Super Rugby champions the Crusaders kicked off their 2019 campaign with a win as they edged past the Blues 24-22 on Saturday.
The Crusaders did not have it all their own way away from home, but a double from Manasa Mataele and a pair of penalty tries saw them safe.
Otere Black’s penalty opened the scoring, yet the visitors were in control at the break as Mataele went over and a second try was awarded following a lineout drive.
The Blues rallied after the restart and Akira Ioane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi turned the game on its head until the Crusaders responded again, with Mataele going through before the second penalty try.
The hosts kept pushing and Augustine Pulu brought them back within reach of victory, only for Harry Plummer to waste two late kicks as the Crusaders held on.
HIGHLIGHTS: 2019 Super Rugby Week 1 Blues v Crusaders
With Ma’a Nonu’s return to Super Rugby, the Blues brought the fight, but the Crusaders showed their championship pedigree to claim the win, 24-22. #SuperRugby #BLUvCRU pic.twitter.com/LftbDpFDvG
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) February 16, 2019
Meanwhile, in the absence of star man Beauden Barrett, the Hurricanes came through a similarly dramatic finale to steal a 20-19 victory at the Waratahs.
Bernard Foley kicked four first-half penalties to give the Australian outfit the lead at the interval, with Jordie Barrett’s kicks and an Ardie Savea try narrowing the deficit to just two points.
The Waratahs remained on top as the second half began and crossed for the first time as Curtis Rona went over out wide.
But Jordie Barrett responded again and, although the Hurricanes saw the officials twice rule against them on apparent tries, Du’Plessis Kirifi finally burst through to put the visitors in front five minutes from time.
There was still room for further drama, though, and Foley, so clinical throughout, missed a 78th-minute penalty in front of the posts to cost his side.
The Sharks also got a first win of the year as they thrashed the Sunwolves 45-10 in Singapore.
The Sunwolves scored all of their points – including Shane Gates’ try – in the opening 15 minutes, before the away side took complete control.
Armand van der Merwe got a brace, with Daniel du Preez, Sibusiso Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi and Jeremy Ward all also contributing tries.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta