Dan Carter’s boot saves Crusaders in 23-22 win over Waratahs
The Canterbury Crusaders gave their Super Rugby play-off chances a massive boost with a 23-22 win over the NSW Waratahs in Christchurch yesterday.
The seven-time champion Crusaders looked unconvincing as they scored two tries to three, with only the boot of Dan Carter securing victory through three penalties and two conversions.
The Waratahs, who dominated much of the game, would have nailed a last-gasp victory in the final minutes had not Berrick Barnes kicked a penalty attempt wide after the final siren.
"It was get-out-of-jail all right, we struggled all night," Crusaders' captain George Whitelock said. "Probably the last 20 minutes we ground our way back into it and we were lucky to get away with a win."
The result cements the Crusaders' top-six spot, bearing down on New Zealand conference leaders and defending title holders the Waikato Chiefs, and leaves the Waratahs reliant on other results for a play-off berth.
"I thought our attitude tonight was really excellent and obviously we were just one kick short," said Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis, who did his chances of a place in the Australia back row no harm with an intercept to set up a try.
In Canberra, Nic White pressed his claim for a spot in the Australia squad for the British and Irish Lions series with a lively display as the ACT Brumbies edged the Wellington Hurricanes 30-23 in a tight contest.
The Brumbies were forced to defend their line for the final 12 minutes at Canberra Stadium as the Hurricanes fought to keep their season alive, but the home side held on to shore up their place at the top of the Australian conference.
Scrumhalf White, eyeing one of the six remaining places in Robbie Deans' squad, scored a first-half try and made a couple of breaks to help put the Brumbies nine points ahead of the Queensland Reds, who play today.
Flanker Peter Kimlin also crossed in the second half and Christian Lealiifano, a strong contender for the Wallabies inside-centre berth for the Lions series, kicked six penalties and a conversion for the home side.
The Hurricanes did not make it easy for the Brumbies, particularly at the end, but their play-off hopes were all but extinguished despite tries from Reynold Lee-Lo and T.J. Perenara as well as 13 points from the boot of Beauden Barrett.
"It was outstanding by the boys," said Brumbies skipper and No8 Ben Mowen, who is hoping to win his first test cap against the Lions next month.