen Vaihu dotted down for the Aussies.

The Crusaders led 26-12 at the break after an entertaining half

They scored four first-half tries despite the Rebels having the better of the possession (56%) and territory (60%) in the opening 40 minutes.

Drummond, Jordan, Fainga’anuku, and Reece all crossed in the first stanza for the Kiwis.

Scott Robertson’s men, chasing the points, should have scored more.

But uncharacteristic handling errors, and a terrible mistake by Ennor, hampered the Christchurch outfit.

Ennor dropped the ball, under no pressure from any defenders, and with the try line at his mercy – it was something out of the under 8s.

Hosea and Powell went over for the Rebels.

Jordan was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-down, and Powell took advantage of the extra numbers.

The Crusaders looked for the killer blows, but Rebels stayed in touch as they frustrated the 12-time champs

Reece scored two more to go with Jager and Ennor’s five-pointers as the Crusaders brought up another fifty-burger.

Lomani and Vaihu’s scores frustrated the Kiwis and kept them honest.

Jordan went close after the break but was tackled into touch by a last-ditch Andrew Kellaway tackle.

Reece, however, scored his second soon afterward to increase the Saders’ lead to 19.

But, on 56 minutes, Vaihu found his way over for his maiden Super Rugby try to dent the New Zealander’s chances. Gordon converted.

Reece took a quick-tap penalty and crashed over from close range to claim his treble before the hour mark.

Lomani scored after a mistake by the Saders, but Jager barged over on 67 minutes to keep the Crusaders’ chances alive.

Steve Cummins was yellow carded a minute later, and Robertson’s men made the Victorians pay.

Ennor made up for his first-half mistake when he scored with less than nine minutes to play to bring up the half-century.

Mo’unga’s sixth conversion took the Saders closer to their target as time began to run out.

The drama continued when Fainga’anuku had a try chalked off for a double movement with less than five to play.

Robertson’s men could not secure the points to take them through, and so fate rests in others’ hands.

Final Score: Rebels 26 (12) Crusaders 52 (26)

Scorers

Rebels
Tries – Hosea, Powell, Vaihu, Lomani
Pen –
Con – Gordon (3)
Drop –
Cards – Cummins (Yellow, 68′)

Crusaders
Tries – Drummond, Jordan, Fainga’anuku, Reece (3), Jager, Ennor
Pen –
Con – Mo’unga (6)
Drop –
Cards – Jordan (Yellow, 27′)

Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2: Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie

Teams

Melbourne Rebels

5 George Worth, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Glen Vaihu, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Rob Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr

Replacements:
16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Rhys Van Neck, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Young Tonumaipea, 23 Ilikena Vudogo

Crusaders

15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Dallas McLeod, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Sione Havili Talitui, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Brodie McAlister, 1 George Bower

Replacements:
16 Nathan Vella, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Mitchell Dunshea, 20 Tom Sanders, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Manasa Mataele

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